Chocolate Sparkle Cookies


Galletas brillosas de chocolate

These are Thomas Haas’s chocolate sparkle cookies, you can buy these directly from his store or places like gourmet warehouse in packs of 6, they are sold frozen so you can bake them at home. This recipe was published in the Vancouver sun a few years ago and proclaimed the ‘worlds greatest chocolate cookie’ and I assure you it will not disappoint. A great part of this dessert is that it is gluten free, and since my dad is allergic to wheat, it is always nice to have a gluten free dessert that everyone can enjoy.

Served just like this in the summer months, with Marios Gelato vanilla bean ice cream (the BEST vanilla ice cream you can buy IMHO) and fresh raspberries is our favorite way to serve these simple cookies as a dessert.

The Ingredients

  • 1/2 lb bittersweet chocolate (we used semi sweet callebeaut) / chocolate semi amargo.
  • 3 tbsp butter (at room temperature) / cucharas de matequilla (a temperatura ambiente)
  • 2 eggs / huevos
  • 1 tbsp honey / cucharilla de miel
  • 1/3 cup sugar / tazas de azúcar
  • 3/4 cup ground almonds / tazas de almendras molidas
  • 2 tsp cocoa powder / cucharilla de cocoa
  • pinch of salt / pizca de sal

The Instructions

  • Melt the chocolate on a double boiler (or a stainless steel bowl sitting over a saucepan of simmering water) / Derretir el chocolate en baño maría (esto es para no quemar el chocolate)
  • Remove from the heat and add the room temperature butter in small pieces and mix into the chocolate / Sacar del fuego y agregar la matequilla cortada en pedazos, mezclar hasta que la matequilla esté derretida
  • Beat eggs in a mixer or with a whisk and add the sugar and honey gradually until the mixture lightens in color and texture and falls in thick smooth ribbons – this takes a bit of time – about 10 minutes by hand or 5 minutes in the electric mixer) / Batir lo huevos y agregar poco a poco la miel y la azúcar hasta que cambien de color más claro y la textura sea suave, esto toma unos 10 minutos si lo haces a mano y 5 minutos si lo haces con la batidora.

  • Fold the egg mixture into the melted chocolate / Agregar gentilmente los huevos al chocolate
  • Mix the cocoa powder with the ground almonds fold into the melted chocolate and egg mix / Mezclar la cocoa con las almendras molidas y agregar a la mezcla del chocolate

  • Line a bowl with plastic wrap and pour the batter into the bowl, cover, and refrigerate overnight. / Poner la mezcla en un recipiente, cubrir y regrigerar durante la noche.
  • Uncover bowl and lift chocolate out of the bowl and onto a cutting board. Divide into approximately 36 pieces. These pieces may seem very small but they do spread out quite a bit and are incredibly rich so a couple small cookies is all you need for a serving / Poner la mezcla sobre una tabla de cortar y dividirla en 36 piezas , hay que tener en cuenta de que la masa crecerá en el horno.

  • After dividing the mixture into pieces, roll each one in the palms of your hands into balls. Wash your hands with cold water before starting as the heat of your hands will quickly begin to melt the chocolate. I usually rinse my hands in cold water to wash my hands clean and in cold water every 7 pieces or so, otherwise the chocolate begins to melt too fast. / Transforma cada pieza dividida en bolitas pero antes lávate las manos con agua fria, ya que puedes derretir el chocolate por el calor de tus manos. Usulamente yo me lavo las manos cada 7 galletas.
  • After forming the little balls, roll them in white sugar (this is what makes them ‘sparkle‘) then you can bake them or freeze them in a container. I’m not really sure how long they will keep in the freezer, as we’ve always ended up baking them (or eating the truffles frozen straight from the freezer) within at least a couple of weeks. / Después de formar las bolitas, envolverlas con azúcar y se puede hornear o poner en un contenedor y colocarlos al congelador.

  • When ready to serve, preheat your oven to 325 and place as many cookies as you would like on a baking sheet covered in parchment, and bake for approximately 10 minutes, or until small cracks start to form all over the cookies. / Para sevir tienes que calentar el horno a 325 y pon las galletas sobre papel para hornear, dejar las galletas por 10 minutos en el horno o hasta que pequeñas grietas comienzen a formarse sobre las galletas.
  • Let cool a few minutes before removing from the parchment and serve warm with ice cream and berries. / Dejar enfriar por algunos minutos antes de sacarlos del papel para hornear, servir con helado y con fresas, frambuesas o moras.



