If you were to ask me what my favorite thing about Colombia would be, I would have to say the food. This may surprise some of the people that know me because at the same time that I loved the food, I was unprepared for the monotony of the meals. Although I did struggle a little, there are so many different dishes that I loved, and crave regularly.
I especially recall going to the market with my suegra. The open market was my most favorite experience. As a light haired American, I was instantly barraged with people offering their produce. The little children were sent to me from three rows over to insist that they have the freshest arvejas (in fact I was stalked by a little boy offering peas my entire time in the market, oh how he insisted. I caved. I couldn’t help it - he was so cute.).
My Mother-in-Law with a watchful eye distanced herself from me and continued shopping like she normally would. I could not resist some of the most enticing fruit I have ever seen in my life. Granadillas, platano, and maracuya were all piled up and waiting. I bought a few things for myself, and rejoined Maria. She had managed to haggle and dicker until she had a large sack full of mangos, vegetables, and squash. The total: about $12.
When spring hits North America, I always think about this. When all the fresh berries come on in April I buy! I can’t help it! It’s like the confines of winter are shaken off the moment I bite into the first Strawberry of the year. And my Husband asks for un Brazo de Reina. I think it’s called the Queens Arm because she was so fat.
Here is a recipe for you:
4 eggs, separated
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon almond extract
3/4 cup sifted cake flour
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
Confectioners' sugar for garnish
Heat the oven to 400 degrees F. Grease a 10 x 15-inch jellyroll pan and line it with parchment paper, then grease the paper lining. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat egg yolks for about 1 minute until they lighten to a light lemony color. While beating yolks, add sugar slowly and beat until mixture is light and fluffy (1-2 minutes). Add almond extract.
**You can add orange extract with 1 teaspoon of orange zest in place of the almond if you prefer.
Sift together flour, salt, and baking powder and add dry ingredients to the batter.
In a separate bowl, beat egg whites until stiff; gently fold them into the batter. Pour batter into prepared jellyroll pan and spread to the edges.
Bake for 10 to 13 minutes, or until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Turn the cake over onto a towel that has been dusted with confectioners' sugar. Remove the pan and parchment paper. Roll the cake up into the towel and let cake cool for 10 – 20 minutes on a wire rack. If preparing the cake for the next day put the rack and towel-rolled cake into the refrigerator.
2 - 8 oz. packages of cream cheese.
1 Cup Un-whipped whipping cream
Sugar to taste
Fresh Berries -- for this recipe I used raspberries, blackberries (moras), and strawberries (fresas)
Cream the cream cheese slowly adding the un-whipped whipping cream to smooth. Add sugar until desired sweetness achieved.
**100% maple syrup can be used in place of sugar for a healthier option, though this adds a more North American touch to the Brazo de Reina.
Unroll cake; remove towel and spread the cream cheese filling on entire cake leaving an inch of space on the top. Sprinkle on unsweetened berries and roll up again. Top with whipped cream and extra berries.