Friday, December 19, 2008

Jamoncillo de Nuevas

I am newly obsessed with jamoncillo de nuevas.

Two weeks ago in the depths of a Brooklyn chill, friends trooped across several boroughs to join us for huevos rancheros, spoon bread with various home made salsas and farm-made relishes, and beans and rice galore.

The inspiration for the Mexican theme was a recent issue of Saveur which featured sweets from Pueblo mainly focused on sweet potato, sugar, milk, some more sugar, and gorgeous crystallized fruits. In this sea of glowing pink hearts etched with Pueblo in white sugar and piles of tart-like sweet potato cookies there were flat expanses of jamoncillo. Milk fudge. With nuts and candied fruit.

I'm not one for candied fruit, so I stuck with just pecans and hoped for the best with the fudge. The milk and sugar took the full 35 minutes to caramelize and I doubted my candy thermometer most of the way until it began to smell like burning and I pulled it off before it hit 240 degrees.

5 minutes after waiting for the glossiness to subside, I stirred carefully with a wooden spoon and the hope that I had waited long enough to end up with fudge and not sauce.

I poured the searing liquid into the brownie pan and within minutes, I watched it harden. Shortly after, I picked out a corner and swooned - the canela was subtle enough to enhance the milk but not overpower with a cinnamon taste. The nuts were toasty and the fudge melted creamily.

The jamoncillo was a hit the next day. More so than the pepita brittle and polvorones (which were tougher than usual). As I think about my holiday baking, I'm tempted to bring these back for a second showing. Might go well with a box of salted chocolate caramels and spoon cookies.

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