¡Saludos del Ecuador!
I’ve been down here for just over a month and am getting ready to wrap up my ecuatiempo this next week in order to move on to the Peruvian part of my adventure. Mientras tanto, I figured I could share some ecuacomida that I’ve been indulging in.
The great thing about just being here to visit is that I get to eat all of my favorite things. I don’t have to just eat potatoes in soup for desayuno at 4am like I did while living in el campo and I can indulge in the better offerings of Ecuadorian cuisine. I’ve also learned to make quimbolitos, an amazing Ecuadorian pastry that I’ll share the recipe for.
So what was on the “to eat” list? Among others….
My friend Kim and I went out to the coast and indulged in tons of ceviche (including the Manabita variety, where they add salty peanut butter!) as well as some BOMB Colombian food at this place called Patacón Pis’ao (smashed plantain).
I’ve been staying with my old host family while here in Quito, and we actually took a day trip down south to Ambato for the sole purpose of eating empanadas de morocho (morocho is a type of corn) and llapingachos. We also had some of my favorite jugo de aguacate (an avocado smoothie made with coconut milk), and got some mote (hominy) and horneado (roast pork) while we were in the market.
We’ve even made “jesus cookies” with what chocolates we had around, since you can’t get Reese’s down here.
We’ve also made oatmeal raisin cookies, an awesome carrot cake (blended, not American-style, recipe forthcoming…), fritada (fried pork, YUM), among other things. It’s been fun learning some traditional ecuacomidas, and sharing some of my own food (like curry-carrot soup and mac n’ cheese).
But on to the recipe. Quimbolitos are super rico Ecuadorian pastries, like little cakes. You eat them with your evening cafecito and they are so delicious and fluffy and just sweet enough. These little flavor bombs are wrapped up in atchiera leaves (native to the Amazon…apparently you can get them sometimes in NY because there’s a large Ecuadorian presence, but otherwise use banana leaves).
- 8 eggs, whites and yolks separated into two large bowls
- 1 1/2 c sugar
- 500 g butter, softened (or margarine, which is much more common here)
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract (or star anise-infused liquor)
- 150 g cheese, grated (use a mild queso fresco, if you can find queso chonta, which is a bit creamier, use that)
- 3 c flour
- 1 c cornstarch
- 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
- raisins (about 3-4 for each quimbolo, so between 75-100 raisins)
- 25 atchiera leaves (or banana leaves), cleaned and rolled out so the spine is soft
- First, sift your flour, cornstarch, and baking soda together.
- In the large bowl where you’ve got your egg yolks, add your sugar, butter cheese, and vanilla. Beat with a hand mixer on high (or in a stand mixer) until you can no longer feel the sugar. This takes a bit with a hand mixer, but I imagine it goes much faster in a stand mixer. The mixture gets a little fluffy, too.
- Once your yolks/sugar/butter/etc are all ready, beat your egg whites in another large bowl with a tiny pinch of salt until they form stiff peaks, a few minutes.
- Add your flour bit by bit to the yolk/sugar/butter mix. Once they are thoroughly combined, fold in your egg whites, bit by bit so that they don’t deflate.
- Add about 1/4 c plus a teensy bit of batter to the center of your leaf, plop a few raisins on top, and fold (you have to fold the leaves in but then the edges out, leaving space on the top for the quimbolo to expand). From there you tuck the ends under.
- Once you have them folded up, they need to be steamed for 30-45 minutes. The ideal is a tamale pot, with two or three steamer layers, but you can use a single pot and a steam basket and do a few at a time.
- IMPORTANT: do NOT stack your quimbolitos while cooking them, they won’t puff up like they need to! One layer at a time.
Once they are cooked, unwrap them and enjoy with a cafecito or a técito. They are so delicious, you’ll want to eat multiple in each sitting!
Enjoy your quimbolitos! Once I make it back to the States, I’ll be back to possibly share some Peruvian food too…vamos a ver.