Seafood Paella

A lot of the food me and Fabio make is inspired by something we’ve had the chance to enjoy in the past – either at a great restaurant here or back in Bolivia, or from trips we’ve taken and the food we’ve experienced while traveling. Our post this week is a seafood Paella, which rather than being inspired by a trip we have already taken is in fact based on a future meal and a future trip that we are eagerly anticipating to Spain.

This is a Spanish classic, and a wonderfully flexible type of dish. We made ours with a combination of chorizo sausage, and fresh seafood (Mussels, Calamari, and Prawns). We did need to pick up a few items to make this recipe – one of those was a paella pan (which was less than $20 at Williams Sonoma) a small container of Saffron – which it turns out is the most expensive spice in the world (no exaggeration) as each thread is handpicked from the Crocus Sativus flower, and a bag of Bomba rice (you can also use Calasparra rice – and even though they both look just like Arborio rice – I read many recipes that claimed the consistency is different, so we decided to just go for the real thing, no substitutions)

Just as with most recipes, we found it to be very useful to have everything prepped in advance – our mis en place – and it made entertaining with this dinner completely stress free as we were able to more or less put together dinner while our guests were over having cocktails (sangria of course!) and when the rice was finished we just placed the paella pan in the middle of the table with a couple large spoons so that everyone could serve themselves.

* A big Thank-you to Allan for taking the noticeably better photos for this weeks post!

** You might notice that the step-by-step photos don’t exactly match the quantity of ingredients listed – this is because we made a ‘test run’ of the recipe before our dinner party. While this really is a simple recipe to make, it would have been a bit much to be cataloguing it for photos while having guests over.

The following recipe serves four generously

The Ingredients

  • 1 onion / cebolla
  • 1 red pepper / pimiento rojo
  • 4 cloves garlic / ajos
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley / cucharadas de perejil cortado
  • 2 tomatoes / tomoates
  • olive oil / aceite de oliva
  • 2 teaspoons paprika / cucharitas de pimentón
  • 3 chorizo sausages / chorizos
  • 1 1/2 pounds mussels / libra de mejillones
  • 12 large prawns / camarones grandes
  • 4 tubes calamari / calamares
  • 2 cups bomba rice / tazas de arroz bomba
  • 3 1/2 cups fish stock / tazas de caldo de pescado
  • 1/2 cup white wine / taza de vino blanco
  • pinch of saffron threads / una pizca de azafrán
  • 1/2 cup green peas / taza de arbejas
  • 1 lemon / limón

The Instructions

  • Heat fish stock in a saucepan, and set about an inch of water in a separate saucepan over medium heat (for cooking the mussels later) / Primeramente calentar el caldo de pescado en una olla, también en otra olla hervir a fuego medio algunos centímetros (no muchos) de agua para cocinar los mejillones.
  • Prepare all the ingredients, dice the onion, pepper and tomatoes, chop the parsley, and mince the garlic / Prepare todos los ingredientes, corte la cebolla, los pimientos y tomates, corte el perejil y los ajos también.

  • Devein the prawns, slice calamari tubes into strips, slice chorizo and scrub mussels / Sacar las venas a los camarones (si es que es necesario), cortar en rajas el calamar, cortar el chorizo y lavar la concha de los mejillones.
  • Add a couple tablespoons olive oil to the paella pan and set over medium-high heat then add the diced onion, parsley and most of the the minced garlic. Stir while they all cook together for a few minutes. / Agrege el aceite de oliva a la paellera y dejar calentar a fuego medio-alto, poner la cebolla, perejil y el ajo. Cocinar estos ingredientes por algunos minutos.

  • Add the chopped tomatoes and 2 teaspoons of paprika and cook until the liquid has evaporated. This is known as Sofrito and is the flavor base for many spanish recipes / Agregar los tomates cortados y 2 cucharadas de pimentón, cocinar hasta que el líquido se haya evaporado.
  • Remove the Sofrito mixture to a small bowl and set aside / Luego coloque la mezcla que acaba de coninar en un contenedor y dejar de lado.
  • When the saucepan with an inch or so of water is boiling, add the scrubbed mussels and cover with a lid to steam for 5 minutes. The mussels will (hopefully) all have opened up. Throw away any mussels that are still closed after steaming as they are not good to eat / Cuando la olla en el cual colocó algunos centímetros de agua esté hirviendo agrege los mejillones, taparlos por 5 minutos . Despues de esto los mejillones se abrirán, si es que algunos no abren esto significa que no es bueno para comer y debe botarlo.
  • Add another tablespoon of olive oil to the Paella pan with the rest of the minced garlic and add the prawns – saute the prawns for a couple of minutes and then add the calamari rings and cook for another 2 minutes / Agrege nuevamente otra cucharada de aceite de oliva a la paellera, luego un diente de ajo y los camarones, cocinarlos por algunos minutos, agrege el calamar y cocinarlos por 2 minutos.
  • Remove the cooked prawns and calamari from the paella pan and add a few turns of fresh cracked pepper and a pinch of salt / Sacar de la paellera los calamares y camarones, poner pimienta y una pizca de sal y dejar de lado.
  • With a couple more tablespoons of olive oil in the paella pan – with the heat brought down to medium, cook the diced peppers for 5-6 minutes / Agregar algunas cucharadas de aceite de oliva a la paellera a fuego medio y cocinar el pimiento rojo por 5 a 6 minutos.

