Enough for a Party: Cheap and Easy Cinnamon Crisps
We recently had an invitation to an evening gathering (Hi Karin!!!) where the food theme was Mexican, and I wanted to bring something along with the usual bottle of wine. I was thinking Mexican Wedding Cookies, but the budget was screaming, “NO PECANS!” and I was running short of time as it turned out to be one of those days. What to do?
I’m no expert at Mexican cooking, and consider myself just the typical Anglo having an occasional binge at the local Pepe’s. One thing I always liked, though, was those cinnamon-sugar dipped tortilla triangles served at the end of a meal. I looked up several recipes for them, and most of them required frying in a lot of oil. I love anything fried in a lot of oil, but It’s Not Good For Me, nor is deep-frying a technique I consider truly minimalist because of the mess and the finesse involved. Baking them, however, would be easier on my nerves and probably my digestive system.
Flour tortillas are cheap and readily available, so I picked up 3 packages of the burrito-sized ones, each package holding a dozen tortillas. Picked up a box of butter as well, as I wasn’t entirely certain how far a stick of melted butter would go when brushed on the tortillas. I already had sugar and cinnamon on hand.
Here’s a digression, of special importance as we go into the holidays: cinnamon is expensive, I know, but if you have a restaurant supply store nearby, check out their spice section and look for the great big 15-oz jars of cinnamon. If your supply place is like mine, you’ll discover the price to be a fraction of those precious little bottles in the grocery store and the product is just as good. Yes, I know there is cinnamon and then there is cinnamon, but if you want affordable spices that haven’t gone stale on the shelf, the restaurant supply store is a good place to start. This lets the budget-strapped indulge in things like cinnamon on oatmeal every day for the whole family, etc., of which even the very thought is enough to warm your innards ;D
Anyway, back to the crisps. After experimenting with a couple of batches, I can recommend the following proportions, and tell you that if you use a relay of at least two baking pans, it takes about 30 minutes to bake up 72 big tortilla crisps, which is a self-respecting quantity to bring to a party (and more never goes wrong):
1 dozen large flour tortillas, cut into 6 wedges, making 72 triangles
1 stick of butter, melted (I used salted butter)
Mixture of 6 Tb sugar and 1 Tb ground cinnamon–this may need to be doubled, depending on how heavily you sprinkle it on.
Here’s the assembly line I used: tortillas and big knife on cutting board, bowl of melted butter and pastry brush, bowl of cinnamon sugar with small wire strainer, and rimmed baking sheet. I preheated the oven to 400F.
Separate each individual tortilla triangle and set as many as you can in a single layer on the ungreased baking sheet. Lightly brush each triangle with butter, and lightly dust with cinnamon sugar (I scooped up some in a small tea strainer and gently shook it over the triangles). Turn over all the triangles and repeat the butter-brushing and cinnamon sugar-dusting on the other side. Bake at 400F for 6-7 minutes. Let cool for a couple of minutes, then remove to a bowl to cool to room temp, and wipe off the excess sugar mixture before reusing the pan. Here’s what mine looked like just before baking:
Ready to Rock
I had three baking sheets, so it was easy to bake a pan, make up another while the first baked, and then make up yet another while the second baked and the first pan was cooling, but it wouldn’t be much slower with two pans. One of the coolest things about this method is that the pans wiped clean after each batch–no washing needed, and since there wasn’t enough butter or baking time to caramelize anything, cleanup was a total cinch. The pace is nice and easy, and even if you did them shortly before going to a party, like I did, it won’t leave you all hot and tired and frazzled. For the same reason, this is a recipe children can help with and older kids can make on their own. Bonus: it makes the house smell wonderful, unlike deep-fat frying, so it’s a winner if you’re hosting the gathering, too!