Sunday, May 2, 2010

103 ~ Quesadillas - Mini Cheesecakes from El Hierro

Quesadilla from El Hierro

Quesadillas, or mini-cheesecakes are traditionally made by one family on the island of El Hierro, one of the smallest and most western of the Canary Islands. In early times El Hierro was thought to be the end of the western world, before the Azores were discovered. In the year 2000 it was named by Unesco as a Biosphere Reserve.

quesadilla cut openCut view showing texture and anise grains

Although the term quesadilla is used in Mexican cooking to refer to a cheese filled tortilla, (queso meaning cheese in Spanish,) the quesadillas of El Hierro are small, sweet individual cheesecakes, each one measuring around 10 centimeters (4 inches) across. They have been the specialty of one family, Adrián Gutiérrez e Hijas, made in their bakery using the recipe and method passed down by grandparents since 1900 where the quesadillas, in their distinctive daisy-shaped moulds, were cooked in wood burning ovens.

The above two photos credited with thanks to La Ruta del Buen Yantar

Here is a recipe for making quesadillas at home. They are made in individual molds which originally were lined with a thin puff pastry, but now commercially they are sold with a thin muffin-type paper backing.


1 kilo (2.2 lbs) unsalted fresh cheese
250 grams flour
500 grams sugar
4 egg yolks
3 egg whites
1 TBS honey
pinch of cinnamon
pinch of salt
1 TBS anise grains
grated rind of 1 lemon

Mix all well to form a mass, then put into moulds, either buttered or lined with paper inserts. Originally quesadillas were put in moulds lined with a very thin layer of puff pastry.

Cook in 375F (190C) oven until golden.

The fresh cheese on El Hierro is made from a mixture of 85% goat milk, 10% cow milk and 5% sheep milk.

Thank you for dropping by.

Have a good week and hasta la vista!


nimenos said...

Me encantan, es uno de mis productos canarios favoritos. Siempre le pido a mi madre que me traiga quesadillas cuando va a Tenerife..... Ahora sí, son un "poco" calóricas.....


PD. me vas a tener todo el día pensando en quesadillas.....

Canarybird said...

Nimenos.....yo tambien estaba pensando en quesadillas desde he empezado a tomar estos fotos. I've been thinking of them too since I saw them in a market here and had to bring them home and write about them....and taste them while doing that! :-) I have a friend from El Hierro who talks about them often.

Jo said...

Oh, Sharon, thank you...!!!

Omigoodness, I heard a voice saying, "Ohhhhhh....." and I realized it was me...!

Guess what I'm going to make this weekend!

Anonymous said...

How pretty they are!

I wonder what an American equivalent of the cheese would be?

Daricia said...

You make me miss the canaries! I will probably be thinking of those until I make them. I'm glad you added the recipe.

Ashleigh said...

Omigosh!!!! Those look amazing!!!

Canarybird said...

Yes they are quite good and I have to avoid seeing them when I go to the supermarket. :-)

Renee I imagine you could use any soft fresh white cheese, especially if it's a goat cheese. I will add a photo of the type of fresh cheese that is similar to the one from El Hierro.

Jo and Daricia...if you do make them, please come back here and tell us how they turned out. I'm short of time these days so can't make them myself until I have a breather day or two.'s always possible someone is making them or bringing them in to Madrid.

Thanks for your visits!


Meriva said...

Thank you for this recipe. We sailed to El Hierro and spent two months on the island. I love the quesadillas and El Hierro honey....amongst many other wonderful things about this beautiful island



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