  • Add to the peppers the sofrito, the sliced chorizo, and 1/2 cup of white wine to deglaze the pan and cook together a few minutes more / Agregar el sofrito (la mezcla preparada anteriormente con cebolla, perejil, ajo y tomate) al pimiento rojo e incluir una media taza de vino blanco y el chorizo.
  • Pour the 2 cups of bomba rice over the mixture and then pour the hot fish stock over everything and and stir together well. Add a pinch of saffron threads, a couple teaspoons of salt and a few more turns of cracked pepper / Agregar 2 tazas de arroz bomba y luego el caldo de pescado y mezclar todo. Agrege una pizca de azafrán y sal y pimienta a gusto.
  • Bring the mixture to a simmer and maintain for about 10 minutes (do not stir) / Cocine los ingredientes a fuego medio por 10 minutos ( no lo mueva ni lo mezcle)
  • Lower the heat to medium low and cook for another 15 minutes (still do not stir) / Cocinar a fuego lento por 15 minutos (no lo mueva ni lo mezcle)

  • Near the end of the cooking time, pay close attention to the pan, all liquid will have been absorbed into the dish, you can place a wooden spoon down the side of the pan, moving the rice off to the side to make sure that all the liquid has been absorbed and just before you remove the paella pan from the element, increase the heat to medium high, just to cook off the remaining moisture and toast the rice at the bottom of the pan / Cuando casi está listo se puede ver que el líquido ha sido absorbido, si es posible con una cuchara de palo trata de ver al fondo de la paellera si es que esta seco. Antes de sacar la paellera fuera del fuego, subir la temperatura a fuego medio alto, esto es para rápidamente abosorber todo el líquido y tostar el arroz un poco
  • Place the already cooked mussels into the rice in a circle around the pan, distribute the rest of the seafood throughout the middle of the dish and sprinkle everything with the green peas. Cover the pan with a sheet of aluminum foil and allow to rest for 5 minutes. This will heat the mussels and seafood back up as they have been sitting out for 25 minutes or so / Colocar la comida de mar que ya está cocinada sobre la paella, también las arbejas. Tapar la paellera con papel aluminio y dejar a un lado por 5 minutos, esto es para calentar la comida de mar.

Serve the dish with plenty of lemon wedges for squeezing over the rice and seafood / Servir la paella con rodajas de limón para exprimir sobre la paella y la comida de mar

Papas a la Huancaína

Appetizer, Lunch, Peruvian, Snack

If I had to narrow down my list of favourite Peruvian dishes, this simple salad would be right up there near the top. I first had this salad when I was in Peru a few years ago, staying with my friend Carolina. Just as soon as I finished my first bite I started asking about what this sauce was – how was it made? what was it called? what were the ingredients? and I knew I would have to learn how to make this myself. When Carolina listed off the ingredients for me I was surprised and a bit in disbelief when she mentioned crackers as one of them… but as I’ve learned, the soda crackers are an important component. The other two key parts of this recipe are the potato (Peru is famous for its hundreds of potato varieties and this recipe is typically made with the Peruvian yellow potato) and the yellow pepper (aji amarillo) a spicy pepper from the Andes and common in lots of Peruvian as well as Bolivian dishes.

The cheese that is normally used is called queso fresco, which is an unaged white cheese and is similar enough in taste to queso blanco which is a white cheese that you can easily make at home. We’ve had a hard time finding queso fresco and so we made the queso blanco ourselves and it worked really great. If you can not find queso fresco or blanco at your supermarket AND you don’t feel like making it yourself, you can just use a cheese like feta (but go easy on it as it is so salty) or ricotta.

