“Try to say Pamplona while eating it”, said Juanpi once to me when I made a bite into a round and thick cookie that came wrapped in a silky paper. No matter how much I tried, I could not do it. If you’ve ever eaten a polvorón, you know for sure what I’m talking about. This crumbly little Christmas shortbread feels so dry in your mouth that you better keep it shut while chewing. Yet polvorón is something that must not be missing in Spanish homes for December feasts. I liked the taste despite feeling full after eating one single of them!
I can not buy polvorones here, and shipping them from Spain would be a kind of no-go, but I wanted to see how Juanpi would react, so I decided to give it a try: the result was a batch of beautiful, crumbly and aromatic treats – and a big smile on Juanpi’s face!
There are so many different recipes on the Internet that they got me confused from the start: there were versions with eggs and those without, the quantity of flour versus other ingredients also seemed doubtful in many of a case so I just had to rely on my own judgment. I went for the “safer” option with the egg, since it’s known to me the egg helps hold the dough together.
(yield: 20 cookies)
250g butter or pork fat which is traditionally used for polvorones
a pinch of salt
125g home-prepared vanilla confectioner’s sugar*
125g ground almonds
juice and grated skin of 1 organically grown lemon
1tsp ground cinnamon
* Split one vanilla bean and scrape out the seeds, then mix them with sugar and grind in coffee grinder.
1. Toast the flour in the preheated oven (130 – 150 degrees, depending on the oven) for about 15′. Stir every now and then and remove as soon as the flour starts changing color. Let cool.
2. Transfer the flour to a bowl, make a well in the middle and add sliced butter, the egg, ground almonds, salt, sugar, cinnamon, lemon juice and grated skin. With a help of a wooden spoon, mix the ingredients, then knead using your hands until forming a smooth, elastic dough. Wrap in a cling film and let rest in the fridge for an hour.
3. The dough is incredibly crumbly. The rolling pin couldn’t do its work, so I used my hands (palms) to shape small quantities of dough 1cm thick and cut the cookies, using a round cookie cutter (or in my case, a glass). I also used a heart-shaped cutter, just for fun. Now place the cookies onto a baking sheet, lined with parchment paper and bake at 180-200 degrees (again, depending on the oven) for 10-15′. Let cool.
4. Roll the cooled polvorones in confectioner’s sugar and store in air tight container.
Or like they do it in Spain, wrap them in a special silky paper, if you have the chance to find it.
They break easily at this point, so better let them cool completely.
The crunchiness is provided by almonds: I didn’t peel them before grinding because I prefer them like this.