Have you ever been called a chumbeque? If you have, then it was probably by a Peruvian like me who is obsessed with desserts, pastries, syrups, cookies, and cakes that date back to the time of the Spanish Viceroyalty. We grow up with them, fall in love with them, and celebrate every occasion with them. We even use them as a term of affection: “you are a chumbeque!” — not literally, of course, otherwise you’d be a shortbread cookie sandwich coated in a sticky anise flavored syrup, and I would be eating you morning noon, and night.
It’s believed that the word chumbeque comes from the Mochica, a pre-Inca culture in northern Peru. And inspired by the recipe in Sandra Plevisani’s El Gran Libro del Postre Peruano, I modified some of the ingredients and measurements in order to create individual cookie sandwiches that have the flavor and characteristics of a simple turron. If you take the time to bake them, coat them in syrup, let them cool, and share them with friends, don’t be surprised if all of a sudden they start calling you a chumbeque. It just means you did something really sweet.
INGREDIENTS FOR THE DOUGH
- 4 cups flour
- 1 tablespoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons sesame seeds
- 1 1/4 cups vegetable shortening
- 6 egg yolks
- 3/4 cup water
INGREDIENTS FOR THE SYRUP
- 3 cups sugar
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 4 limes
- 2 teaspoons anise seeds
In addition to the ingredients above, you’ll need a large bowl to mix the dough, a working surface to roll the dough, baking sheets lined with Silpat, and a saucepan to make the syrup.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Sift the flour, salt, and baking soda into a large bowl. Add the vegetable shortening and egg yolks and mix well.
- Add about 3/4 cups of water, 1/4 cup at a time, while shaping the dough. If needed, add 1-2 additional tablespoons of water.
- Cut the dough into two equal parts, and on a floured working surface roll each part into a flat rectangle that is about 1/4″ thick.
- Place each rectangular piece of dough on a baking sheet lined with Silpat and cut the dough into small rectangles about 2″x3″.
- Bake until the dough has moderate firmness and a light golden color, about 25 minutes. Let cool.
- Add the sugar, juice of 4 limes, cinnamon stick, and anise seeds to a saucepan over medium heat.
- Stir until a thick reddish syrup is formed, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat but use immediately.
- Place the cookies on a working surface lined with wax or parchment paper.
- Coat the top of one cookie with a tablespoon of syrup and place another cookie on top to make a sandwich with the syrup in the middle. Coat the cookie that is now on top of the sandwich with another tablespoon of syrup and set aside. Repeat with the other cookies.
About 20 servings.
It’s important to coat the cookies while the syrup is still hot, but for that reason you need to be very careful and avoid touching the syrup with your hands. Be sure to place the cookies on a flat working surface and use a spoon to coat the cookies with syrup.