I visited Venezuela a few times and although I have fond memories of arepas (cornmeal patties) stuffed with all sorts of delicious fillings, buttery giant avocados and tropical fruit shakes, I cannot remember ever tasting these cookies. I missed out on something special! The traditional paledonia cookie from Venezuela is made with ‘papelon’, unrefined cane sugar, that is grated from big sticky, dark blocks. Paledonias are also called catalinas or cucas and originate from the sugar cane growing areas inland. It is a simple cookie made from only a few ingredients and has a soft, almost cake-like consistency and a crunchy crust. It is a cookie that will be baked at home, not bought in the store, and the taste of the unrefined cane sugar in this old fashioned cookie brings back childhood memories for many Venezuelans. If you manage to stay away from this cookie it keeps very well in an airtight tin. Mine disappeared too quickly to check how long exactly!
Paledonia cookie from Venezuela
For about 15 cookies
325 grams (1 ⅔ cups) unrefined cane sugar (or dark muscovado sugar)
1 cinnamon stick
60 ml (¼ cup) water
325 grams (2⅔ cups) flour
150 grams (⅔ cups) unsalted butter
1 teaspoon cinnamon powder
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
Place the sugar, cinnamon stick and water in a pan and softly bring to a boil. Keep stirring on low heat until the sugar has dissolved. Take off the heat and leave to cool slightly.
In a bowl rub the flour, egg, butter, cinnamon powder, salt and baking powder between your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine crumbs.
Take out the cinnamon stick and add the syrup to the dough.
Knead into a soft dough.
Preheat the oven to 150°C / 330°F. Roll the dough into little balls as big as a walnut (about 25 grams) en place them on a cookie sheet covered with baking paper. Bake them in the middle of the oven for 30 min. Take out of the oven and leave to cool on the cookie sheet.
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