Laura Esquivels' first novel could have been a simple love story of two star crossed lovers. Instead, Tita and Pedro become characters in something that's part fable and part fantasy. Set in Mexico, and published in monthly instalments, the novel has a chapter for each month of the year.
Because so much in Tita's life in linked to the kitchen and the food she cooks, every chapter starts with a recipe. The dishes may look ordinary at first glance but their effect on the book's cast is nothing short of magical. With every passing month, the book's magic draws you to Mexico and its strange ancient traditions.
So much in the book is linked to weddings that I decided to bake Mexican wedding cookies in honor of the book.
Also called snowballs, these are really gorgeous cookies. The recipe comes straight from Lottie & Doof, although I replaced pecans with walnuts. As a quick recap, toast 1/2 cup walnuts and chill them. Measure out 1/3 cup icing sugar and use 2 tbsp of that to mix with walnuts. Grind the walnuts+sugar finely in a processor.
Beat 100 grams softened butter with the remaining sugar. Add 1/2 tsp vanilla essence and mix it in. Add the ground walnuts, mix well and then add a cup of plain flour. Mix everything until thoroughly combined. Roll into 1-inch balls, place on a baking sheet lined with parchment and bake in an oven preheated to 170C for 15-20 minutes (or until the cookies get to light golden).
Let cool completely, then sift icing sugar all over the cookies.
If you'd like to see more Mexican treats, head over to the book club for other members' take on the book.