Jan 27th, 2005
Okay, well upon reflection I think I messed these up by using the wrong cheese. The rolls were still tasty, but now I'm super curious to find out what they were supposed to taste like! The recipe calls for queso blanco, which I couldn't find at my neighborhood grocery, so I used queso fresca instead figuring they were close enough. But now I read that queso blanco is a rubbery, melty cheese like mozzarella or paneer, while queso fresca is a crumbly cheese that you often see dusted over refried beans in Mexico. So, my rolls came out a bit on the dry crumbly side and now I think I know why! Oh well, I'll try this recipe again when I can track down some queso blanco.
The recipe comes from Norman van Aken's New World Kitchen, and he claims that the original recipe for these rolls, and their Arabic name, dates back to when the Moors occupied Spain. Then the recipe was carried to the New World via the Conquistadores, and the rolls are now a Columbian specialty eaten on special occasions with hot chocolate.
He also says the best way to eat them is right out of the oven with some butter or orange marmalade. I would not disagree.
Almojabanas (Cheese Corn Rolls)2 cups corn kernels (from 2 to 3 ears)
1 1/4 pounds queso blanco, grated
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1 tbsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
3 tbsp unsalted butter, diced, softened
2 egg yolks
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
One 12-ounce package potato starch (also called potato flour; look in the kosher food or baking section of your grocery store) [I found mine in the Japanese section - KC]
In a food processor, combine the corn, cheeses, sugar, salt, butter, and egg yolks and rocess until the mixture resembles creamy scrambled eggs [I did this part by hand].
Transfer to a large bowl. Add the baking powder to the potato starch, then fold them into the batter until incorporated and free of any lumps. Cover the dough with a damp towel and let rest for 15 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease two baking sheets.
Pull off large pieces of dough and roll into balls 1 1/2 inches in diameter (grease your hands with butter to prevent sticking if necessary). Arrange the balls about 1 inch apart on the baking sheets.
Bake for 35 minutes, or until puffed and golden.
-Norman Van Aken, New World Kitchen