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Category: churros + Spanish sweets

Coconut Milk or Basic Flan Recipe

There are times that one forgets how the simple things in life are the best. Flan is one of the easiest desserts to make and always tastes good and looks impressive on a plate.

We were invited to lunch by my parent’s friends the other day and my father accustomed to my mother’s cooking and social habits, suggested that I make a flan. A custard as our English friend told us. In the US, whenever we had parties or social gatherings, my mother was known for her delicious flan, paella and other traditional Spanish dishes. My sister-in-law’s is also renown for her culinary talents amongst our friends. And oftentimes, flan is her star dish.

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Paleo Churros, the Real Deal

As I was frying these churros, my house was engulfed by the smells of the oil and the dough that transported me to the traditional churrerias in Spain. Eating churros in Spain equates to eating pancakes in certain countries… it’s not just about the  food, but the rituals that accompany it.

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For me, it reminds me of the many times my mother, my aunt and I would meet up in Sevilla to go shopping, first stopping to have a “churro con chocolate” breakfast around the corner from my great-aunt’s apartment in San Gonzalo. We still indulge in some churros with our afternoon coffee when we go shopping; but as we all see less of each other, it only happens when we are together in Sevilla.

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However, and this is a big one for me, I always have gotten an upset stomach after eating them. I don’t know if it’s the dough (made with wheat flour) or possibly the oils in which they are fried. But it hardly ever fails. So when I eat them out now, I usually have only one (and yes, I admit dipped in white, refined sugar, or dipped in chocolate as pictured below).

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But as I’m on a quest to Paleolise many of my favourite Spanish indulgences, I finally tackled the churro.

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My first attempt was based on the recipe for buñuelos (a fried-dough pastry, similar to choux) that I found in a book I bought on our last visit, called “Come Sin Gluten y Disfruta” by Begoñia Naveira. Yet, the dough was raw and still quite sticky inside after frying and baking. And honestly, it was a slippery glob when handling.

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As the process is slightly labour-intensive, I thought of giving up and trying it another day. But then my ambition and determination got the better of me, and I tried again. The secret to my success is the addition of coconut flour and altering the amounts of the ingredients a bit.

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These truly taste and feel like the real churros from Spain. I tried two ways: frying and baking. And while frying is the authentic way to make them, especially in olive oil, using a different oil (with a healthier smoke point, such as lard or coconut oil) will make them a healthier treat. If you want the real taste, though, frying them in olive oil is the way to go. And after all, this is a treat, so just don’t over-indulge!

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As for the baking: I like the results, but it’s more of a choux pastry then, instead of a churro. So… this recipe lends itself to more experimentation and to making some “Neapolitans” filled with cream and some delightful choux!

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I also froze some of the fried churros to see how they would “work” the next day. I took them out of the freezer, and stuck a few directly into the oven at 180C (350F) and heated them up for about 5 minutes (probably effectively 3 once the oven reached the temperature). They were delicious! I would say they were even better the next day!

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I left the choux-like mounds (pictured above) at room temperature overnight and they were also very nice the next day. They held their shape and texture, and the inside was still perfect.

And one last word of praise to this recipe: they do not seep in the oil when frying. The inside stays nice and dry, which is a really good thing since the real churros actually sometimes get oily inside.

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So go ahead and give this a try! I can’t wait to hear your feedback. Personally, I’m ecstatic that this worked and I know I can create more things with this basic recipe. 😉

¡que aproveches!

