Tinapay San Nicolas
“Sanicolas” / “Sanikolas” / “Sannikolas” / “Sannicolas” / Pandecillos de San Nicolas
The traditional pan de San Nicolas is a special cookie made of arrowroot and coconut milk. Molded with the image of Saint Nicholas in relief, it used to be distributed to parishioners after Mass at the feast of San Nicolás on December 6 and all through Christmastime. As St. Nicholas is a patron saint of children, the decorated wafers were then the only visual tie children had with the saint who was to evolve into the modern Santa Claus.
Until recent years, pan de San Nicolas survived as a special cookie baked in Pampango and Tagalog towns where it was known as minarka (marked). The design and motif have been described as a Filipino abstraction and stylization much like the rice cakes of Pakil, Laguna, embossed with the image of the Virgin of Turumba.
The hardwood mold of pan de San Nicolas, carved on both sides, measures about 24 x 16 centimeters. Like the wood molds of Vienna’s Kaisersemmel (the Emperor’s roll which bore his picture in relief), these are now prized collectors’ items, marvelous by themselves in being precisely carved but, more important, as relics from another age when there was time and the grace for niceties even in the most utilitarian items.
1/2 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup sugar
1-1/2 cups flour
1-1/2 cups cornstarch
3 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon baking powder
4 egg yolks
a few grains of anise
Sift together flour, cornstarch and baking powder.
Beat the egg yolks until thick and lemon colored. Add the sugar, then the coconut milk and butter.
Fold in the sifted dry ingredients and the anise.
Roll on floured board to about 1/8 inch.
Cut with cookie cutter, arrange on greased cookie sheet, and bake in a moderate oven (350 degrees Fahrenheit) until brown.