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Bizcocho (Spanish pronunciation: [bisˈkotʃo]) is the name given in the Spanish-speaking world to a wide range of pastries, cakes or cookies. The exact product to which the word bizcocho is applied varies widely depending on the region and country. For instance, in Spain bizcocho is exclusively used to refer to sponge cake. In turn, in Uruguay, most buttery flaky pastry including croissants are termed bizcocho, whilst sponge cake is called bizcochuelo. In turn, in Chile, Dominican Republic or Bolivia bizcocho refers to a sweet dough (masa) baked with local ingredients, not dissimilar from the bizcocho from Spain. In Ecuador the dough of a bizcocho can either be sweet or salty. The US state New Mexico is unusual in using the diminutive form of the name, bizcochito, as the name for a locally developed and very popular cookie.
Types of bizcochos
Some of the most usual types of bizcochos are:
- Sponge Cake: sponge cake is the sole pastry called bizcocho in Spain. It may be baked with chocolate, lemon, yoghurt, etc., in the same manner as any other sponge cake.
- Cruasanes [kɾwaˈsanes] or Croissants: Croissants are called bizcocho in Uruguay. They can be sweet (cruasanes dulces, with sugar or chocolate on top) or savory (cruasanes salados, sometimes with cheese on top). Croissants can also be filled with pastry cream, dulce de membrillo (a sweet quince paste), dulce de leche for the sweet ones or cheese, ham or salami for the savory ones. Croissants in Argentina are known as facturas, not bizcochos.
- Margaritas: They are a variation of croissants with the extremes put together, found both in Uruguay and Argentina, leaving some space in the middle for a filling (pastry cream, dulce de membrillo or dulce de leche). They have sugar on top of the pastry and the filling. Margaritas are always sweet and they got their name from the flower they resemble (a daisy, known in Spanish as "margarita").
- Vigilantes [bixiˈlantes]: Another sweet variation of croissants. They are long and thin, with sugar on top.
- Galletas dulces [ɡaˈdʒetas ˈðulses]: Known as a bizcocho in Uruguay, was originated from a kind of bread known as galleta, galleta de campaña or galleta con grasa. Galletas dulces have a cover of caramel and sugar on top.
- Pan con grasa (same in the plural): This is another kind of bizcocho in Uruguay originated from a type of bread (the cañón). Pan con grasa are the most popular savory bizcochos along with savory croissants.
- Ojitos [oˈxitos]: A kind of round cookie with a space in the middle filled with dulce de membrillo, again from Uruguay.
- Polvorones [polβoˈɾones]: Another kind of cookie. They can be simple, contain cocoa (known as polvorones de chocolate) or mixed. Originated in Spain, polvorones are called bizcocho exclusively in Uruguay.
- Bizcochito: A cookie flavored with anise and cinnamon developed in the Spanish colonial province Santa Fe de Nuevo México, roughly corresponding to the US state New Mexico in the present day.
Bizcochos are one of the most intrinsic traditions of the Uruguayan culture. They are the inseparable "companions" of mate, coffee, café con leche or tea for breakfast or the merienda (afternoon tea.) They are also common in meetings with friends, especially those taking place in parks, squares, beaches or along the coastline in ramblas (an avenue bordering the coast with pedestrian areas on each side) such as the ones in Montevideo.
Bizcochos are sold not only at panaderías (bakeries), but also at specialized shops called bizcocherías.
Other uses for the name
In some parts of Mexico, bizcocho is a very vulgar term, not used in polite company.
In Colombia bizcocho refers to a handsome older gentleman as well as to a tasty sweet cake.