Paleo Churros, the Real Deal
Recipe Type: Dessert, Breakfast
Cuisine: Spanish
Author: The Saffron Girl
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Ingredients
  • 125ml (1/2 cup) water
  • 100g (7 tablespoons) butter, measured when slightly softened
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea/himalayan salt
  • 33g (1/4 cup) coconut flour (scoop and scrape method)
  • 66g (1/2 cup) arrowroot powder (scoop and scrape method)
  • 3 eggs
Instructions
  1. Be prepared for some intense stirring and a bit of a workout. But these churros are worth it.
  2. NOTE: You will notice that the amounts are given in both metric and U.S. And although the amounts are not an exact conversion, they both work. I’ve tried it both ways to ensure both are foolproof. Don’t “mix and match”; either stick to metric or U.S. when making this recipe.
  3. I recommend preparing and measuring everything out before starting, as you will have to move rapidly and will not have time to measure once you’ve commenced the process.
  4. Also, crack the eggs in individual bowls before hand. (I always crack eggs separately when cooking/baking to ensure I don’t throw away a batch because of one bad egg.)
  5. Prepare your piping bag and tip as well. I used the Wilton 1M.
  6. Combine the coconut flour, arrowroot powder and salt together in one small bowl.
  7. Over low heat, in a medium pot, melt the butter in the water and when it starts to bubble, immediately, still over low heat, dump in the flours all at once.
  8. With a wooden spoon, stir vigorously until a ball is formed, which will be in about 30 seconds or less. (The dough will become a ball as you stir and will be sticky in itself but not stick to the pot. See photos attached.)
  9. Keep stirring for about 1 minute in total.
  10. Remove from heat and let cool about 5 minutes. (I actually timed this.)
  11. Add one egg at a time, stirring vigorously after each addition.
  12. The dough will slightly come apart when you first add each egg, but once you stir long enough, it comes back together, although never as dry as like in the beginning. (The dough starts to get noticeably stickier after egg number two.)
  13. Once all the eggs have been incorporated and the dough is well blended, spoon the dough into a piping bag.
  14. For Spanish looking churros, you’ll want to use a star or round tip. (Churros in Spain are typically either star shaped – pictured- or long round pieces.)
  15. Heat your oil of preference in a deep pot or a deep fryer (for an authentic Spanish taste, use olive oil).
  16. Once the oil is hot enough, carefully pipe the dough into the hot oil. You can use a pair of scissors to help you cut off the dough. (Be careful not to burn yourself or cause splatter.)
  17. Make either long or curled shapes.
  18. Fry turning over with a tong until golden brown on each side.
  19. Note: as the oil gets warmer, the dough will turn darker quicker, but still needs to be cooked through.
  20. Remove the churros from the oil with the tong and place on a plate prepared with paper towel (to absorb the extra oil).
  21. Serve immediately with thick, sweetened hot chocolate or dip in some coconut sugar.
  22. This dough also worked well in the oven, for a “healthier” version:
  23. Preheat oven to 200C (400F).
  24. Place a sheet of parchment on a cookie sheet.
  25. Pipe out desired shapes. Depending on what shape you choose, the baking time will have to be adjusted.
  26. For churro shaped rounds or “sticks”, bake about 8-10 minutes, turning over half way.
  27. For choux shaped mounds, bake 15 minutes. (These are also good the next day, stored at room temperature.)
  28. You can also freeze the fried/baked dough and reheat in the oven at 180C (350F) for about 5 minutes.

 

Paleo Flan de Maracuya y Coco (Passion Fruit & Coconut Flan)

Do you have left over egg yolks from another recipe? Here’s a yummy and healthy solution… of course, you can always make this first, and then have leftover egg whites, which you can use in a number of other recipes, such as this or this or try your hand at French macarons!

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Flan is a traditional dessert of Spain. It’s typically made with three ingredients: eggs, milk and sugar. From there, the variations abound according to what is in season and the cook’s preference. You can add fruit puree, coffee, coconut, raisins…

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As I had passion fruit on hand, of course the choice was easy. The flan’s aroma is as delectable as the fragrance of the fruit itself; and the texture is intriguing with the desiccated coconut.

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To top it off, this version is Paleo, with no refined sugar and no dairy. Instead, I’ve used raw coconut sugar and coconut milk. If you have canned coconut, use that, as it’s creamier; but homemade coconut milk will also work.

Que aproveches!

