Last spring, I exchanged several postcards (through a direct swap) with a man in Guatemala. Eight months later, when I decided to teach a Christmas Around the World unit, I contacted him. I explained to him that I was hoping to bake a dessert (cookies or a cake) typically made at Christmastime in Guatemala, and that I had chosen to bake Champurradas.
My first discovery regarding Champurradas:
First, he told me that Champurradas can be found any time in Guatemala...not just at Christmastime! Then, he suggested that I prepare their typical Ponche Navideño (Christmas Fruit Punch).
He provided this website for a recipe:
He provided this website for a demonstration video:
He explained that his mom adds some sugarcane and papaya, and sometimes coconut and hibiscus (Jamaican rose tea). He said that it is "sooo good!!"
He went on to explain that instead of sugar, they use panela, which is what gives the punch its brown color.
I discovered the following about panela:
- Panela is unrefined whole cane sugar, which is a solid form of sucrose derived from the boiling and evaporation of sugarcane juice.
- Panela is sold in many forms, such as granulated, liquid, and solid blocks of different weights.
My second discovery regarding Champurradas:
Originally, I thought Champurradas were a cookie...the kind one eats for dessert at the end of a lunch or supper meal. Since, I have discovered that Champurradas are a "cookie"...the kind one eats for breakfast, dunked in a morning cup of coffee!
My postcard-exchanging friend in Guatemala also said this about Champurradas:
"I really like to eat them with coffee. I never thought about Champurradas as
cookies!! But it's true!! hahaha! :D"
After baking and tasting Champurradas, I understand! :D They are large, crunchy, and not too sweet! (My husband commented that they taste like shortbread cookies, only not as sweet and not as buttery. I agree.)
They are delicious! In retrospect, I think I should have made them a little bigger (in diameter)...and possibly should have baked them a little longer? However, I am happy with my first attempt. :)
Here is the recipe I used:
4 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
1 ounce sesame seeds (approximately 3 tablespoons)
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
In a large bowl, cream the butter, shortening, and sugar. Add the eggs and mix thoroughly. Add the dry ingredients one cup at a time, and mix thoroughly after each addition.
Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough as thin as possible, dusting the rolling pin and surface with flour to prevent sticking. Cut circles using a 3 1/4 inch cookie cutter. Transfer to a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Sprinkle with sesame seeds, and press in lightly.
Bake for 10-12 minutes or until they begin to brown. Remove from the cookie sheet to a rack to cool.
Yield: approximately 3 1/2 dozen
You can find the original version of this recipe here.
P.S. Thank you, dear friend in Guatemala, for the insight! :)