That most sensual time of the year is upon on us. I relish in all things fall and winter. The layered clothes, the supple leather boots to keep my legs warm, the fuzzy sweaters to press up against those I’m hugging, the bare trees, the ambient colored leaves on the pavement, the smell of crackling wood and the endless comfort food. All those seasonal elements make me happiest. Few things shake me up and disallow a jovial spirit. There is a time during the 3 months where I feel really lonely, though. It could be a mire poix of reasons. My fix to that is connecting with what an online calls “imaginary friends” on the web. Strangers with no tangible connection to my world have a way of seeing through my feelings and offer something sweet. It always works. Aside from those superficial engagements, it never hurts to find refuge in cooking and baking foods you know everyone will love, but that you really enjoy indulging in.
After years of analyzing Christmas and its purpose in my life, I realize that it’s the most selfish holiday. It’s replete with self-indulgence, rapid movement to the next best thing and gluttonous desires. I’ve never come across a Christian family that deny’s the luring ads that come with celebrating Dec. 25th. My sis and I have been campaigning for a back to the basics celebration where we buy nothing material, open our home to those without family, share with those that don’t have and spend more family time together. In our house that means it all has to begin in the kitchen.
Though Mami and I are the only ones that really cook, Papi and sis are magnificent at certain things. Papi loves making robust meals with wines and fancy meats. Sis loves to bake. My brothers love to come over and eat. And so that’s how it goes. The single one thing we all agree on are the sweet delectables which are only enjoyed during this time. Mostly post Thanksgiving up until the epiphany on Jan. 6th. That line up of goodies that make us one big happy Cuban family are pastries we can only find in Miami or New Jersey. They’re so special we make a trip to La Gran Via bakery in Union City, NJ when we pickup and drop off our abuelita; yes, going and coming. I’ve shared that experience before. It’s delicious madness when ordering.
(Ivy growing on tree in Middleburg)
But what happens in between visits? Sometimes the mood just calls for something so decadent that a 3-hour drive North makes no sense. We already know that anything homemade is always better. Always. So, I took to making one of the those delectables myself for the duration of this season. The famed star in our casa: Capuchinos. Say with with me — Kah-Pu-Chee-Nos…Hands down the 2nd most delicious Cuban dessert you’ll ever dream of. And never forget.
I’ll say this before continuing, these little treats are deceiving. They look harmless and small enough to enjoy several. But, oh how devlish they are.
I took a lovely hour ride on my dad’s motorcycle on Saturday to Middleburg, one of our favorite towns in Virginia. The place just looks like Christmas. I’ve not been there any other time of the year which means my only understanding of it is a smell good, look good township. We snuck our heads in this hole in the wall bakery serving cookies, bars, snicker doodles and everything in between. Nothing custard-based, but all amazing dry yumminess. I bought $13 worth and tucked them away. Those nibbles inspired my mood to make capuchinos.
Normally, these delicate treats are cone shaped. I didn’t have the proper paper or time to mold them as such, so one variety I defer to is cupcake-shaped called “cabezotes” meaning “big heads.” And truthfully, I’m not even sure why they’re called capuchinos, not to be confused with the espresso drink, though the idea of adding a splash of my addiction into the mix gives me goosebumps.
The texture is spongey but ultra soft with the insane amount of a thick spiced syrup (very similar to the one I make for buñuelos) I saturate the cabezotes with. When I tell you these are pure heavenly, I tell no lie. I have to pace myself.
This dessert is made of pure eggs. A whole lot of eggs and little of few things else. It’s no wonder they’re divine. Julia Child would adore these. I could hear her now: “Oh, let’s just add 4 more egg yolks in there, why not!?” They’re classically Cuban and perfectly appropriate for now. You’re holiday offerings will be complete with a lovely platter serving these for your guests. Just make sure to have enough almibar to continue bathing the big heads in!
No one will be turn these down. That much I can guarantee. And if they do, well, they can go to the local bakery and just by cookies. I mean, really! I’m simply introducing you to something I grew up eating, love almost as much as flan (sometimes even more depending on the day) and am always delighted to make.
I may add these to my repertoire of baked goods to sell. I doubt the average person wants to spend 20 minutes beating eggs!
If only decadence didn’t come up with calories or cholesterol. In the interest of advocating and practicing a healthy lifestyle, I only make these during the holidays and counter the intensity with a lot of water and consistent workouts!