Paleo Flan de Maracuya y Coco (Passion Fruit & Coconut Flan)
Recipe Type: Dessert
Author: The Saffron Girl
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 6
Makes a 5×7 inch flan.
Ingredients
  • For the burnt sugar:
  • 5 tablespoons coconut sugar
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • For the flan:
  • 3 passion fruit
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 1 cup coconut sugar
  • 2 cups coconut milk, full fat
  • 1/2 desiccated coconut
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 200C (390F).
  2. For the burnt sugar:
  3. Place the sugar and water in a small pot. Cook over low heat until caramelised.
  4. Pour into a glass flan mold(s) and make sure it is spread across the bottom evenly. Set aside.
  5. For the flan:
  6. Dissolve the coconut sugar in a tablespoon of coconut milk. (If necessary, heat it up a few seconds in the microwave or on the stovetop.)
  7. In a mixing bowl, beat the coconut sugar-coconut blend with the egg yolks and whole eggs until smooth.
  8. Take the pulp of the passion fruit and pass through a sieve to remove the seeds.
  9. Add the pulp of the passion fruit to the egg mixture and blend well.
  10. Add the remaining coconut milk and desiccated coconut and mix well.
  11. Pour into the prepared mold.
  12. Place the mold inside another glass dish, large enough to hold the flan mold and be filled with water.
  13. Fill the outside glass dish to about 1/2 of the side of the flan mold. Do not over-fill, or the water can boil over inside and ruin the flan.
  14. Bake au bain marie in the oven for 50 minutes or until done. To check if it is ready, insert a toothpick; and if it comes out dry, it is done. If not, bake a bit longer.
  15. Serve with passion fruit coulis, if desired.

 

Panellets (Empiñonados) or Spanish Sweet Potato-Marzipan “Cookies”

Panellets are a traditional Spanish dessert for All Saint’s Day, which is 1 November. In the Catalan region of Spain, they are called “panellets”, or little breads, while in other areas, specifically in Sevilla (Andalucia), they are called “empiñonados”, because they are typically covered in piñones (pine nuts).

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I’m a bit early or late for the recipe, depending on how you want to view it. But either way, they are a delicious treat anytime of the year. Plus, they are very easy to make and are Paleo-friendly.

The basis for the recipe is the marzipan, which can be made with coconut sugar, honey or maple syrup to keep it Paleo.

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Marzipan should be sweet, and usually the recipes call for the same amount of refined sugar as of ground almonds in weight. I tried to decrease the amount of sweetener, and although the amount of honey used may seem like a lot, they are not that sweet.

While the typical panellets are coated with pine nuts, I decided to give mine a bit of the aroma of the Maghreb area by adding rose water, which I had purchased on our Dubai trip, and coating them in ground pistachios. I also coated some in desiccated coconut and another set in a mixture of desiccated coconut and cacao powder.

If you use pine nuts, beat an egg yolk and spread it over the balls with a brush before baking, to give the nuts a glossy finish. This is not really needed with the pistachios or other coatings.

You can also play around with the flavours, adding spices and different toppings, depending on what you prefer, or even use a different vegetable… !

Panellets (Empiñonados) or Spanish Sweet Potato-Marzipan Cookies
Recipe Type: Easy
Cuisine: Spanish
Author: The Saffron Girl
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 25-28
Ingredients
  • 3 cups ground almonds
  • 3/4 cup raw honey
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes (about 190g)
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon rose water (optional)
  • ground pistachios (or whole pine nuts)
  • desiccated coconut
  • cacao powder
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 190C (375F).
  2. Peel and cut into large chunks the sweet potatoes. Cook in plenty of water until tender.
  3. Once tender, drain and mash with a fork or spoon until a puree is formed.
  4. Add the raw honey and rose water and mix well.
  5. Add the ground almonds, and with your hands mix it all well until you have a paste, similar to marzipan. (Actually it is marzipan without the sweet potato.)
  6. Allow to cool.
  7. Then with your hands, create 1-inch balls out of the paste.
  8. Beat the eggs in a soup bowl or small dish.
  9. Dip each ball in the beaten eggs and then through either ground pistachios, whole pine nuts, desiccated coconut, or cacao powder or a mixture of coconut and cacao powder. (If using pine nuts, it’s nice to add egg yolk-brushed onto the balls before baking-for a glossy finish.)
  10. Bake the panellets for 10-12 minutes, turning around once half way through.

