The traditional Spritati cookie from Moldova is one that reminds most Moldavans of the cookie tins in their youth. This simple cookie was originally made with lard and belonged to the baking repertoire of almost every Moldovan mother. The spritati cookie should really be formed with a cookie press. I do not have one, so I made it with a piping bag with a wide star nozzle. The dough is quite firm, so I had to push the dough through the nozzle quite firmly. Next time I will make the cookie with some more moisture to make it easier to get through the nozzle. With a cookie press, you probably won’t need that extra moisture. The spritati biscuit dough is not overly sweet or buttery. The biscuit does not fall apart easily and it passed my coffee-dunk test with flying colours! So enjoy eating it with a cup of tea or coffee.
The traditional bizcocha cookie from Ecuador is not really sweet. The dough is a bit brioche-like with lots of butter and yeast. When I was baking them I thought that it might be a good idea to make mini cinnamon rolls from the soft buttery dough. So for my variation I spread sugar, butter and cinnamon over the dough, rolled it up tightly and cut thin slices. In the oven the outside turns crispy and sticky while the inside stays softer. My cinnamon roll cookies look like little snails because they unrolled slightly while baking. I like the quirky look, but if you want neat rolls, follow the recipe below and keep a thin strip of dough free of butter, and press the roll well after rolling. I was very happy with these mini cinnamon rolls. They are just as tasty, but have a little more crunch and… you can eat so much more!
The town of Cayambe, in the highlands of Ecuador is famous for its Bizcocha cookies. They have been baked there since the Spaniards conquered the area and brought their wheat and recipes for bread and biscuits from Europe. In 1928 a railway station opened in Cayambe and the villagers started to sell the bizcocha cookies from the platform to the travelers on the train. The buttery cookies became very popular and now it seems that the whole town is made up of bizcocherias.
Bizcocha means cookie in Spanish, but these cookies are special. They are made of yeast dough that must rise first and they hardly taste sweet at all. In Ecuador they are combined with sweet and savory. You eat them with a stringy cheese or with dulce de leche caramel. The best bizcochas are, of course, from the wood-burning stoves of Cayambe, but the results from my ordinary oven were also very tasty. Do you like a sweeter cookie? Just add some extra sugar or eat with a generous dollop of dulce de leche.
The traditional rangeena cookie from Qatar is delicious, but also very sweet and sticky. A bit too much for a few of my testers. For my variation, I combined the original flavors with some bitter and fresh undertones. I ground the original cookies coarsely and mixed in some nice dark chocolate, grated fresh ginger and some grated orange rind. I then rolled little balls from the mixture and dipped them into melted chocolate. The result is a deliciously soft ball with crunchy pieces of nut coated in crispy dark chocolate. This chocolate date ball is real treat!
In the desert country Qatar the date palm is king. Even in this hot, dry land without much proper fertile soil, the tree produces large bunches of dates. They are the ultimate desert food, high in calories, easy to keep and easy to carry. No wonder many dishes and sweets in this country are prepared with this sticky sweet fruit. The rangeena cookie from Qatar was traditionally made when the new date harvest was brought in. You can find rangeena in all sorts of shapes and forms. It is served with a thin flour and ghee sauce as a warm dessert, or firm, the way I made it, as a snack. I was wondering if I could call it a cookie because no oven is used to make it. But the flour – which is toasted for a deeper taste – made me decide I could. Because dates are very sweet you do not need much sugar in the dough and you will even see recipes without any sugar at all. I added just a little bit of powdered sugar to mine. You only need a thin slice of this sweet confection with its crunchy center of nuts to satisfy the sweetest of teeth. Mmmm!