These super crumbly and soft Spanish Xmas sweets are as good for your soul as they are bad for your diet. But hey! Who said diet in Xmas?
‘Polvorón’ comes from ‘polvo’, Spanish for dust. Remember it the next time you put a polvorón in your mouth and everything will suddenly make sense.
The Spanish polvorones are a very soft and crumbly type of Spanish shortbread made of four basic ingredients: pork lard, flour, sugar and cinnamon. Like many other sweets from southern Spain, the original recipe for the polvorones was inspired by an ancient Arab preparation which was introduced in the peninsula by the Moors. Given that Muslims do not eat pork, the original recipe did not include pork lard but it used oil or sometimes milk instead. It became such a popular sweet that when the Spanish Inquisition started to persecute non-Catholic citizens, it was officially decreed that the milk should be replaced by pork lard as a mean to identify secret Jews or Muslims.
Today, the Spanish polvorones are made all over the country, where they have become a popular Xmas sweet which gets traditionally served after the festive meals, together with the ever present turrón. We can find polvorones in several Spanish regions like Tordesillas in Valladolid or even in Navarre. Still though, Andalusia remains the main producer in the country, and the towns of Estepa in Seville and Antequera in Málaga are famously known for their vaste production.
The recipe below is the classic one for Spanish polvorones. However, you can create your own flavoured variants by adding some extra ingredients when you are making the basic dough. Try adding 50g of cocoa powder during step 2 of the recipe for an indulgent chocolate polvorón. Or 40g of grated coconut for a coconut version. Or the zest of two lemons for a citric flavoured option.
Making polvorones is good fun so go for it! You will love them! And most importantly, when you hold one in your hand remember to do what every single Spanish child has done at some point during their early years. Put a whole polvorón in your mouth and then try to say ‘Pamplona’ very loud. Let’s see what happens! 😉