 

Tocino de Cielo – Heavenly “Bacon”

Don’t be fooled by the name.. read on…
Tocino de Cielo is by far my favourite dessert. And every time I am in Spain, I make sure I eat it at least once.
Growing up in Chipiona, our neighbour Ines, would make tocino de cielo on a regular basis and invite me in for an after school “merienda” whenever she saw my bus arrive. I loved visiting with Ines, not just because her tocino de cielo was to die for, but because she was a joyful and talkative person, who enjoyed sharing her stories with mother and me (plus, it seems like she always had a new litter of kittens, which were too cute and cuddly for words).
I believe I have to thank her for my love of this pastry, which is a traditional Andalusian dessert.
The fundamental ingredients for tocino de cielo are egg yolks and sugar. The pastry is said to have been created around the early 1300s by the nuns of the Convent of the Holy Spirit in Jerez de la Frontera, Cadiz. The Jerez region is where numerous white wines and sherrys are produced, and egg whites were used in the clarifying process of many wines (some wine producers still use this process today). During fermentation inside the oak barrel, the “finos” grow a layer of yeast on top of the wine, called “flor de vino”. This “flor” actually gives the wine a cloudy appearance and contains a lot of impurities.
Beaten egg whites were added to the wine, creating a filtration system, whereby impurities attach themselves to the egg whites, enabling the clarifying process.
Hundreds of egg yolks were a by-product of the wine elaboration, and it is said that the wine producers, in order to not waste the egg yolks, would donate these to the nuns of the convent. The nuns in turn created this dessert to use the yolks. The name is derived from the appearance and texture, and the “heavenly” or religious nature of the nuns.
And as a by-product of all the macarons I’ve been making lately, I had also about 10 egg yolks left over. I’ve tried making this dessert before with honey and maple syrup and it just doesn’t come out the same. So, I’ve resorted to refined sugar, which doesn’t make me too happy… but I guess somethings just cannot be altered.
Tocino de Cielo
Ingredients
  • 14 eggs (10 yolks, and 4 whole eggs)
  • 500g caster sugar
  • approximately 2 cups of water
Additional Syrup: heat up and caramalise: 1 glass of water and 4 tablespoons of sugar.
Process
In a sauce pan, place the sugar and the water, just enough to cover the sugar completely. Cook, stirring constantly with a whisk, until the sugar is completely dissolved and starts to achieve a golden color. Do not allow to caramelise, or it will become hard and useless. Remove the syrup from heat and cool completely.
In a bowl, beat the eggs with a whisk. Pour the cooled syrup over the eggs very slowly, while continuing to stir. The syrup should be added as a string, in order to create a homogenous/smooth mixture and to avoid lumps. If lumps do occur, strain the mixture to remove them.
Make additional syrup (ingredients above) and quickly pour on the bottom of the mold to be used. Spread on the bottom by swirling the mold. Some people prefer to use individual flan molds, instead of one cake mold. It’s up to you.
In a bain-marie, place your mold, ensuring the water only reaches to about 1/2 the mold’s height. If you add too much water, it may bubble over into the mixture and ruin the pastry. You can also cover the mold with aluminum paper, popping a few holes with a fork.
Cook for 45 minutes au bain-marie. To check if the pastry is done, make a small cut with a knife. If the blade comes out clean, the pastry is done. (The tocino has a gelatinous texture, somewhat like a jello.)
Let cool at room temperature. When completely cool, turn the mold over onto a serving platter, just as you would a flan. If using individual molds, turn these over onto individual plates or a serving platter as well, depending on how you would like them presented. (To make the turning over easier and ensure the pastry doesn’t break, you can use a metal spatula to carefully remove the pastry from the sides of the mold.)
Enjoy with a piping cup of coffee, and don’t forget to say a thankful prayer to the nuns! 😉

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tarta de Santiago (Almond Cake)

The Tarta de Santiago is a traditional almond cake, which originates during the Middle Ages in Galicia, the north-western part of Spain. Little is known about the consumption of almonds in this region of Spain during Medieval times; but apparently almonds were considered a luxury and reserved for the rich or special occasions.

