Spanish Mantecado Cookies and Spreadin’ the Food and The Love!!

How angelic is that baby? She would not have slept that well if she had been at the Fireball School fundraiser where our band, The No Rehearsals, (http://www.parentswhorock.com/2010/03/no-rehearsals.html) rocked so loudly that the walls were almost shaking. I hope everyone’s ears have recovered.

I rehearsed and calmed my nerves all day the day of by baking these delicious Spanish shortbread type cookies, Mantecados, that I used to indulge in when I lived in Spain. I brought some to the volunteers at the Fireball and to my neighbor’s house the following day (read why below).

Speaking of volunteers, thank you to all the volunteers who brought the leftover fundraiser food to Montclair’s local soup kitchen, Toni’s Kitchen (http://www.toniskitchen.org/). It felt so good to know that the copious leftovers went to feed the hungry the very next day. See video below.

So, as mentioned above, I brought some leftover mantecados to my neighbor Ollie’s house where she hosted a lovely “Refresh and Gladden your Spirit” gathering last night. It was fun and enlightening and I met some very interesting folks who follow the Baha’i religion. One participant writes a blog discussing the bi-weekly dinners he hosts as part of his way to practice the tenets of his religion. He calls it “Dinner and Divinity” (www.dinneranddivinity.blogspot.com) Check it out.

Now for the moment you’ve all been waiting for-the Mantecados recipe that has made its way all over town. I substituted the pig lard typically used with vegetable shortening. Feel free to use the lard, but I just couldn’t. I slightly modified this recipe from one on aboutfood.com

Mantecado Cookies:
* 1 cup organic vegetable shortening (can get at Whole Foods)
* 1/2 cup canola oil
* 3/4 cup sugar
* 2 eggs (separate yolks from whites)
* 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
* 1/4 teaspoon ground anise seed
* 1 lemon’s zest
* 2 teaspoons lemon juice
* 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
* 3 1/2 cups flour

Peel the lemon zest with a zester or small holes of a grater. If you don’t have one, you can use vegetable peeler and get the yellow part of the lemon, NOT the bitter white part called the pith.

In alarge mixing bowl or Kitchen Aid mixer, whip the vegetable shortening. Then add in oil, and when it incorporates into the shortening, add sugar, egg yolks, ground anise, lemon zest, juice, and cinnamon. Mix together until fully combined.

Add flour and baking soda to the mixture and be sure to mix well. At the end of your mixing, the dough will become a texture of wet crumbs.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Take enough dough to form walnut-sized balls, and roll them between your hands. Place the cookie onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.

Lightly press down on each ball to flatten slightly. Brush the egg white on top of each cookie. Place the cookies in the oven and bake until they turn light brown. Let the cookies cool 2-3 minutes and serve.

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