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Rosquillas, the Nicaraguan Cookie

Every week I make the trip from Lake Apanas to Jinotega in northern Nicaragua to pick up my fix of cookies.

Like Italian biscotti, the Nicaraguan rosquilla is designed to be accompanied by a hot cup of java. Its ping-pong sized plump shape facilitates an easy drop, and a well-made rosquilla is best eaten after floating in your coffee for 30 seconds or so. A crunchy, coffee-soaked rosquilla is pure pleasure on a cool Jinotegan morning.

While Somoto and Rivas are also known to make rosquillas, Jinotegan rosquillas are renowned for their thickness and crunch-quality. Fired in a brick oven, rosquillas continue the tradition of a distinct indigenous process and are made through the traditional craft of blending corn, cheese and lard, a hint of sweetness, and a process that ensures ideal porosity.

Approximately half a ton of rosquillas from Jinotega travel to ExpoNica in Miami each year, from the Rosquillera Pampa, owned by Aldo and Nelly Castillo. Probably three times that amount travel to the States and Europe via Nicaraguan travelers, stuffed in two- and three-pound bags, and stashed in luggage for distribution to expat family members.

The Panaderia Egda and a handful of other bakeries work daily, employing six to 10 bakers to meet the demand for rosquillas and other cake and cookie-like sweets throughout the region. The Jinotega-unique Empanado con Pupusa is a slightly larger, softer, sweeter version of the rosquilla. It also makes a great coffee or tea dipper, and is best tried hot and fresh from the bakery.

The Pampa and the Egda are easy stops on the way into Jinotega. Both are located on the south side of the block after the Texaco station. If you want your rosquillas piping hot from the oven, schedule your pick-up for noon on Monday and Thursday (La Pampa), or Wednesday and Saturday (La Egda). Otherwise, rosquillas from other bakeries can be found in every pulperia along your travels in Jinotega.

Suzanne Wopperer
For International Living

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