According to Wikipedia, the “bizcocho de almendras” (almond cake) was first mentioned sometime during 1577, and the first reliable recipe was written in 1838 by Luis Bartolome de Leybar. The cake is generally garnished with powdered sugar, in the shape of the Cross of Santiago. This is a recent tradition, but one which now-a-days is characteristic of the cake. On March 3, 2006, la Tarta de Santiago was registered as “Indication Geografica Protegida”, something similar to the geographical protection given to wines, cheeses and other specialty dishes.

I first learned how to make this cake from a recipe my mother has (author unknown). I used to make it on special occasions, only because it’s a very rich and heavy cake. However, as I’m on an “almond” kick lately, I figured why not?

TARTA DE SANTIAGO (ALMOND CAKE)

Ingredients:

  •  250g ground almonds or almond flour
  • 5 whole eggs, at room temperature
  • 150g raw honey (or sugar, if you prefer)
  • zest of two lemons
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
Process:
Preheat oven to 180C.  In a bowl, beat the eggs until frothy. Add the lemon zest, honey, cinnamon, and olive oil. Beat until well mixed. Add the ground almonds, whilst continuing to beat continuously.
Butter and flour the bottom and sides of a 8 or  9 inch spring form cake pan (I used olive oil and coconut flour, instead of butter and wheat flour). Pour the mixture into the pan. On the bottom rack of the oven, bake for 20-25 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
Remove from oven, and immediately dust with cinnamon and/or powdered sugar with the design of the Cross of Santiago or your own design. I personally only generally use cinnamon to garnish the cake; however to make the picture look prettier, I did add a bit of powdered sugar (which is completely optional). Allow to cool to room temperature before removing the mold and serving.
This cake pairs well with a Moscatel or another sweet dessert wine.

Garbanzo Lemon Tart with Moscatel de Chipiona

I had placed some garbanzo beans to soak overnight two nights ago with the full intention of making hummus, which I love. But last night I was rummaging through old recipes that I have written down from my mother, and I found one that intrigued me.
Garbanzos may seem like a strange ingredient for a sweet dish, but this actually tastes delightful, and you cannot pick out the bean flavour at all.
Garbanzo Lemon Tart with Moscatel de Chipiona (Tarta de Garbanzos con Moscatel de Chipiona)
Ingredients
  • 250g garbanzos beans, soaked overnight and cooked
  • 10 eggs
  • 275g honey
  • zest of a large lemon
  • juice of half lemon
  • 3/4 cup Moscatel de Chipiona*
  • 3 tablespoons of honey
  • juice of half lemon
Process
Preheat oven to 200C.
Soak the garbanzo beans in plenty of water overnight. Drain and cook in fresh water, without salt, until tender. Once the garbanzo beans are cooked, drain and allow to cool at room temperature. In a blender, grind thoroughly.
With a hand mixer (or in a blender), whisk 8 egg yolks and 2 whole eggs. (Reserve the egg whites.) Add the honey, blend well. Add the lemon zest, lemon juice and ground garbanzo beans and blend well.
Butter and line with parchment paper a spring-form baking pan. Pour the mixture into the pan. Bake at 200C for 40-45 minutes, or until an inserted knife comes out clean.
Remove the cake from the oven and allow to cool about 15 minutes. Pour the Moscatel over the cake, fully drenching it. Allow to soak and cool thoroughly before removing from pan. Once the cake is cool, remove from pan and remove the parchment paper from the cake.
Place on serving platter.
Beat the reserved egg whites, until soft peaks form. Add 2-3 tablespoons of honey, depending on how sweet you desired the meringue, and the juice of half a lemon. Continuing mixing until stiff peaks form. Pour into a piping bag and pipe onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Pipe into desired shapes (I made little star-shaped mounds). Bake at 160C for about 2 minutes or until golden brown. Watch carefully, as they can burn quickly.
Decorate the sides of the cake with the meringue mounds and garnish with marigold leaves.
*Moscatel is a sweet wine made in the province of Cadiz, and originates in the region of Jerez, more specifically in the town of Chipiona. I’ll write more about this wine in another post.
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