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Home Vacation During the vacation of a lifetime in Curacao, the fruitcake cookie is a delectable discovery | Arts and Culture

During the vacation of a lifetime in Curacao, the fruitcake cookie is a delectable discovery | Arts and Culture

by Staff

A week ago, I returned from the vacation of a lifetime — 10 days on the beautiful island of Curacao — with my friend, Sue, and her husband, Mike. The island lies about 837 miles north of the equator — sitting between its sister islands, Aruba to the west and Bonaire to the east — about 40 miles off the coast of Venezuela.







Curacao sign

Food columnist Margaret Button recently spent 10 days in Curacao, sightseeing and discovering tasty treats like the fruitcake cookie.




Discovered by Spain in 1499, it was then sold to The Netherlands. Since 2010, it has been an autonomous country — still part of the Dutch Kingdom, but with a significant degree of self-governance, making independent decisions about its internal affairs.

The island, roughly 172 square miles, has a population of 160,000, most of whom live in the southwestern part of the island, clustered around the capital city of Willemstad. The city is a blend of its Dutch heritage, amazing architecture and a literal explosion of colors.

We visited Willemstad several times — Mike and Sue placing a padlock celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary on the Punda Love Heart; walking the Queen Emma Bridge, a pedestrian footbridge on pontoons that swings open to let ships into the inner harbor; looking at the amazing street art that abounds in the city; shopping in the quaint shops; and posing for photos near the iconic “Curacao” sign. We walked through the Floating Market, where boats from Venezuela bring fruits and vegetables — so many we had never seen before — and locals sell fresh fish and crafts. We ate at two restaurants in Rif Fort, a historic stone fort that once guarded the harbor. The views of the harbor were breathtaking — and at one of the restaurants, our food was served out of pirates’ treasure chests and adorned with pearls.

There were excursions to the northern part of the island, with its stark desert, many caves and rocky coast with blowholes. We saw cacti and unfamiliar birds, fed lizards out of our hands and got to touch a wild iguana — not to mention swimming with sea turtles and dolphins.

At our resort, there were five restaurants, many poolside bars and a coffee cafe. It also had cookies offered daily in the lobby — along with a planter’s punch — and in the coffee cafe, the first cookies we encountered were fruitcake cookies — so good! They were my reward at 6 a.m. on my days to stake out beach lounges. I tried to get the recipe — and failed miserably. I found this recipe on the internet and it sounds identical.

FRUITCAKE COOKIES

(Courtesy of stephiecooks.com)

Servings: 60 cookies

INGREDIENTS

1 pound chopped candied fruit

1 1/2 cups flour, divided

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened

1/2 cup brown sugar, well packed

2 large eggs

1 1/2 tablespoons milk

1/2 cup unfiltered apple juice (you may substitute orange juice)

3 cups chopped pecans

6 ounces white raisins, about 1 1/4 cups

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 325 F. Line sheet pans with parchment paper; set aside.

In a medium bowl, stir together the chopped candied fruit with a few tablespoons of flour. This will prevent the fruit from sticking together later. Set aside.

Whisk together the spices, remaining flour and baking soda. Set aside.

Cream together butter and sugar. Add eggs, one at a time, then milk and juice. Add the dry ingredients, then fold in the nuts, floured fruit and raisins. The dough will almost seem more like a cake batter than a cookie dough in consistency — that is OK, it’s how it is supposed to be.

Drop by spoonfuls about 1-inch apart (cookies will not spread much at all) on the prepared cookie sheets. If your spoonfuls are particularly rounded, pat them down slightly with a spatula. Bake for about 18 to 20 minutes or until golden. Allow to cool for 2 minutes on the cookie sheets before transferring to a rack to cool completely.

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