Quesadilla: Guatemalan Cheese Coffeecake

This Guatemalan quesadilla is a dessert cake, unlike the Mexican quesadilla that is generally known in the U.S. This cake is not too sweet and it’s the perfect match for an afternoon coffee. It is made with a fresh, crumbly cheese called “queso fresco.”

When Thousand Currents Executive Director Vini Bhansali went to Guatemala to visit with Thousand Currents partner APROSADSE, staff and board members welcomed her over a long, leisurely lunch to share updates about their programs. She remembered the meal was simple yet delicious and served with love. “I can see that this organization accomplishes so much powerful work in the community because its team treats each other like family.”

Over lunch that day, they also shared their organization’s history working with indigenous subsistence farming families, in light of the country’s 36-year-long civil war which saw more than 200,000 people killed or disappeared. The vast majority were indigenous Maya.

When APROSADSE was founded in the 1970s, its goal was to reduce the shockingly high rates of maternal mortality in the the remote, rural communities of San Martín Jilotepéque. The work of training and organizing health promoters and midwives was looked on with great suspicion. But, as they told Vini, it had to be done because there were no other services for people.

One of APROSADSE’s board members remarked to Vini on the similarities between their organization and Thousand Currents.

APROSADSE was founded to identify and find solutions to local needs, to the problems of our people. We knew that without people organized to build their own power, you cannot go far.

“I derive such courage from APROSADSE’s leaders,” says Vini. “I think if they continue to do what they do each day, how privileged am I, how much smaller a task for IDEX* to hold philanthropy accountable and focus on partnering effectively with such visionary groups.”

Guatemalan Quesadilla

1 cup rice flour
2 cups shredded queso fresco cheese*
¾ cup sugar
¼ teaspoon baking soda
4 eggs
¾ cup heavy cream

Preheat oven to 350 °F. In a mixing bowl, combine the rice flour, cheese and sugar, with the baking soda and toss to combine well.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the 4 eggs with the heavy cream. Pour this into the dry ingredients and mix just until the dry ingredients are moistened well.

Spray an 8 x 8-inch baking pan with cooking spray, or grease with butter or shortening.  Pour batter into the prepared pan and bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

* Sometimes a cheese called “queso fresco” is found in grocery stores but has more of the texture of mozzarella and will not shred properly. Look for a cheese that has a dry and not spongy texture. Parmesan or cotija cheese can be used if queso fresco cannot be found.

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*Thousand Currents changed its name from IDEX in 2016

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