I thought I’d make a Spanish treat for you all today. These are puff pastry bow ties (otherwise known as corbatas de hojaldre). They’re just strips of puff pastry that have been twisted, glazed and decorated with chopped nuts. They’re very simple to make and they go really well with a cup of coffee or tea.
Treats made from puff pastry are extremely popular here in Spain. They come in all shapes and sizes from tarts to croissants to palmiers and twists like these. In the old days the convents supported their community of nuns by selling confections. There are (at least) two convents in Valladolid that sell all kinds of sweets. When you walk into their shop, there’s a sign listing what’s available and the prices. Sometimes you’ll talk to the nun through a window and the transaction takes place much like a drive thru window with the money put into a turnstile and the goodies returned the same way.
Naturally, two convents of aging nuns could hardly hope to keep up with the Spanish love of little treats so there are commercial shops, called reposterías, all over the place plus inside the grocery stores. Some of them are well known for a particular treat and others are more generalists. It’s not unusual to see people walking down the street with a box or a wrapped tray tied with string, especially on Saturday morning.
To make these you’ll want a standard puff pastry dough. It can be fresh or frozen, although of course you’ll want to thaw the frozen dough.
For the glaze, the recipes I’ve come across use a glaze made with egg whites and powdered sugar, similar to Royal Icing. This is generously applied and then topped with chopped nuts; usually almonds. In some recipes the glaze is made from egg yolks which give a pretty color.
Different towns (or convents) had different styles of making the bow ties. They could be twisted in the middle to look like a standard bow or on one end to resemble a neck tie. Some put the glaze all over, others just on the ends. Still others just dust with powdered sugar. Chopped almonds seem to be the traditional topping; I don’t think anyone will care if you use another type of nut…or none at all.
We’re going to make Corbatas de Unquera from a town in Cantabria in the North of Spain that’s on the Camino del Norte. You can imagine thousands of pilgrims eating corbatas with their morning coffee before hiking along the coast of the Cantabrian sea.
I found several recipes online, but this one from CocinandoConMaria gives a little background for these particular puff pastry bow ties.
- 1 package puff pastry dough, thawed
- 1 egg white
- 1 cup powdered sugar (not packed)
- juice and zest of half a lemon
- chopped almonds (I used about ¼ cup)
- Preheat the oven to 375F/190C and prepare 1 - 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicon mat.
- Make the glaze by mixing the lemon zest with the powdered sugar, then adding the egg white and a teaspoon of lemon juice. If too dry, add a little more lemon juice (you probably won't need all of the juice unless it was a stingy lemon). Mix until smooth.
- Unroll the puff pastry and use a sharp knife (a pizza cutter works, too) to cut the sheet in half, then cut each half into 8 strips about the same width for a total of 16.
- Twist the strips in the middle to make bow ties, or just twist one end for a long tie. Arrange on the baking sheet without crowding. Use a second baking sheet or make more than one batch as necessary.
- Brush the ends of the bows and the lengths of the ties with the glaze and sprinkle on the chopped nuts.
- Bake for 10 - 12 minutes (or as directed on the package). The pastry should be golden brown and puffy.
- Carefully transfer to a rack to cool.
You will have more than enough glaze for two batches of puff pastry bow ties. Normally you get two sheets of pastry in a pack, so it all works out.
Alternatives for those looking for a vegan treat: You can either use an egg white substitute to make the glaze, or wait until after the baking and glaze with a mix of powdered sugar and lemon juice. Also, be sure to check the ingredients for the puff pastry. In Spain they’re normally made with butter or lard. You have to go to a specialty shop to find a vegan dough.