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Photo by Jackie Alpers

Joel and I spoke with a fun cookbook author, blogger, and award-winning food photographer, Jackie Alpers.  Jackie moved from Ohio to Tuscon, Arizona.  All her recipes are inspired by the rich culture of Southern Arizona in her cookbook Taste of Tuscon.

Portrait of Taste of Tucson author Jackie Alpers at her home in Tucson, Arizona.

Her book has over 70 recipes that’ll add a bit of spice to your holiday meals this season.  She loved the “little weenies in a can” that grew up eating while living in Ohio and wrote a recipe called Beanie Weenie Tacos.

As the holiday season is upon us, I thought it would be fun for Jackie to share this dessert that may become a tradition for your table in the years to come. 

Papel Picado
(Crunchy Tortilla Snowflakes)

Papel picado means “perforated paper,” and it’s a popular folk-art craft in Tucson and Mexico. This edible version will brighten any winter holiday table. This is probably the only time I will recommend using those super-soft, fluffy, white, supermarket tortillas. Use fine-pointed scissors and the softest, freshest tortillas you can find so that they fold easily without cracking. Serve these as a dessert or appetizer, either alone or with crème fraiche for dipping.

8 (6-inch) extra-fluffy flour tortillas
Olive oil spray or 2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons colored sanding sugar, such as turquoise blue
2 tablespoons sprinkles, such as white jimmies, snowflake quins, or multicolored nonpareils
1 tablespoon coarse salt flakes, such as Maldon
½ cup crème fraiche, for serving (optional)

Position your oven racks in the top and bottom thirds of the oven and preheat to 325°F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicone sheet liner.

Fold each tortilla in half, then in half again, and then in half a third time to make a roughly triangular shape. Using fine-pointed scissors, cut away small triangles or semicircles from the tortilla layers. Cut off a small piece from the tip, too, if you want a hole in the very center. Carefully unfold the tortillas—they will resemble large snowflakes—place them flat on the baking sheets, and spray or brush with olive oil.

Decorate the “snowflakes” to your liking with sanding sugar, sprinkles, and coarse salt. Bake until slightly golden around the edges, 8 to 10 minutes, switching and rotating the baking sheets halfway through. Serve with crème fraiche.

Listen to the full interview here: