Thursday, May 5, 2011

Frieda Kahlo's Almond Cornmeal Cookies

With her fierce beauty and unique fashion sense, Frieda Kahlo was an incredible artist who used glorious colors to paint the pain and passion of her life. She was one original Señora.

Years ago on the way back to Germany from the States, I once arranged an 8 hour layover in London solely to attend an exhibition of her art at the Tate. Many of the works were lent to the exhibit by celebrity collectors such as  Madonna. I spent an incredible few hours there immersing myself in her unforgettable paintings.

Good thing I lingered in the gift shop afterwards because I found this jewel of a cookbook written by painter Diego Rivera's daughter Guadalupe. Frieda was Diego's second wife.

The book is gorgeously photographed using original locations including the famous Blue house, once Frieda's home and now a museum. The recipes are arranged in menus in a 12 month cycle of fiestas. One of them is a recreation of Diego and Frieda's wedding feast. If you are a Frieda fan like me I highly recommend this book.

Guadalupe's mother, Diego's first wife, originally taught Frieda to cook.  Guadalupe lived with Diego and Frieda for a spell and in the book she shares her memories of that time along with Frieda's recipes. Frieda loved to celebrate holidays and occasions and constantly entertained guests. She set the most incredible tables with unique glass and tableware, embroidered tablecloths and napkins. Frieda especially loved to use flowers to decorate, often using them to spell out words on the table as well as matching the bouquets she arranged on the table to those she wore in her hair. Think of her as an early Tartelette, with salsa.

What I wouldn't give for an invitation to one of those fiestas.

Today, on Cinco de Mayo, I thought of no one better to honor than fantastical, gifted Frieda who was so proud of her Mexican heritage.

There are so many terrific recipes in the book. I was intrigued by these almond cookies because of the cornmeal. The original recipe finished off the cookies by beating egg whites and sugar together into a meringue to dollop on top.  I skipped that part because of the raw egg whites. We have our own happy healthy egg machines chickens here on the property and it's barely two minutes from under the hen into the batter. However, I know most people don't have this access so I left the cookies nekkid.

No worries. Not too sweet, simultaneously crunchy and chewy, they are delicious all on their own.

Frieda Kahlo's Almond Cookies
(From Frieda's Fiestas: Recipes and Reminiscences of Life with Frieda Kahlo by Guadalupe Rivera and Marie-Pierre Colle, Clarkson Potter Publishers, New York 1994)

  • 1 cup flour
  • 3/4 cup cornmeal
  • 1+1/8 cups white granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup blanched almonds ground and toasted
  • 3/4 cup butter softened
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 25 or so whole blanched almonds (I used 27)
*the original recipe made over 50 cookies. I halved it.

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
  • Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  • Toast almonds.
  • Sift flour and cornmeal together in a bowl.
  • Make a well and add sugar, ground almonds, butter and egg yolks.
  • Stir it together and then use your hands to knead the batter to make sure the butter is evenly distributed.
  • Roll into balls and flatten them slightly on the cookie sheet. 
  • Press a blanched almond into the center of each cookie.
  • Bake for 15 minute or until the edges become golden brown.
  • Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Feliz Cinco de Mayo!


  1. I MUST GET THAT BOOK! This post has touched my heart. So perfect for cinco de mayo. I've always loved Frida, and not just for her paintings.


  2. I watched the biography of Frida Kahlo many many years ago..
    The cookies look terrific!

  3. What a lovely write up about a beautiful talent. Your blog title certainly intrigued me with the cornmeal. The cookies look like they would be delicious with a hot cup of tea, or a cold margarita :)

  4. I had no idea that Frieda was also a cook! Crazy! These delicious cookies are definitely a great way to celebrate Cinco de Mayo!

  5. The book sounds gorgeous and these cookies remind me of some of my favourite Arabic cookies called ghraibeh. But the use of corn meal, that's definitely different and very intriguing. I'm thinking these would go nicely with a mug of Mexican hot choc!

  6. Lora - What a great post! It's my favorite sweet foodie post for Cinco de Mayo! I can't wait to try this recipe.

  7. I just baked my first batch. While I expected the dough to be mealy, the baked cookie is not as moist as I had hoped. Do you have advice? Thanks!

  8. @Kibra -Sorry to hear that! Try under baking them a bit. I did that in my second batch and they came out great. You can also try upping the butter amount by 1 or 2 tablespoons.

  9. Thanks, Lora. I added more two TB of butter and under cooking on the second batch, but still not there yet. I will try again this evening and let you know. I am determined to make it work ;) Thanks for all you do on your blog!

  10. These also look great.
    Where do you find the time!


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