Rosketti (or rosketi) are small wonders that come straight from the Mariana Islands, northwest of the Pacific Ocean in Oceania. They melt in the mouth and have a very particular texture. Young and old alike love them on the island. They are a gastronomic legacy that rallies the Chamorro people. Let’s go conquer these amazing shortbreads!
Where are the Mariana Islands?
The Mariana Islands are located in the north of New Guinea and eastern Philippines. It is a chain of islands spread in the form of a crescent that consists of about 15 (dormant) volcanic mountains in the eastern Philippine Sea.
These are the most northerly islands in Micronesia. The Mariana fault is to this day the deepest oceanic fault in the world. Also, it is located in the east of the archipelago. The natives who live on the island are the Chamorros.
The Mariana Islands are mainly composed of two parts:
– The island of Guam, the largest. This is an unincorporated territory of the United States.
– The Northern Marianas, made up of the three largest islands (Saipan, Tinian and Rota) are on the contrary a Commonwealth of the United States.
Rosketti, a heritage of Chamorro culture
Rosketti are small traditional Chamorro biscuits. They belong to the shortbread family and are very friable. Their consistency is quite surprising because they are really melt in the mouth. This is due to the large quantity of corn starch in the recipe of these biscuits.
Since rosketti are easily crumbled, it is best to store them in a plastic box so they do not fall apart. Expats on the island of Guam are nostalgic for these biscuits as they typically remind them of their childhood. There are few sweet treats in this remote part of the Pacific.
Culturally, food is central to the Chamorros. It’s not so much the final product that matters, but all the stages of food preparation and preservation that come into play. These cookies are a gold mine if you receive them as a gift. Enjoy them accompanied by a large glass of milk as they may stick to the palate.
Rosketti have the particularity to come in many forms. The traditional form of these biscuits is the snail shape. Small pieces of dough are rolled then shaped into a snail. This shape cooks two minutes longer than the other variants because the cookies are higher. They must have a pale golden color on the sides.
The second form of rosketti is easier to make and takes less time. Just roll the dough like a little ping pong ball and then flatten it with the back of a fork.
History of the islands of Oceania
The Spaniards were the first Europeans to colonize the archipelago in the 16th century. However, history tells that the Mariana Islands were discovered and colonized for the first time by Ferdinand Magellan in 1521 after crossing the Pacific Ocean. Also, the abundance of fruits on this island would have made it possible to feed the hungry crew after the crossing.
Upon arriving Magellan had some disappointments with the natives. Disappointed with the distressing attitude of the natives on his ship, he nicknamed this island “the island of thieves” (“Islas de los ladrones” in Spanish). But in 1688, the island was renamed under the name “Las Marianas” after Queen Marie-Anne of Austria, widow of Philip IV of Spain.
Shortbreads in the world
In France, sablés are small shortbreads prepared with eggs, flour, sugar and butter from Sablé-sur-Sarthe. Unlike rosketti which is rolled or flattened with a fork, shortbreads are finely lowered using a rolling pin before being cut with a cookie cutter. They are used in the preparation of many pastry recipes and are available in several varieties in the region: galette bretonne or palet breton for example.
In Scotland, you will also find shortbread. This biscuit contains butter and also cornstarch to lighten its texture. It is mainly consumed for Christmas and the end of year celebrations. Its form is special. Indeed, these shortbreads are in the form of long and high rectangles.
In the Maghreb, goriba (ghribia, ghraiba or ghriyyaba) also has a melting texture that is very reminiscent of rosketti. Its shape is however different. Goribas take the form of small domes of dough, erected on a plate and then baked immediately. Their color is very pale like roskettis. Some recipes sometimes introduce almonds. They crumble very easily.
In the Philippines, polvorones are found as a legacy of Spanish culture. However, they do not contain lard or almonds, as cashews are used locally.
We hope you enjoy this island shortbread recipe. If you follow the recipe, you will get about 40 cookies.
Tip: In order to obtain cookies of the same size, it is recommended to weigh balls of about 1.5 oz of dough before flattening them on the plate with a fork or rolling them. This will allow even baking of the cookies.
- 4 cups cornstarch
- 2½ cups flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 pinch salt
- ⅔ cup caster sugar
- 1 cup butter (soft)
- 3 eggs , beaten
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter until smooth.
- While continuing to beat, slowly add the sugar and beat until obtaining a creamy mixture.
- Incorporate the eggs in 4 times while beating
- Stir in the vanilla extract.
- In a separate bowl, combine the cornstarch, flour, baking powder, and salt and sieve.
- Using the flat beater (K) at slow speed, add all the dry ingredients to the creamy mixture in the bowl of the stand mixer until obtaining a smooth mixture.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Divide the dough into 30 to 35 pieces of dough and form very smooth balls the size of a ping pong ball.
Preheat the oven to 350 F / 175 C.
- There are three traditional shapes of rosketti.
- Place the balls, well spaced, on the sheet lined with parchment paper.
- Press on each ball with a fork to flatten it by giving it a slightly oval shape.
- Form a long rope then wrap it around itself, giving it a snail shape.
- Make a long rope then give the shape of a pretzel.
- Place the rosketti on the baking sheet, and bake for 15 to 20 minutes.
- The edges of the rosketti will begin to turn golden brown and the rest of the rosketti will remain a very light color.
- Just as they come out of the oven, place the rosketti on a wire rack to allow them to cool.