Double Pine Salvadoran Quesadillas

I'm already starting to fill my freezer with goodies in anticipation of summer, when I won't be using my oven due to the heat.  Every time I bake something now, I put half of it into the freezer - meat loaf, meatballs, pastry shells, cookies, banana bread, and more.

I first learned about these little breakfast cakes from El Salvador from my friend Kat of Chocolocateria, who brought quesadillas to a tea party because they are both terribly tasty and gluten-free. They are made with rice flour, and bake up tangy and rich, like a mash-up between cheesecake and pound cake.  It turns out that they also freeze pretty well.  I'm looking forward to enjoying quesadillas again in the summer with a cup of coffee.

Quesadillas are traditionally made with sesame seeds on top.  I found the delicate citrus flavor of pine to be the perfect compliment to these breakfast anytime treats.  This recipe is adapted from the one that appeared on Food52.

Double Pine Salvadoran Quesadillas

8 oz. butter, room temp
3/4 c. sugar
3 eggs
1 c. sour cream
1/2 c. grated cotija cheese (or Parmesan)
1 c. rice flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. powdered pine needles*
big pinch of salt
pine nuts for topping

1.  Use a mixer to cream together the butter and sugar.

2.  Beat in the eggs one at a time.

3.  Next, add the sour cream and cheese, and continue to mix

4.  Sprinkle in the remaining ingredients except the pine nuts, being careful to evenly distribute the baking soda over the ingredients so that it doesn't clump, and combine the mixture until it forms a smooth batter.

5.  Evenly distribute the batter between 36 greased mini muffin cups.  Embellish the top of each with a few pine nuts, gently pressing them partially into the batter.

6.  Bake in a 375 degree (F) oven for 15 minutes, or until the edges take on a nice golden brown, which brings out the cheesy flavor of the quesadillas.

7.  Let the quesadillas cool in their pans for 10 minutes before transferring them to a rack to finish cooling.

*Fresh or dried pine needles buzzed through a spice grinder, then sifted


  1. Duuuuuude! And I have all the ingredients to make these! I'm running to the kitchen right now!!!!

  2. Holy mother of wow. Great recipe.

  3. I used to snack on these as a kid, but had totally forgotten about them. The other kids used to make fun of me for eating weird food, until they tasted the quesadillas, then they understood. Thanks for the reminder to return to an old favorite!

    1. They really are a lovely nibble, especially in this mini-muffin size. I envy your having had such amazing snacks as a kid.

  4. I love how you manage to make everything a bit wilder. Would pine powder also be good in cheesecake?

  5. What else is in the picture, this little bits under the muffin?

  6. I've never heard of these, but I do love having a rich bite of goodness with my cup of coffee. Wish I had the pine powder to make these. I guess I'll just go with sesame seeds.

    1. They really are just about perfect with coffee.

      I know that not everyone can forage pine nuts and they are expensive to buy. However, as long as you know how to properly identify pine, it is usually pretty easy to come by, and it only takes a few tips to make the pine powder called for in this recipe.

  7. I'm surprised I've never heard of these, as there were a couple of years that Salvadoran cuisine was much a part of my life. They sound delicious. I love cheesecake, and cotija, and of course pines. You're such a baker, B:)

  8. You could almost title this post, "A cheesy adventure." (Uh, inside joke, sorry.)

  9. Curse you! I've made two batches so far, and I'm hooked! Great recipes, works like a charm! Love the pine, too.

  10. please... I need to make the podwer . May I use an ordinary pine needles (Pinus sylvestris L) or it must be pinus pinea ? There is no pinus pinea in Northern Europe , and lately I don`t have any vacation to visit mediteranean countries to pick some needles. We do have pine nuts in stores, but no needles.
    I`ve found Your site looking for porcini recipes, and I love it! Thank You for sharing, Zosia


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