Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Manta Ray Cookies & Diving The Socorro Islands in Mexico


My last post about Mexico. So you all are spared until I travel again.



If you have been reading any of my other posts about my Mexican vacation, you know my husbandfish and I were aboard the Nautilus Explorer for 9 days to dive with Giant Pacific manta rays among other creatures at the Socorro Islands.




We had an amazing trip and yes, there were manta rays every dive. All the divers had to do was hang out, be still and the rays came right up to us often passing within inches. Amazing behavior for wild animals. We were not allowed to touch or chase them but it was ok to occasionally glide under or along side them. these were big creatures, often with wingspans of 15-20 feet.



It was thrilling, to say the least. We also saw a lot of sharks, mostly white tip and silky varieties and had some wonderful close up encounters with a pod of dolphins.



January is the start of whale season. we saw plenty of them on the surface, but the most magical occurrence was hearing them sing while we were underwater. It was strange and beautiful.

The Socorro Islands are a 24 hour crossing laving from Cabo San Lucas.  Once there, everyone gets into the rhythm of eat, sleep dive, rinse and repeat.



The Nautilus Explorer had an exceptional crew who took excellent care of us. they made sure we were comfortable, well fed and did their most to help us have the best dive experience possible.



Once back on land, there are times when I close my eyes, transport myself back to the Socorro Islands and see the mantas cruising and flying around us. 

Or I can just look at this clip of me with a manta.

video

On our trip I learned there are two types of giant Pacific manta rays, black and chevon. the black ones are totally black with white underneath. All mantas have spots underneath on their white bellies. That's how researchers and dive masters identify them, by their spot pattern. The other variety are called Chevon. They have white markings on top, usually around the shoulder area (if mantas had shoulders). I made both types. Oh and we also got to dive with a very pregnant manta. Very cool.



So, once back in snowy NYC,  a manta cookie cutter was ordered to make these cookies

I tweaked a sugar cookie dough recipe, adding a generous dose of sea salt for that sweet, salty taste. I added a whole tablespoon of sea salt to the dough which made it really salty. It was fine for my taste but you may want to start with incorporating 1/2 tablespoon, taste the dough and adjust from there. 



After covering the cookies with royal icing I used sugar crystals and disco dust to decorate them.


Sea Salt Rollout Sugar Cookies
(Loosely adapted from Vanilla-Almond Sugar Cookies from Bake at 350)


Ingredients:
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 1 cup white granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1+1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 to 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
Directions:
  • In a stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar at high speed until fluffy.
  • Add the egg and vanilla and combine thoroughly.
  • Add the sea salt (as much as you like)
  • In a separate bowl whisk together the flour and baking powder.
  • Turn the mixer speed down to low and add the dry ingredients.
  • Beat until everything is combined. 
  • Turn the dough out on a lightly floured surface. Roll out and cut out shapes using cookie cutters of your choice. 

For the royal icing, I used Bake at 350's recipe and instructions found here.


3 comments:

  1. Will miss your descriptions of this trip as the photos are so awesome that I felt as if I was there with you. These cookies are amazing, especially with the sea salt flavor... a terrific touch. Thanks for sharing!!

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  2. Perfect cookies as a nod to your amazing manta ray diving adventures! Stunning photos and video! You sure know how to vacation:)

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