Bartolillos are typical of the cuisine from Madrid but, surprisingly, they aren't very well known. Every day we can see people eating churros and, in May, chomping on the famous rosquillas de San Isidro. This pastry, though, deserves to be better known as well as more available.
It is said that bartolillos were brought to Spain by the Romans while others say that are a pastry with Arab roots. Others, and quite possibly the most reasonable explanation, say that they were originally made in one of the convents around Madrid. Regardless of the origin of this dish and the stories surrounding it, what most people want to know is if they are hard to make. Well, the answer is yes…and no. For your sake, our dear reader, we are going to talk about the latter…the easier of the two recipes.
The original recipe calls for a freshly made dough, but for our purposes we are going to recommend that you use pre-made pastry dough that can be easily found in any supermarket. You will also need 16 oz. (1/2 l) milk, a dash of vanilla extract, lemon rind to taste, cornstarch and two eggs (separated).
Without having to make dough, the difficulty of this recipe isn't very high. First we will take the milk (saving a little bit to the side), the vanilla and lemon rind and boil it in a saucepan. With the milk that we reserved, place it in a small mixing bowl where we will mix it with the egg yolks and cornstarch. Once the milk has boiled we will strain it and return it to the fire but on low heat this time. Now we will add in the cold milk that has been mixed with the egg and cornstarch. Continually move the mixture until it thickens while not producing lumps. When it has thickened a bit, remove from the fire and let the mixture cool.
Now we can prepare the dough. For this dish we must simply fry the dough quickly, but the cream that we have made must go inside the pastry in the shape that you desire (half moon, triangle, rectangle…). This presents us with a little dilemma since we have to place the cream inside the pastry. There are molds that you can buy to help you prepare the bartolillos, but we like this trick that you can do without having to resort to buying a mold. All you have to do is form the dough into a small cone, close it with a toothpick and fry it quickly. But remember, you must fry them with plenty of hot oil so that they cook quickly so they maintain their shape. Try practicing with a couple of cones (if you don't mind sacrificing a little dough) before cooking them for real.
When you have fried all of your cones, all you have to do is fill them with your pastry cream. Sprinkle the freshly made bartolillos with powdered sugar and that's it! A typical and filling Spanish pastry; ideal with a glass of chilled dessert wine like Pedro Ximenez.