Thursday, October 15, 2009

Feast Day: St. Teresa of Avila

Now, this is a cool saint ... she's one of only three women Doctors of the Church ... yep, that's how profound are her writings.  Dh studied her extensively in grad school and still loves reading about her.  I never studied her but everytime I read a quote, I think "yes, exactly!"  For instance the quote I attached the above icon ...

With the Lord by our side, there is nothing we cannot do.  Separated from Him, we will collapse ...

Cool, eh?

Today we learned about St. Teresa (1515-1582, Avila, Spain)  ... and her many gifts to the Church, not least of which would be the reform of the Carmelite order in Spain.  She was one tough woman who didn't take lightly anything that would lead souls away from truly loving God.  We also colored the page Waltzing Matilda so graciously posted for all while we talked about visiting Avila back in 2000 for our Jubilee Year pilgrimage.  It was hot (July in Spain!) and dry and dusty and trains were delayed ... and yet, Avila was cool, clean, and gorgeous! 

I wanted to find a fun recipe to try for this feast.  The yemas -- candied egg yolks -- just didn't sound like anything my family would like and yet that was the only sweet that was associated with St. Teresa!  I decided to do an online search of Spanish recipes and found a great-sounding recipe for polvorones, traditional special-day cookies (often made for Christmas) ... I tweaked the recipe just a tad and must have done the right thing because dh and ALL three of the kids ate almost the whole plate after dinner!  They loved them and dh said it was probably the best cookie I've made!

So, yemas step aside and let's do polvorones for St. Teresa of Avila!  Here's the recipe I made:

  • 1 1/2 cups unbleached white flour
  • 3/4 cup almonds (raw)
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1-1/2 tsp cinnamon


This polvorones or Spanish almond cookie recipe makes approximately 16 (2-inch round) cookies.  We made heart-shaped as I still can't find my biscuit cutters!

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Measure and pour flour out onto a cookie sheet. Place in oven and "toast" the flour. Occasionally move the flour around on the sheet, so that it toasts evenly. Leave in oven for about 8 minutes. Remove and set aside.  At the same time, place raw almonds in a glass pie pan and toast till fragrant (about 8 mins). Remove and place almonds into a food processor. Process almonds until they are finely ground.
Reduce oven temperature to 250 degrees.

Cream butter, egg yolk, sugar and cinnamon together in a large mixing bowl. Add the flour and finely ground almonds and continue mixing. The dough will be very crumbly!
Place a sheet of waxed paper on a cutting board or other flat work surface. Press the dough together to form  ball. Then press the dough onto the waxed paper. Carefully flatten it down to about 3/4-1 inch thick. Use a cookie cutter to cut out the cookies and a spatula to move cookies to cookie sheet for baking.

Bake cookies on ungreased cookie sheet for 30-45 minutes at 250 degrees. Turn off heat and leave cookie sheet in oven, allowing cookies to cool completely before removing them.
That's it ... for "the best cookies I've ever made!"  I think next time I'll try using powdered sugar in lieu of the granulated as I think that will make them even more melt-in-the-mouth!
Blessings and hope you had a wonderful St. Teresa Day! 



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