Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Rousquilles

I frequently overlook anniversaries and significant dates but for some reason I have noticed that this blog’s been wandering along with a puzzled expression on its face for three years now. I recently looked back at the first ever post, which was inspired by a visit to Collioure, and it made me nostalgic for anchovies, blue seas, sweet wines and biscuits.

There’s a fine selection of biscuits available in Collioure. Le Croquant à l'Ancienne, a delicious, crisp almond biscuit, is the true local speciality, but the rousquille was my personal favourite. It’s a Catalan treat that can take a number of forms. The biscuits can vary in size, some don’t have the hole in the middle and some are traditionally made using hard-boiled eggs in the mixture. My version is closer to the one that I enjoyed on the sea front at Collioure but I admit to tweaking the flavours for my personal taste. Many versions have stronger flavours in the biscuit and less lemon in the icing.  This little biscuit can be a bit tricky to get absolutely right, but, whatever happens, you’re likely to get a tasty nibble at the end of it even if it doesn't seem totally authentic.

This recipe makes around 12 biscuits. You’ll probably have a little too much icing, but I didn’t want to give a recipe that divided up a single egg white. You can serve these anytime with tea or, even better, coffee. Of course, a glass of the sweet wine from Banyuls would be pretty good, too. Best of all, serve with un grand crème while listening to the sound of the waves of the Mediterranean lapping gently on the shore. Well, I can dream, can’t I?
Rousquilles
150 g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
50 g icing sugar
45 g unsalted butter
2 egg yolks
1 tbsp runny honey
2 tbsp milk
½ tsp vanilla paste or extract
1 tsp orange blossom water
1 tsp aniseed, lightly crushed

For the icing:
     80 g icing sugar
     40 ml water
     1 egg white
     1 tbsp lemon juice

To make the biscuit, sift together the flour, baking powder and icing sugar. Rub the butter in thoroughly until the mixture is even and sandy. Add the egg yolks, honey, milk, vanilla, orange blossom water and aniseed. Mix together to form a dough but don’t overwork it. Form into a ball, wrap in clingfilm and place in the fridge. Chill for at least two hours.

Preheat the oven to 170°C. On a lightly floured surface roll the dough out to a thickness of around half a centimetre. Cut out circles using a pastry cutter (a 7 cm cutter is about right but one a little smaller would be fine, too). Cut out a hole in the centre of each circle of dough. I’ve tried different ways of doing this and I think using an apple corer is easiest. Place on a greased or non-stick baking tray and bake in the oven for around 15 minutes until the biscuits have puffed up and are a light golden colour.

While the biscuits are in the oven, make the icing. Make a syrup by placing the icing sugar and water in a saucepan and bringing to the boil, stirring to make sure that the sugar dissolves. At the same time, whisk the egg white to the firm peak stage. Boil the syrup for around 3 minutes until it begins to thicken noticeably. Take the syrup off the heat, immediately stir in the lemon juice and then pour the lemony syrup onto the egg white in a steady stream while continuing to whisk. The icing should remain relatively firm but not too stiff.

Once the biscuits are baked, remove from the oven and allow to cool for a minute or two. Turn the oven down to it’s lowest setting – if your oven is anything like mine, that’s around 50°C. To coat the biscuit, I've been told that the truly traditional (if rather messy) method is to dip the entire biscuit into the icing but most of the examples I've seen clearly don’t do that. It’s easier to leave the biscuits on their baking tray and to brush them generously with the icing (a silicone brush seems to be the best thing for the job). Once all the biscuits are coated, return them to the cool oven to dry out for around 1 – 2 hours. (Depending on the type of oven you have, you might find that leaving the oven door a little ajar will be helpful.) Allow the rousquilles to cool completely before serving.
Collioure
The destination for this month's Bloggers Around The World challenge hosted by Chris over at Cooking Around The World just happens to be France and so I can't resist entering this little treat even if it does slightly blur the border with Spain.



20 comments:

  1. These look familiar and sound delicious Phil. The hard boiled egg bit is interesting. So does Collioure...especially on a grey day like today. Lovely challenge.
    deb

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  2. I'm glad, you couldn't resist. These are lovely biscuits. Maybe I get a Mediterranean feeling when I try them.

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  3. Wish I had known about these a week ago when passing through Collioure - I would have looked out for them. Now I just have to use your lovely recipe I guess..

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  4. A wonderful recipe and I do love those little Basque style biscuits, a great entry to cooking around the world with Chris too.....must get my skates on for that challenge......so many enter! Karen

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  5. They sound delicious if a bit long winded. Have made a note of them thanks. Keep well Diane

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    1. I have to agree that these are a bit long winded - normally I don't have the patience for long-winded recipes but I really wanted to make these. That's the power of memory and nostalgia for good times, I suppose. Well, added to the fact that they taste really good.

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  6. This looks lovely, I haven't had this before. Another one of your recipe I'll have to try. Have a lovely rest of the week : )

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  7. These a new to me, they look lovely. And I especially love that they are inspired by your travels too.

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  8. Oh Phil, more French delicacies from you - when oh when are you going to right that book? I'll be first in the queue I promise.

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    1. Lovely of you to say so, Choclette, but I have a feeling that you might be the only one in the queue. I'm currently playing around with some recipes from more northerly parts of France so there should be some more baked French treats to come.

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  9. Oooo these look scrumptious!! I've never tried them, but I must give them a go. And I'm all up for the Banyuls, I haven't had any in forever.

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  10. We have some friends who live (for part of each year) up in the hills not far from Collioure. We went there when we visited them two years ago. It really is a magical place and your biscuits look magical too.

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  11. Another yummy treat - loved the sound of orange blossom water and aniseed in it; it is a winner for me!:)

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  12. Congratulations on the big three Phil. Your blog has a way of making me smile, laugh, chuckle and bring back English memories all at once, even when you're posting French recipes. I love the idea of these biscuits, and I think they may be making their way on to my Christmas baking list this year.

    PS - Add me to your cookbook anticipation brigade crew too (waves to Choclette!)

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  13. These look rather sweet and I must say your descriptions are making me really feel the need for a holiday. A wee break from the cold, dark, drizzle and the hectic rushing around would be perfect.

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    1. There has been a fair bit of cold, dark and drizzle lately - a little bit of South of France would do us all good I reckon. I have been reminded, though, that the waiter who served the grand crème while the Med lapped gently on the shore was one of the grumpiest waiters I've ever come across and, believe me, I've come across plenty of grumpy waiters.

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  14. Happy blog birthday! Delicious looking biscuits to celebrate with too :)

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  15. Happy blogoday, I am sure there is a proper term but just can't recall it. I am sprinpading your rousquilles will definitely bake this soon. Oh and by the way, I am right being Judith in the queue and if you need any testing/tasting, co-authoring, editing just ask.

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  16. Happy blogiversary! These sound like a wonderful sweet treat for a hot cup of coffee - the orange blossom, honey, aniseed and vanilla make a very 'cosy' yet refreshing flavour combo, yum!

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  17. I know these as 'rosquillas' and used to eat them a lot in Spain. I have never come across a recipe before so thank you. I look firmware to trying then out.

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