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Turrón de Doña Pepa - Anis Cookie Bar with Candy Syrup

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Turrón de Doña Pepa - Anis Cookie Bar with Candy Syrup

Turron de Dona Pepa

Marian Blazes

In Peru the month of October is known as el Mes Morado, or the purple month, in honor of el Señor de los Milagros (lord of miracles).

Turron de Doña Pepa is a sweet, sticky anise-flavored treat. Like fruitcake, it's a bit of an acquired taste for some, and it's so much better homemade. It's fun to make - it's like playing with lincoln logs. The anise cookie sticks are layered, then soaked in a delicious brown sugar syrup, traditionally made with chancaca (I substitute brown sugar and molasses).

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons anise seeds
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
  • 4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon anise extract
  • 1 apple
  • 1 lime
  • 1 orange
  • 7 ounce bag of prunes
  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 teaspoons cloves
  • 1 teaspoon whole allspice (optional)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon molasses

Preparation:

  1. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with 2 pieces of overlapped wax paper. Leave extra paper hanging over the edges of the pan.

  2. Add 1 tablespoon of anise seeds to 1/2 cup water and bring to a boil. Boil for 1 minute, then remove from heat and let cool.

  3. Toast the rest of the anise seeds and the sesame seeds at 300 degrees until golden and fragrant.

  4. Place the flour, salt, sesame seeds, anis seeds, sugar, and baking powder in the bowl of a food processor. Add the cold butter and vegetable shortening, and process briefly, until sandy in texture.

  5. Add the egg yolks, vanilla, and anise extract and process briefly.

  6. Add the anise seeds and water (cooled) one tablespoon at a time, until mixture comes together into a dough.

  7. Wrap dough in saran wrap and chill for 1 hour.

  8. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

  9. On a floured surface, roll out half of the chilled dough to 1/2 inch thickness. Trim the dough into a 8.5 inch x 8.5 inch square.

  10. Cut square lengthwise into 1/2 inch wide strips, and place them on a baking sheet. Repeat with other half of dough.

  11. Reroll scraps and cut into similar strips until you have used all of the dough.

  12. Bake cookie strips for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool.

  13. Make the syrup: In a pot, add 3 1/2 cups of water. Cut the apple, lime, and the orange into quarters and add to the pot. Add the prunes, the cinnamon sticks, salt, cloves, and allspice.

  14. Bring water to a boil, then lower heat and simmer, covered, for about 20 minutes, or until the apple is soft and translucent.

  15. While the fruit is simmering, assemble the cookies in the pan. Cover the bottom of the pan (lined with wax paper) with cookie strips layed side by side. Crumble one cookie strip and use the crumbs to fill in any holes between the strips.

  16. Make another layer of cookie strips on top of the first layer, but lay them down crosswise to the first one. Fill in any holes with crumbs. Repeat until all the strips are used, stopping with a complete top layer.

  17. When the apples are cooked and translucent, remove fruit and water from heat. Strain mixture into a colander, over a clean pot. Discard fruit and spices.

  18. Add sugar, brown sugar, and molasses to the strained liquid, and bring to a boil. Boil until mixture reaches 240 degrees Fahrenheit. Syrup will form a thin thread when twirled from a spoon. Let syrup cool for 3-5 minutes.

  19. Working carefully, pour hot syrup slowly over the cookies, letting it soak into all the nooks and crannies. Cover top generously with candy sprinkles. Let rest for several hours, until completely cool.

  20. Lift wax paper to remove turrón from the pan. Slice turrón into desired pieces. Turrón will keep for several weeks in an airtight container.
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