Polvorones – The Spanish Christmas cookie

Polvorones are Spanish shortbread cookies that are now only consumed during the holiday season. Originally these cookies were discovered in Andalusia, dating back to the 16th Century.  Like most famous traditional dishes, Polvorones were created due to the excess of certain ingredients; for these delicious cookies it was the abundance of lard and cereal.

 

These sweet biscuits did not become popular until 1870 when a woman named La Colchona made improvements to the recipe. She dried the flour to ensure the cookies lasted for more days, but more importantly this technique created the the harder outer shell of the cookie but with a soft crumble in the middle.

 

La Colchona was advised to give the cookies to her husband who worked as a driver from Estepa, a small town to the east of Sevilla, to a near-by town, Cordoba. He began to sell them in the local square in Cordoba; and this was the start of the commercialization of this famous custom. Today, Polvorones can be found all over Spain and there are many shops here in Santiago de Compostela that sell them during the festive season.

 

Whether you make these for Christmas day, or simply on any day of the year, this is our favorite and super simple recipe for these delicious treats!  We also think these are great snacks to carry on your Camino de Santiago!

 

Ingredients

3 cups plain flour

2/3 cups raw and ground almonds

½ cup lard or butter

½ tsp cinnamon

1 cup powdered sugar, more to decorate

 

Method

Preheat the oven to 270 ºF. Toast the flour and ground almonds on a baking tray in the oven for 30 minutes. Make sure you move the flour around so that it toasts evenly. Remove and set aside.

Place the lard, sugar and cinnamon in a large bowl and mix. Add the flour and ground almonds. Mix thoroughly. Knead the dough using your hands until smooth; do it gently because it will be very crumbly.

Refrigerate the dough for 90 minutes. Roll out the dough until it’s about 1/2 inch thick. Use a cookie cutter to shape and cut the cookies.

Preheat the oven to 250 ºF. Bake cookies for 25 minutes or until they begin to brown.  Remove from the oven and cool. Dust with powdered sugar.

*Try adding ½ cup of cocoa powder during step 2 of the recipe for an indulgent chocolate Polvorone; or ½ cup of grated coconut for a coconut version; or the zest of two lemons for a citric flavored option.

 

H. (2014). Polvorones | spanish recipe. Retrieved December 23, 2016, from https://www.thebestspanishrecipes.com/desserts/197

Mantecado and Polvorones. (n.d.). Retrieved December 23, 2016, from https://www.spanish-food.org/desserts-mantecados-polvorones.html

Ashleigh Mell

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