13 April 2010

Sweet Shop: Golden Crown Panaderia

Pratt Morales and son Chris, Albuquerque, NM

I just had a story in the Minneapolis Star Tribune about New Mexico. If you'd like to read it, click on the below. (Sorry, I haven't figured out how to include a link here yet.)


In that piece, I included a couple paragraphs about the Golden Crown Panaderia in Albuquerque. Pratt Morales and son Chris run this Southwest bakery famous for its green chile bread (featured on the Food Network) and its anise-flavored biscochitos. I loved the bread but it was those flaky cookies that really got to my sweet tooth.

When you walk in here, the typical bakery scents of bread baking, cinnamon and sugar greet you --along with a friendly person behind the counter offering a free cookie--a biscochito. This is New Mexico's "official State Cookie". As I wrote in my article, you've got to love a state that elevates a cookie to such status. Personally, I'd love to have been at the meeting where it was discussed. "I move that we adopt the biscochito as our state cookie". "I second it." "All in flavor, I mean favor, say aye". And don't ya wonder--how it all started to begin with? Like, was some state worker sitting on break having a cup of coffee and a biscochito when it hit him or her (probably her)--dang, this cookie is GOOD. After another bite... this cookie is REALLY good. Then another worker comes in to the break room and she says to whoever just came in, "hey Joe, this cookie is flipping delicious. It's so good, it could be.... official!" and Joe (but probably it's a Mary) says, "give me some of that cookie and I'll tell you if it's any good," and then she tastes it and says, "Damn, I think you are right!Give me another one to make sure." Then after six or so more cookies, the two think... You know, we should make this REALLY official. Wouldn't it be cool to have an official... state cookie?" I suppose if I were really curious, I could easily find out how the whole thing came to be. But I kind of like my imagined scenario. At any rate, I loved the cookie so much I made them for the annual Christmas cookie exchange last year. (Recipe follows at end of post.)

But enough already about the cookie. The truth is, while visiting this bakery, I found Pratt and Chris(the father-son team who run this operation) to be as sweet as the cookies they bake. They invited me into their kitchen and let me watch them at work, shared memories and dreams, philosophy and baking tips, and of course, tastes. And it's easy to see that everything coming out of the ovens here gets a dose of TLC. These guys love what they're doing. I like the way Pratt explained it: "Passion is when you're supposed to be somewhere at 4, and you get there at 2."

Whether you get here at 2, 4, or 7 a.m., you're in for a real treat --and a free biscochito--when you stop in here. Don't miss it.

Chris on the patio of the Golden Crown Panaderia with pan of biscochitos. (You can also get a great cappuccino at the bakery--see below)

Biscochitos (recipe from the Santa Fe School of Cooking)
Makes 4-5 dozen
2 cups lard or vegetable shortening (I used Crisco)
1 ½ cups sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. toasted anise seeds
6 cups flour
3 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
½ cup brandy
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cream the lard or shortening (I used Crisco). Add sugar, eggs and anise seeds and cream again. Mix dry ingredients separately and combine with the shortening mixture. Add the brandy and mix thoroughly.
Roll the dough out on a floured surface and cut into desired shapes. Sprinkle the cookie shapes with sugar-cinnamon mixture. (1 cup sugar to 1 tsp. or more cinnamon) . Bake for 15 minutes or until lightly browned.