If you've been keeping up on my recipes this week, you know that I've been making use of the wonderful cheeses from Queso Del Valle. I thought a dessert would be a nice way to end the week. Lulu and I had lunch at the appropriately named "Lulu's" Mexican restaurant last Sunday, and we both enjoyed a nice cup of horchata (cinnamon-flavored rice drink). I thought it would be fun to capture the rice and cinnamon flavors of the drink in an edible form.
I made cookies with queso fresco and incorporated sweetened condensed milk, horchata, almonds, rice flour and cinnamon. I didn't stop there and topped the moist cookies with cinnamon and crema Mexicana sour cream icing.
These horchata cookies turned out great and I might whip another fusion dessert before the weekend is over. How do profiteroles filled with Mexican vanilla-flavored queso fresco and crema Mexicana sour cream sound? I think it would be even more luscious if the profiteroles are drizzled with dulce leche. Mmmm...
Servings: 20 cookies
¾ cup all-purpose flour
1½ tablespoons long-grain white rice flour
⅓ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
4½ tablespoons unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
2½ tablespoons sweetened condensed milk
½ cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons almond paste
¾ cup queso fresco, tightly packed
1 tablespoon horchata (or rice milk)
2 teaspoons light brown sugar
½ teaspoon cinnamon extract
2 tablespoons cream cheese, at room temperature
1 tablespoon sweetened condensed milk
1½ tablespoons crema Mexicana sour cream
⅛ teaspoon cinnamon, freshly grated
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped almonds
For the horchata mix: In a bowl, combine the cinnamon extract, rice flour, horchata drink (or rice milk) and 1½ tablespoons condensed milk. Stir well and set aside.
Making horchata flavored cookies:
Preheat the oven to 375°F.
In a bowl, cream 2½ tablespoons butter and granulated sugar. Add the egg. Mix until smooth. Add all-purpose flour and salt. Mix well. Add the crumbled queso fresco, horchata mix and almond paste. Mix until a wet cookie dough is formed.
Line a baking sheet with a silicone mat or a sheet of parchment paper. Using a measuring tablespoon, form 20 balls of cookie dough and place onto the baking sheet. Make sure to space the cookies about 2 inches apart so that they don't touch each other as they expand when they bake.
Bake the cookies for 15-17 minutes. Don't over bake them; you want them to be moist. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.
Layer a cooling rack on top of a baking sheet (for easy clean-up of the cinnamon icing). Transfer the cookies onto the cooling rack.
For the cinnamon icing:
In a bowl, combine 2 tablespoons cream cheese, 2 tablespoons butter, 1 tablespoon sweetened condensed milk, light brown sugar, crema Mexicana sour cream and grated cinnamon. Mix well.
Top each cookie with the cinnamon icing, sprinkle with chopped almonds and dust with a bit of cinnamon.
Serve with piña colada or horchata drink.
I used Odense brand almond paste. I love it for when I need a shortcut; it produces delicious pastries.
You can also freeze the tray of the unbaked cookies for at least one hour, then transfer the cookies into bags that you vacuum-seal and place back in the freezer. I think it's the best way to keep the same flavor without getting freezer burn. You can store them up to 2 months in the freezer for last minute surprise guests.
Rice flour adds a great texture to the cookies. You can find rice flour in most Asian stores, but I prefer grinding my own. I get a finer flour using the Nutrimill brand mill. You could also replace it with regular all-purpose flour.