CakeSpy Note: We just spent a long weekend celebrating the USA; now that it's over, why not celebrate some of the sweet treats from our neighbor to the south, Mexico? Here's a profile on some sweet treats which are popular in Guadalajara, Mexico, which is where Cake Gumshoe Aislinn lives. Here's her report:
So, initially I went scouting for the prettiest pan dulces I could find, but of course I couldn't find "biscocho." On an interesting note, though, my husband, who is Mexican by origin, says that (at least in our region in Mexico) "biscocho" is also a slang word for a cute girl.
Nonetheless, I found several other kinds of cookies and a pan dulce that are very common here in Mexico. I wish I could send you many more, because there are many delicious options for baked goods here, but it's a start!
First, we've got a "concha" (shell), named for the pattern of the sugar topping. Conchas come in white, brown, pink, and yellow. They are supposed to be different flavors, but the only difference is that the brown topping sometimes tastes a teeny bit like cinnamon (although my husband swears the brown ones taste better than the other colors and therefore will ONLY eat the brown ones). The bread itself is fluffy and voluminous, but with a different texture than, say, a croissant. Pan dulce tends to be denser and no where near as sweet as European or American baked goods. They are meant to last several days and to be eaten with coffee or Mexican hot chocolate so that the bread softens up a little in the mouth.
Note: authentic Mexican hot chocolate does NOT have chili in it, and if you ask for chocolate / chili combination, Mexicans look at you like you're speaking an alien language.
Next up is a "budin" (pudding), which comes in the shape of a pig. The budin usually comes in the shape of a pig and is sometimes slathered with a thin layer of chocolate on top. The budhin is very dry and has a taste and texture reminiscent of bread. I am sure these have several different names in different regions, because when one looks for a "budin" recipe, most of the results are pudding recipes.
The third cookie (pictured top) is actually called a cookie ("galleta"). I happened to pick the colored sprinkle cookie ("galleta con grangea") because it makes me happy, but the cookie cookie also comes in chocolate or vanilla and is sometimes topped with pecans ("nuez"). The cookie taste like a crumbly shortbread cookie, but without the butter flavor.
The last one is a "vidrio" (glass pane). The vidrio is another cookie I imagine has several different names. The vidrio also comes in several different forms or shapes: round multicolored, square multicolored, or triangle in chocolate and vanilla. The cookie itself is much sweeter than the others and has almost a sand-like texture as it falls apart in your mouth.
Note: Upon further reflection, I also retract my earlier statement. If I had to guess from the taste and texture, I'd say most to all of the cookies that are made with fat are probably made with vegetable shortening.
Want to learn more about Mexican sweets? You'll find some information in this history of Tex Mex / Mexican food, recipe links and info here, and in case you were wondering, yes, there was a Mexican Pastry War.