This is the story of a failure. No, my dear little creatures, not everything in my life is success. Not everything in my life is luxury, beauty, power and gigolos, as you would imagine. Sometimes I suffer reversals of fate. I don’t know if I’ll ever recover from this setback in particular.I fear that it can ruin my incipient and already uncertain career as a master pastry chef… it could force my confinement in bed, reduced to a wreck without the strength to overcome it, as Charlie‘s grandparents, yes, Charlie of the chocolate factory. So much distress in such a small body (in vertical direction). I shall now tell everything… Everything? Yes, everything… I will spare no gory details.
I happened to have a substantial surplus of egg whites, from past cakes, custards and various pastries. So I rose one day and I told to myself, you could try to make paciencias (literally patiences), you liked them a lot when you were small. Paciencias are small round cookies typical from various parts of Castilla, the central part of Spain. So intelligent of me. There’s little information about them in the net, poor creatures, but I found a recipe for a regiment (which I divided by four) in one of my cookbooks. I had to convert the old units in the recipe to less ancient units, but I was determined to overcome any obstacle to prepare my dear paciencias (which in certain places are also called pedos de monja, nun farts…). The recipe, from some pastry shop in Soria, was utterly vague about the stiffness of the egg whites, about the type of sugar to be used and about the temperature of the oven… I interpreted the recipe as best as I could, but I obviously did something wrong.
Yields around 200 (yes, sooo many)
- 280ml egg whites (10 in my case)
- 400g sugar
- 460g flour
- 1 pinch salt or cream of tartar
- A few drops of lemon essence
- Preheat the oven to 250ºC.
- Weigh the sugar and the flour and set aside.
- Pour the egg whites in a food processor with the salt or cream of tartar and start to whip them. When they start to foam, add the sugar little by little till you get a stiff meringue.
- Then add the sifted flour and the lemon essence. Mix well with a spatula or in a stand mixer, till no flour lumps can be seen.
- Prepare a pastry bag and fill it with dough. Line a couple of cookie sheets with parchment paper and pipe little mounds of approximately 3cm diameter. Keep the bag tip close to the paper, so that the cookies stay flat.
- When you’ve filled one of the sheets with cookies, rap the sheet on the counter for the cookies to spread a little and flatten. Leave them to rest for 5 minutes.
- Put them in the oven and bake for 4-5 minutes. Take them out and leave them to cool on the sheet for 5 minutes. Then slide the paper out of the tray with the cookies on it, sprinkle water on the sheet and return the paper. Wait a couple of minutes for the paper to soak the water. The cookies can now be easily released. Cross my heart.
Well… genuine paciencias have a finer texture and a more uniform color than mine. These were a tad grainy. I remember paciencias as fine and hard little things, toasted on the outside. Maybe it’s not necessary to make the meringue so stiff, but somewhat more runny. Maybe the sugar has to be superfine instead of regular. I don’t know. If anyone owns the secret for making perfect paciencias, I’m willing to buy it. Make yourself apparent. Now.
Anyway, my kids loved them, they found them addictive and the cookies were gone in no time… They were pretty yummy, as the flavor was indeed almost as it should be, but I should give mine another name… templanzas, esperanzas, caridades or… failures. You can’t always get what you want.