Sourcing ingredients is often difficult here, partly because I'm still learning the local names of things but also because many things are simply not available. Take sheep butter, for example. As far as I know, it's only found around here at Intermarche, and the other day it was sold out, so I had to settle for goat butter. Life can be rough. If you want something really exotic like chocolate chips or cream of tartar, you just have to substitute creatively. I do a lot of that. And because I'm in Portugal, it never hurts to add garlic. It adds a new dimension to Spätzle, Portuguese-style for example.
It's actually hard to get the sugars I want here in the heart of the country. White granulated sugar? No problem, though I prefer its common yellow cousin here. But the darker stuff, açúcar moreno, isn't so easy, particularly if you like it really dark. So when I discovered a bag of deep brown sugar with a satisfying molasses whiff to it, I was delighted and snatched it up for the next batch of cookies. These were good, but turned out to be a little strange.
Not that sweet, really. Since I had tweaked other things in what was once a chocolate chip cookie recipe (goat butter, whole wheat flour, Toblerone dark chocolate bars with almond nougat), I dumbed down the other stuff and just tweaked the sugar. These cookies were even better, but still not overpoweringly sweet, then I noticed that the package bore the words "brown rice sugar". For real. I thought it was a translation error, but there really is a sugar substitute made from brown rice. And it's not bad. So I offer you this variation on the new trending cookie of Évora, chipped chocolate:
100 g brown rice sugar
125 g (½ cup) butter (cow, goat, sheep - do what thou wilt)
Cream these together, then add
1 tablespoon amèndoa amarga (I was out of vanilla extract)
2 teaspoons orange zest (this is the killer cookie ingredient)
Whip it some more, then add
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
225 grams flour (usually wheat of some kind, but if the spirit moves you, substitute rye, corn or oat flour as much as you like)
Mix until all the flour is evenly distributed in the wet dough, then add
200 g chipped baking chocolate (dark)
Drop on parchment and bake at 175°C (350°F) for something like 10 minutes.
I told my friend with diabetes that these were better for her. That might not be true, but given the response I think I'll keep lying.
And now for something completely different. I decided it was time to introduce the local Catholics to some good Chanukah tradition: sweet potato latkes served with Greek yogurt and pureed mangos. That seems to be a hit as well (with extra portions set aside for grandchildren), but afterward I was faced with the problem of half a bowl of mango puree and no idea what to do with it. So I did a little research and improvised these mango cookies, which are perhaps the best thing I've made this month:
½ cup butter
1 cup yellow sugar
¼ cup brown rice sugar
2 tsp vanilla
1 ½ tsp cinnamon
2/3 cup mango puree
1 tsp baking soda
1.5 cups wheat flour
1.5 cups corn flour
½ cup of milk
Cream the butter and sugars, then add egg, mango and vanilla. After the mixture is creamed, add 2 cups of flour, the baking soda and cinnamonI suppose you can mess around with the sugars any way you like; I like substituting corn flours for wheat in recipes where gluten isn't needed, and I think it usually improves the character of a cookie. I may try a batch of these using just corn flour. And maybe drop the milk and use more mango puree. And a bunch of other little adjustments, because while lazy translators may crave repetitions, I find that boring in recipes, which I consider to be like German laws: there to be flouted as long as it's a victimless crime. I only make an exception with phenolphthaelin as an additive on special occasions for those on the run.
Bake in a preheated 375°F oven for about 10 minutes or until golden brown.
In the batch I made, it seems that the brown rice sugar was not perfectly mixed in and formed interesting little pockets, which produced a surprising effect when baked. I can't describe it; it needs to be experienced. And it is a delight!