This elegant little golden ring is the traditional rosquilla cookie from Nicaragua. It is made from masa harina: a super fine type of corn flour. For this recipe you can use the instant corn flour or the special treated corn flour. The corn used for the last is dried first. It is then boiled in water with slaked lime, ground and dried again. This whole process makes the corn easier to digest and makes for a more pliable dough. You can use both types of flour for this cookie. The treated masa harina is a staple in many Middle and South American households. It is used to make tortillas, to bake corn bread or form tamales. I was surprised to find queso fresco (very young cheese) in this cookie, but it gives it a nice fresh taste. I used Indian paneer but you could also try some well drained ricotta. The rosquilla is first baked until golden and then slowly dried in a low oven until it is nice and crispy. I like the rosquilla because it is not overly sweet and the masa harina gives the cookie a pleasant, slightly gritty texture. So far I had only used masa harina for making arepas, the fat little Venezuelan and Columbian pancakes that you stuff with cheese, ham and all other kinds of nice things. With half a packet of masa harina left over it will be difficult to choose: arepas for breakfast or another batch of crispy rosquillas to go with my coffee! If you like this cookie, try my variation: corn and coconut cookie.
Rosquilla cookie from Nicaragua
for about 25 cookies
75 grams (unrefined) sugar
175 grams (1 cup) masa harina
½ teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
60 grams (½ stick) butter
½ tbs egg, lightly beaten
175 grams (1 cup) queso fresco (or use paneer or well drained ricotta)
Grate the unrefined sugar.
Mix the sugar with the masa harina, the baking powder and the salt.
Melt the butter and mix in with the egg.
Crumble in the queso fresco and add 125 ml (½ cup) of water.
Knead into a smooth dough. The cheese should be incorporated completely. Mix in some extra water if the dough stays crumbly. Preheat the oven to 180°C / 350°F.
Make little balls of about 20 grams of the dough and roll into little sticks of about 10 cm/ 4½ inches. Bring together the ends to form a ring and press them together. There will be little cracks, but that does not matter. If the dough is too dry to form, just knead in a little more water. Start with 1 tablespoon.
Place the rosquillas on a cookie sheet lined with baking paper and bake in the middle of the oven for 20-25 mins. or until golden brown. Take out of the oven and leave to cool. Turn the oven to 100°C / 200°F and dry the cookies for about 1 hour or until crispy.
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