“And said, ‘Thus far shall you come, and no farther,
and here shall your proud waves be stayed.’…” Bible, Job 38:11
“Ne plus ultra” or “non plus ultra”, is a descriptive phrase meaning the best or most extreme example of something, the ultimate. The biscuit named with this expression is a little labor intensive in its preparation that requires a little skill, but not nearly as complex, as beautiful, delicious and rich the finished biscuit are: certainly one of the best. My recipe originates from an old, stained, ripped cookbook (full of cakes and biscuits of similar quality), that was once owned by my great grandmother. These cookbooks were aimed were aimed to teach leading hard-working households in the early 20th century, with the expectation of nutritious, advanced kitchen wonders.
I remember when I first heard the phrase from my grandmother, it sounded something quite special. It was great without knowing the meaning, however, by today I have a clear sense of why the biscuit is called the unsurpassed, unequaled, grand. It is hard to imagine that the biscuit would have anything to do with the Lord who says these words “Ne plus ultra” in his speech addressed to the first creation, referring to the most intense degree of a quality . However, it is possible that whoever named it, when tasted the heavenly, light, crumbly biscuits, became inspired by the biblical greatness. There is no other food is not known by this name. My great grandmother’s recipe proposes to use almost the same amount of fat as flour, along with sugar, egg and a pinch of salt, and although there are recipes for lighter versions, the “non plus ultra” is best in its old-fashioned way.
“In extraordinary times, the ordinary takes on a glow and wonder all of its own.” Mike A. Lancaster
For the dough
320 g plain flour
280 g margarine
2 packages vanilla sugar
2 egg yolks
For the topping
2 egg whites
200 g icing sugar
10 grams of jam
Mix the ingredients for the dough and knead until smooth. Work fast as the dough will be very crumbly. Place the dough in the fridge to rest, for about an hour. To make the biscuits roll the dough thinly and use a small round cutter. Place them on a lined baking tray.
Whisk the egg whites with the sugar in a bowl above boiling water, until a very thick foam is achieved. Pipe small mounts of the mixture onto the dough discs. Bake it in a 170 degree C, preheated oven for about 12-15 minutes, until they are light golden and the mounts are still white. Let the biscuits to cool completely, and finally glue pairs of biscuits together with preferred jam.
“Things don’t have to be extraordinary to be beautiful. Even the ordinary can be beautiful.”