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Stovetop cookies

Lately my family has been asking me to cook these cookies. These are traditional in México, and I don't know if it's easy to get hold of "natas" where you live, but if you can get them you should really try them, and think of your friend in México while you enjoy them with tea, coffee or a tall glass of cold milk!

You will need

1 cup of natas *, cold but not frozen
1/2 cup of sugar, brown preferably. This is the usual ammount, but I've noticed it can take less, so I taste as I go and when it's just a bit sweeter than say condensed milk I stop adding sugar. Again, it's up to you and your sweet tooth.
1 to 2 lbs flour. It depends on how fresh or moist your natas are and the amount of sugar you used. More sugar = more flour needed.

Optional (I always add this)

1 T vanilla concentrate
1 T ground cinnamon

Special equipment needed:

- a tortilla press or a rolling pin
- a plastic bag or two pieces of waxed paper

- a mixing bowl
- a flat pan
( a crêpe pan is perfect, but you can use any shallow pan that,allows you to flip the cookies without burning yourself with the pan edge in the process.
- a spoon to mix the first ingredients. Or a spatula, or whatever you prefer. Even a whisk, although it will be harder to clean. I like using a wood spatula, but whatever rocks your boat! You could always use  a stand alone mixer, from start to finish, but I love mixing my batches by hand so I can get a feeling of the texture.
- cooling racks

I'm gonna have a cup of tea while you gather all the ingredients...


Ok, in a bowl cream the sugar and natas. No matter what you use, the mix starts to get fluffy and creamy. Now is the time to add cinnamon and vanilla.

Start adding the flour. As you mix it will be increasingly harder to mix with the spatula, by now you can start kneading by hand.

Mix enough flour so it does not longer stick to the sides of the bowl. Let it rest for about five minutes. In this time, get your cooling racks out and your pan hot. You will be using medium heat, and a LOT of patience,

Now, if you have ever made corn tortillas, the next steps will be a breeze! I have a very heavy wood press, but if you have a metal one, it's good too!  open two sides of your plastic bag with a knife so you have a large rectangle. Pinch a bit of the cookie dough to make a 1 inch ball, and place on one side of the rectangle, fold the other half over it and close the press.

Sort of like this. Now, there are TWO things that are crucial to this cookies. The first is that you must make the cookies VERY VERY thin. They will spring back a bit while cooking, but do your best to make them as thin as you can. (see the image above? aim for about half as thick)

If you don't have a tortilla press:

Place a one inch ball over a piece of waxed paper , cover with another piece of waxed paper (you can do this with the plastic bag, and it is very easy). Then roll it so you get a round cookie form, again, very  very thin.

Did I tell you it has to be VERY thin?. Oh, well it must be.

Now carefully peel the cookie from both pieces of plastic or waxed paper. Place carefully on the hot pan  and let it cook (it will change from shiny to matte) and turn it over. It will take some time for it to cook, since you don't want to singe it. THIS is the second very important thing. It MUST cook over medium fire, slowly. You may need to turn it once and again. If it starts to brown just lightly, it is ok. Since it takes long to cook, I suggest placing three or four cookies at the time.

Now place the cookie on the cooling rack. At this point it is sort of like a wafer, so you can shape it. You can place it inside muffin metal cups so you get a cookie cup for  icecream or you can bend it over the rolling pin and have a half crescent shape, or even fold it like a fortune cookie! me, I like them flat.

I know it doesn't look like much, but trust me, these cookies are delicious!

Let me know if you make them!

*You might know the natas as milk skin. It is formed when you boil fresh milk. If you have fresh milk, as in freshly milked from a cow oposite to pasteurized milk from the supermarket, once you boil it and let it cool, the nata is a thick layer that forms right at the surface. It is creamy, but it is very different from cream, which is extracted from raw milk.


vikki said...

I was going to ask what natas was..and there it is at the end..have a great day

Libby said...

It sounds good. I've gotten out of practice using a tortilla press, but I have one!


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