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Zarela's Recipe: Pimpo

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Toasted Corn Flour Cookies

I was walking through the crowded marketplace at Juchitán, the capital of the Isthmus, when I nearly stumbled over María Ruíz sitting daintily on the ground with two small children in the shade of an arch, next to a basket lined with a snowy embroidered cloth.  I was already attuned enough to the region to think that this pretty young woman did not look quite like the flamboyant juchitecas around her, and sure enough I learned that she was from the town of Tehuantepec some twenty miles distant, where they specialize in making totopos dulces, sweet crackers of fine corn flour and dried coconut.  I could not replicate María's totopos, which require a tandoorlike sunken clay oven, but she gave me her recipe for these little cousins that can be made like cookies in a regular oven.

To grate the sugar, use the fine side of a standard straight-sided grater.  The recipe requires a starchy type of corn.

One 1- 1 1/2-inch piece canela
4 cups dried dent or flour corn kernels 
1/2 cup grated Mexican brown loaf sugar (panela or piloncillo; see page 000), packed before measuring, or 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Grind the canela in an electric coffee or spice grinder.  Set aside.

Spread the corn on a large baking sheet and bake until the kernels are bright yellow, about 40 minutes.  Remove and let cool completely while keeping the oven set to 375°F.

The corn must now be ground to a fine powdery flour.  I prefer to do this in an electric coffee or spice grinder, about 3/4 cup at a time. (You can also grind the kernels in several batches in a food processor, but the flour will not be as finely or evenly ground. 4 cups whole kernels should yield about 2 1/2 cups flour.)   Mix well with the ground canela.  

In a large bowl, cream the butter well and beat in the sugar; continue to beat until light and fluffy.  Gradually add the toasted corn flour mixture, beating well after each addition.  It will form a somewhat stiff dough.

Roll out the dough on a lightly floured board to about 1/2-inch thickness.  With a cookie cutter, cut into 1-inch rounds.  Reroll leftover scraps of dough for cutting until all is used.  Place on a greased baking sheet and bake for 10 - 12 minutes.

Yield: About 3 dozen 1-inch cookies

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Comments [2]

Sylvia from Glendora, California

Huh.I'm Will To Try Making, Bake Very Little..I'm Cook At Heart Love Cooking And Good At It Thanks.For Recipe...I Will Let You No..going To Your Web Now ;)

Oct. 10 2012 10:33 PM
kathryn from Brooklyn

I so miss Zarela's restaurant since it closed.
Will she be opening another restaurant in NYC?

Oct. 10 2012 12:42 PM

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