spiced bites, a special dedication
December 8, 2011 § 4 Comments
Oh boy, these are so addictive.
Christmas is coming and I believe at some point, everyone has their own traditional cookie. What does Santa like most? What did we make the year he gave me my favorite toy? Was I good or was the snack simply too irresistible? Growing up in the tropical country, Santa was not close to being real. Not at all. But we still celebrated Christmas for the joy of it.
It was not until after I moved out that I realized how everyone around the world had their special treats. My Flemish roommate brought Speculoos (a shortcrust biscuit shaped in many adorable-toy-like forms) for St Nicholas. I was so hooked, she told her mother to ship additional boxes to the flat. Though the buttery flavor gave a warm texture, it was the spices that made them so delicious. The fragrant spices used were cloves, nutmeg, ginger, cardamon, and of course, cinnamon. They nourished the holiday spirit and left a lingering taste yearning for more.
D, from Lithuania, adore chai tea. She made it so many times for me, I can never forget how she opened the cupboard, stretched her hand out towards the light brown paper bag which had a small stash of chai leaves/spices from India. As she simmered them in a medium pot, we talked about her travels in India and Angola. How she picked up Portuguese, found compassion in creating world peace and became vegetarian. When it was ready, she gently sifted the leaves and poured it in two green porcelain cups.
Gradually, whenever I could find all the spices in a pantry, I would invent something with them. So when I had some staled bread on the counter, I threw them together and made Spiced Bites. Sweet croutons, if you want a simple definition. I just like the tongue twisting articulation of it.
Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare a silpat or a greased baking tray with parchment paper. In a big mixing bowl, toss bread crumbs with olive oil. In a small mixing bowl, mix sugar and spices until well mixed. Brown sugar like to be in chucks so make sure they are almost like sand when mixed. Sprinkle the spiced sugar over the croutons and toss the bread again. Spread the croutons on the prepared tray and bake for about 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.
*What kind of bread? Any would do so. But the amount varies if pieces are smaller/bigger. As gifts, sliced them into pretty cubes. I used rye bread in the pictures above.
They last for a good week in an air-tighted jar.
While baking these, I thought of the days D and I spent talking about aspirations, movies, places yet to be discovered and unfound love. A fews years later, she finally found her love and the special date has been set. Here is to you my dear friend, lots of happy tears, endless smiles and sunny days ahead. We will see each other soon. There will just be tea for two, me and you, alone, like old times.