Polvorones are traditional Spanish Christmas cookies that are flavored with almonds and are crumbly in texture. Polvo in Spanish means powder or dust, as these cookies will crumble to a dust-like consistency in your hand or mouth. This recipe, however, is softer and less crispy than other polvorones recipes. In fact, this version just about melts in your mouth!
Polvorones are a kind of mantecado, a variety of Spanish shortbread. Traditionally, these cookies were prepared from September to January only, but are now available year-round. They have quite a history--during the Spanish Inquisition, the officials decreed that polvorones were to be made with pork fat as a way to detect if there were secret Muslims or Jews in the regions of Southern Spain. Today, polvorones recipes often replace the port fat with shortening or butter or margarine. This cookie calls for toasting the flour in the oven first, which creates a unique and distinctive flavor.
- 1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup raw almonds
- 5 oz. (1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp.) butter or margarine
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
- Preheat the oven to 350 F. Measure and pour flour out onto a cookie sheet. Place in oven and "toast" the flour. Occasionally move the flour around on the sheet, so that it toasts evenly. Leave in oven for about 8 minutes. Remove and set aside.
- Place raw almonds on another cookie sheet. Toast the almonds until they change color just slightly, about 8 to 10 minutes. Remove and place almonds into a food processor. Process almonds until they are finely ground.
- Reduce oven temperature to 250 F.
- Cream butter, sugar and cinnamon together in a large mixing bowl. Add the flour and finely ground almonds and continue mixing. The dough will be very crumbly.
- Place a sheet of waxed paper on a cutting board or other flat work surface. Press the dough together to form a ball. Then press the dough onto the waxed paper. Carefully flatten it down to about 1/2 inch. Use a cookie cutter to cut out the cookies (you can use any shape you prefer).
- Use a small spatula to carefully move the cookies from the waxed paper to a cookie sheet for baking since the dough is very dry and flakey.
- Bake cookies for 25 to 30 minutes. Allow cookies to cool completely before removing them from the cookie sheets. Take special care not to break them.