This is a tremendously versatile sauce both in how it is served and how it is made. Many variations of this recipe are available online and, of course, in the memories and homes of Peruvians all over the world, and when this recipe is broken down it is basically a spicy cheese sauce, and while it is truly fantastic just like this over boiled potatoes, it also works well as a dip for veggies, and (as Fabio brilliantly discovered) for pizza! You can customize your huancaína sauce to be extra spicy, cheesy, or creamy as you like it. We hope you enjoy it as much as we do.

First – this is how to make the queso blanco used in in the huancaína sauce. The recipe is adapted from Karen Solomon’s book Jam it, Pickle it, Cure it

The Queso Blanco

The Ingredients

  • 8 cups homogenized milk (whole milk) / tazas de leche entera
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar / taza de vinagre de manzana
  • 2 teaspoons salt / cucharillas de sal

The Instructions

  • Clip a thermometer to the side of a saucepan, add milk and place over medium heat for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally until the temperature reads 185 degrees F / Poner la leche en una olla con una termómetro y poner sobre fuego medio y calentar por 25 minutos batiendo ocasionalmente hasta que la temperature alcanze los 185 degrados F
  • Add the vinegar and stir just until incorporated throughout / Agregar el vinagre y batir hasta que este incorporado
  • Turn off the heat and let the milk sit for about 10 minutes / Apagar el fuego y dejar por diez minutos

  • At this point you will notice curds separating from the whey / a esta punto se puede notar la nat a la cual es el queso
  • Using a slotted spoon, scoop the curds into a mesh sieve that is sitting over another bowl and let drain / Usando una cuchara con agujeros sacar el queso y ponerlos en un colador fino sobre un recipiente y colar
  • Discard the whey that has drained into the bowl and then empty the drained curds into the empty bowl and toss together with the salt / Elimine el liquido que esta en la recipiente y poker el queso en el recipiente vacio y mezclar con la sal
  • Move the curds onto a clean kitchen towel, a cheese cloth or into a milk bag (a mesh bag used for almond/rice milk etc). Tie curds up in material and squeeze gently then hang over a bowl or the sink for about 45 minutes / Poner el queso sobre un pañuelo para queso y atar y presionar escurriendo, colgar sobre el grifo por 45 minutos

Queso Blanco

  • Transfer the drained cheese curds to a (makeshift) cheese press and weight it for 3-4 hours / Poner el queso en una lata vacia y presionar el queso por 3 o 4 horas
  • The cheese is ready to be used and can be kept in the refrigerator wrapped in wax paper for up to one week / El queso esta listo, y se puede quedar en el refrigerador por una semana

The Papas a la Huancaína

The Ingredients

  • 3 potatoes (yukon gold preferable) / papas
  • 4 eggs hard boiled / huevos duros
  • 3/4 cup queso blanco or feta / tazas de queso
  • 1 garlic clove crushed / ajo
  • 1 cup of milk / taza de leche
  • 2 to 3 tbsps of ají amarillo paste (depending how spicy to want it) / cucharadas de ají amarillo (si quiere más picante agrege más)
  • 2 tbsps of olive oil / cucharadas de aceite de oliva
  • 1-2 tbsps lime juice / cucharadas de jugo de limón
  • 6 to 8 soda crackers (depending of the texture) / galletas de agua
  • black olives / aceitunas negras
  • lettuce / lechuga

The Instructions

  • Peel and boil the potatoes and then cut into thick slices / Pelar las papas y hervirlas, luego cortarlas en rodajas.
  • For the salsa Huancaína: In a blender or food processor add the cheese, garlic, ají amarillo paste and milk. Blend for 10-20 seconds then add a few crackers, the olive oil and lime juice / Para la salsa Huancaína: en una licuadora poner el queso, ajo, ají amarrillo y la leche y licuar. También agreagar las galletas de agua, aceite y jugo de limón.
Ají Amarillo
  • Check the consistency and taste – if the sauce needs more thickening add more crackers and blend a few more seconds / Pruebe y ponga sal y pimienta al gusto, si la salsa esta muy liquida ponga mas galletas ya que esto hará a espesar la salsa.

Papas a la Huancaína

  • To serve – place the lettuce on a plate and top with the sliced potatoes, the salsa a la huancaína should be poured over the potatoes covering them. To garnish add some black olives and wedges of the hard boiled eggs / Para servir ponga la lechuga en un plato y las papas encima, colocar la salsa sobre las papas cubiréndolas. Poner aceitunas negras y rebanadas de los huevos duros para la decoracion.