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Life is too short to eat bad food! Sharing great recipes, farm life, stories and photography from our Northern California dairy farm.

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August 14, 2010

Bolashas De Espece ~ Portuguese

My aunt used to make the BEST Portuguese cookies.  She has since past away and I think it's really important for my family heritage to learn how to bake these labor intensive cookies.  I searched online and through a couple of my Portuguese cookbooks to see if I could find the recipe but had no luck.  At a Portuguese Festa, a plate of these said cookies are normally auctioned off at at least $65 a plate!   This is another reason to learn how to make these because I am not paying $65 for a plate of cookies.....sorry Portuguese Holy Ghost Society, I know it's a fund raiser but I just can't do that.

Just recently, my cousin, Victor came up for a visit from southern CA and he brought with him, his mom's recipe for these cookies.  They have been called Portuguese Horseshoe Cookies or the proper name, Bolashas De Espece {espeshie cookies}.

After our long day in Healdsburg, we had dinner then we got busy baking these cookies.  When or if you have house guests, try cooking or baking with them......we had the best time!



Here's what you need.  {full recipe below}

For the filling, bring water, sugar and butter to a boil, then turn off the heat.


Grind up anis seeds.

Lisa, grinding the anis.

Blend in a bowl, lemon rinds, cinnamon, cloves, allspice, nutmeg, pepper anis extract and 1/2 of the plain bread crumbs.




Add to the pot of water, butter & sugar.

You will probably need to add the remaining 8 oz. of bread crumbs, but add them slowly so the mixture becomes firm enough to mold into little sausage-like shapes without falling apart. If you find the mixture is too thick and think it may crumble when rolling into little sausages, add more water.  If it's too thin, add more bread crumbs.  This is really difficult to describe, you just have to go by feel .....hopefully my photos will help.


We added the remaining bread crumbs to the mixture.





Set this mixture aside, covered with a towel.  When cool, add 1/3 cube of butter to the mixture and knead it again well.

Now for the dough.  Mix flour and Crisco {yes Crisco! you read correctly} together with pastry blender.  Add in eggs, sugar and 1/2 the amount of water and mix well with your hands.  Add in more water as you go until it's all blended.




Work that dough like you've never worked dough before.  We did this for a good 20 minutes!  Now I understand why these cookies go for $65 a plate!  Phew!  I was sweating  and it was coming up on 9 p.m. at night.





Give your over-tired, 3 year old who's up way past her bedtime some dough to play with.



Wrap the precious dough and refrigerate for an hour.

Butter your fingers and begin working on rolling the filling for the cookies.





My niece Ami.

After the filling is ready to go, roll out some dough.  Really thin.  This is where, if you have a pasta attachment for your Kitchen Aid mixer, you'd want to whip it out and use it.....instead of rolling by hand.  I don't have said attachment {ravioli attachment} but it is now on my list of things to purchase because I'm not making these cookies again without one. 

Place the filling in center of dough and fold over.

Use pastry cutter to cut the dough following the filling.

Shape into a horseshoe.

Snip seven cuts into the top of the cookie to allow for the filling to pop out during the baking time.



It's 10:30 p.m. and we're tired and slap happy at this point.

Finished product.  Now our filling did not pop out as it was supposed to.  We think we added too much bread crumbs to the filling but the taste was spot on.  This cookie has the flavor of sweet {the dough} and spice with a pepper after taste.  If you ever get the chance to try one, do it and if you've been searching for this recipe, as I had been, here it is!  Enjoy!





Bolashas De Espece

For the Filling:
1 15 oz container of plain bread crumbs
2 T cinnamon
1 T nutmeg
1 T anis seed, ground
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 stick unsalted butter
zest of one lemon
2 cups of sugar
1 cup of water
Bring water, butter and sugar to boil, then turn off heat.  Mix the remaining ingredients and only half of the bread crumbs in a separate bowl and mix, then add to the pot on the stove and mix.  Add the remaining bread crumbs.  Let mixture cool, covering with a towel.  After it's cooled, add 1/3 cube of butter and knead it again well.

After cooled, roll out little wienie like rolls, about 1/3 inch in diameter, 5 inches long.  Set aside.

For the Dough:
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
7 cups of bread flour
8 oz. of Crisco {vegetable shortening}.....
1 1/3 cup cold refrigerated water - put about 1/2 in and then a little more at a time while mixing.
pinch of salt
Blend Crisco into about 5 cups of the flour with a pastry blender.  Add remaining ingredients.  Keep adding remaining flour {and water}as you go.
Knead dough with your hands until blended well.  Cover and refrigerate.  This is when you can prepare the filling.
Take dough out of fridge and roll out thin.  Place the filling roll on the dough and fold over.  Use pastry cutter to cut around the filling.  Bend into horseshoe shape and cut 7 snips in the top of cookie.

Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.


Happy Saturday!
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