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Calories? Nobody counts calories on Easter

Published Friday, March 26, 2021

By Melissa Pette

We continue to dedicate this column to the good folk Tico recipes on Easter. For many Ticos, if on Holy Week there are no "Chiverre empanadas" and "Tico Arroz con Leche" (rice pudding), on the table it is like there is no Semana Santa.

These two sweets are very traditional during the Easter season here in Costa Rica.

So, let's forget about counting calories for a few days and let's go to the kitchen.

If you have recently come to Costa Rica, I advise you to go to a coffee shop and try one (or more) Chiverre empanada, which is a type of fried pastry filled with squash marmalade. I promise you won't regret it!.

Tico Empanadas

To cook 10 to 12 empanadas the ingredients you will need are:

First, for the Chiverre marmalade.

• 2 kilos of Chiverre.

• 2 sweet fig leaves.

• 4 sweet figs.

• 1 tapa de dulce.

Tapa Dulce is a kind of giant candy made of sugar cane. Buy it at the local fruit market in your community or any supermarket. Take a look at the photo.

• 2 teaspoons of dried cloves.

• 2 teaspoons of vanilla.

The slightly more complicated part is cooking the Chiverre jam, you can skip this part and buy the Chiverre jam at the supermarket.

For the empanadas, you will need:

• 2 cups of flour.

• 125 milliliters of sweet cream (half a glass).

• 250 grams of butter.

• 1 teaspoon of white sugar.

• A pinch of salt.

• An egg yolk.

Jam first. With a hammer (yep, a hammer) gently hit the entire Chiverre shell. Cut the peel from the shell with a knife. Insert the knife tip 2 millimeters into the Chiverre peel it out.

Cut the Chiverre pulp into wedges and with your hands, remove the seeds and the yellow fibers into the pulp. Smash all the pulp with the hammer, until you get a softer pulp.

Put the pulp in a colander, wash it until the sticky liquid is withdrawn.

Put the Chiverre in a cloth bag and place it in the washing machine's tumble dryer (yes, you read that correctly, the tumble dryer of your washing machine) for 5 minutes to dry.

Place the figs with their leaves in a large pot, add the recent tumble dry Chiverre and add the Tapa Dulce.

Cook until Tapa Dulce has completely melted and the Chiverre pulp has a dark golden color. Put the pot in a fresh place until it cools down.

Wrap the dried cloves in aluminum foil and crush them with a mortar or rolling pin.

When the Chiverre jam is cold, remove the fig leaves and add the crushed dried cloves and vanilla.

The empanadas. Mix all the ingredients (flour, sweet cream, butter, sugar and a pinch of salt), knead the mixture until creating a springy and elastic dough. Then, rest the dough for 20 minutes in the fridge (no freezer.)

Then on a very clean table, sprinkle flour and roll out the dough with your rolling pin. When it is less than 1 centimeter thick, use a small round plate to form circles over the dough. Cut the circles.

On one side of the circle add the Chiverre jam. Close the circle (from side to side) to form the patties. Press gently the empanada edge with a fork.

Beat the egg yolk, and with a kitchen brush or a fork, varnish the empanada surface.

Bake for 25 minutes at 200 degrees Fahrenheit and Holy Cow your empanada is ready! Enjoy the sweet and delicious homemade empanada with your social bubble.

If you have lazy kids at home (like me), this is a fun activity for them to also learn to cook homemade empanadas.

Now, we cannot forget the famous and creamy Tico Arroz con Leche on the table.

In June, our new friend Olivia Williams, a U.S. resident from Tres Ríos District shared this delicious dessert recipe with us.

Milky Rice

By Olivia Williams

Rice pudding is the traditional dessert of homes throughout Costa Rica. It is very easy to make, and with few ingredients. By following the proper technique, we will also make it much creamier. For this, the quantities and their proportions are important.

To prepare this popular homemade rice pudding, we will need:
• 100 grams of cooked white rice.

• 1 liter of milk.

• 1 lemon peel.

• 1 orange peel.

• 2 teaspoons of cinnamon.

• 70 grams of white sugar.

• 10 grams of butter.

In a pot, add the milk, rice, citrus peels and 1 tablespoon of cinnamon. Cook on medium heat. Mix continuously.

When it is hot, but not boiling yet (remember that milk above 95-100 degrees Celsius is over-burned), turn down the temperature to the lowest (not turned off).

Mix every five minutes to make sure that the rice pudding doesn't stick. This will make the dessert creamier.

After 30 minutes, when the rice grain is almost cooked, add the sugar. Cook for 10 more minutes until the rice is soft.

Turn off the heat, remove the lemon and orange peels, and add the butter. Keep mixing from time to time until the rice cools.

Sprinkle a little cinnamon powder on top. Milky rice pudding is easy, cheap and delicious.

Thank you so much to all readers, especially to those who shared their recipes with all of us. Stay safe during this Holy Week. And don't forget to share your recipes and photos by emailing

Pura Vida and Salud!

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