We were having lunch at our favorite gluten-free café-restaurant yesterday, when my friend Ally commented that after her flight back from Melbourne last month, she’d arrived at the Ezeiza International Airport in Buenos Aires feeling like she was coming back home.
I found myself nodding vigorously, in complete agreement with her, both of us fellow foreigners who have found our nooks and crannies in a city that is not our own.
I wasn’t born in Argentina, but rather, in the sunny, tropical, sticky and humid Singapore, where I spent the first 25 years of my life. Yet having lived the past six years as a resident in here in Buenos Aires (where I’ve been granted permanent residency), I’d dare to say that Argentina is as much my home as Singapore is.
The finance analyst in me did a quick mental calculation: six out my thirty years on earth equates to twenty percent of my life. Put that way, I’ve lived twenty percent of my life in South America, on the exact opposite side of the globe where I was born. That’s a pretty big part of my life, and nothing to belittle at all.
Long ago, I used to subscribe to the popular idea that your growing up years determine your personality and outlook on life, but the past six years in Buenos Aires, also known as “the Paris of South America”, have led me to revise my beliefs.
I’ve become a different person –for the better I’d like to think- as the experiences I’ve lived and the people I’ve met on this side of the world have gently shaped and molded me and the way I think and act. I’ve definitely evolved as the time passed, learning and adapting my mindset in response to changes in my reality.
What I’m trying to say is that Argentina has changed me, and it has become very much my home, despite the fact that my facial features and Asian accent state the opposite.
Weirdly enough though, I don’t often feature Argentine recipes on my blog, for no reason in particular. But when Juan asked me to bake a gluten-free and vegan version of pepas de membrillo (thumbprint cookies filled with quince jelly), I thought, why not?
Given that Argentina is now my home, and pepas de membrillo are commonly found in almost any decent bakery in this country, it only made sense that the recipe gets the space it deserves on this blog.
In my opinion, these thumbprint cookies aren’t particularly pretty or attractive in their presentation.
(In fact, I think they look very simple, maybe a little too simple? But that’s probably the food stylist in me nit-picking at the most ridiculous things.)
Essentially, they are cookies that have been indented with your thumb (hence the name “thumbprint cookies”), and then filled with quince jelly just before being sent to the oven for a few minutes of baking.
Yet these cookies’ simple appearance betrays the delightful first bite that is a mix between crumbly yellow cookie dough and sticky sweet jam (or jelly in this case).
Paired with a steeping mug of tea, these cookies make for an excellent afternoon snack, or breakfast, if you prefer. Whichever way you eat them, I think you’ll enjoy this simple Argentine sweet treat, very much.
- 2 cups yellow corn flour
- 1 cup cornstarch
- 1 cup tapioca starch
- 1 cup sugar
- 3 teaspoons baking powder
- 2 flax eggs (2 tablespoons flaxseed meal + 6 tablespoons water)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ⅓ cup coconut oil + 1 tablespoons, softened
- ½ cup water + more as needed
- 1½ cups quince jelly
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celsius) and line two baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat.
- Prepare flax eggs by combining flaxseed meal and water. Mix well and let sit in the refrigerator for 15 minutes to combine.
- Heat up the quince jelly with a bit a water until it is a thick, jam-like liquid.
- In a large bowl, beat coconut oil and sugar together until creamy.
- Add in the flax eggs, vanilla extract, yellow corn flour, cornstarch and tapioca starch, and mix until you get a homogeneous dough.
- If necessary, add 1 tablespoon of water at a time until the dough is no longer dry but make sure it isn't too sticky either.
- Using 1 tablespoon of dough per cookie, form balls of cookie dough and place them in single layer on the prepared baking sheet (you will need to use two cookie sheets).
- Flatten the balls of dough and create a small indentation with your thumb.
- Place a teaspoon of quince jelly within each indentation.
- Bake 10 to 11 minutes until the bottom is slightly golden.
- Let the quince jelly thumbprint cookies fully cool before eating them.