Polvorones: Spanish Almond Cookies

Polvorones cookies

The Spruce

  • Total: 60 mins
  • Prep: 30 mins
  • Cook: 30 mins
  • Yield: 16 Cookies (8 Servings)
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
328 Calories
23g Fat
29g Carbs
4g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 16 Cookies (8 Servings)
Amount per serving
Calories 328
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 23g 29%
Saturated Fat 10g 49%
Cholesterol 38mg 13%
Sodium 179mg 8%
Total Carbohydrate 29g 11%
Dietary Fiber 2g 9%
Protein 4g
Calcium 64mg 5%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Polvorones are traditional Spanish Christmas cookies flavored with almonds and crumbly in texture. Like polvo, "powder" or "dust" in Spanish, these cookies will crumble to a dust-like consistency in your hand or mouth, but the name also derives from the fact that some choose to dust them with generous amounts of powdered sugar, making them dusty on the outside.

Polvorones are a type of mantecado, a variety of Spanish shortbread made with manteca, or pork fat. Traditionally, these cookies were prepared from September to January only, but nowadays are available all year-round.

Polvorones have quite a history: during the Spanish Inquisition, officials decreed that polvorones were to be made with pork fat as a way to detect if there were Muslims or Jews hiding in the regions of Southern Spain. When asked to eat the pork-full cookies these individuals had to decline because of their faith and were then taken by the inquisidores to face trial. Today, polvorones recipes often replace the pork fat with shortening, butter or margarine, but have maintained their status in Spanish cuisine as a favorite holiday cookie, used now simply to sweeten our life.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup raw almonds
  • 5 ounces butter (or margarine)
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for polvorones cookies
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  2. Preheat the oven to 350 F.

  3. Pour flour out onto a cookie sheet.

    Measure flour
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  4. Place the flour in the oven and toast it for about 8 minutes, occasionally stirring it so it toasts evenly. Alternatively, place flour in a non-reactive pan on the stove at medium heat and toast for 8 to 10 minutes while stirring. Remove from oven or pan and set aside.

    Place in oven
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  5. Place raw almonds on another cookie sheet. Toast the almonds until they change color just slightly, or about 8 to 10 minutes.

    Place raw almonds on sheet
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  6. Remove and place almonds into a food processor. Process almonds until they are finely ground into a flour-like texture.

    Put almonds in a food processor
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  7. Reduce oven temperature to 250 F.

  8. In a large mixing bowl, cream butter, sugar, and cinnamon together with a hand or electric whisk.

    Cream butter, sugar, cinnamon
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  9. Add the flour and finely ground almonds to the butter mixture and incorporate all the ingredients well. The resulting dough will be very crumbly.

    Add the flour
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  10. Place a sheet of waxed paper on a cutting board or another flat work surface. Press the dough together to form a ball. Then press the dough onto the waxed paper.

    Place a sheet of waxed paper on a cutting board
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  11. Carefully flatten it down with a floured rolling pin, into a 1/2-inch uniform thickness. Use a cookie cutter to cut out the cookies.

    Carefully flatten cookie
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  12. Since the dough is dry and flakey, use a small spatula to carefully move the cookies to the cookie sheet.

    Cookies on sheet
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  13. Bake cookies for 25 to 30 minutes until you see golden brown on the edges.

    Cookies on the sheet
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  14. Allow cookies to cool completely before removing them from the cookie sheet. They are so delicate that moving them while still hot will break them apart.

    Allow cookies to cool
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  15. Serve and enjoy!

Flavored Polvorones

In origin, polvorones don't have additional flavoring because the almonds provide enough sweet and mild taste. But more often than not, home cooks add spices, other nuts, and zest to make their own version of this classic Spanish cookie. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Replace the almonds with hazelnuts or cashews for an earthier flavor.
  • Add 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon and 1 teaspoon of vanilla to the dough.
  • Add 1 tablespoon of orange or lime zest for a citrus flavor.
  • Combine 50 grams of powdered sugar with 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon and dust the cookies once they are cool.
  • Add 1/2 cup of grated Mexican chocolate to make a chocolate version.
  • Add a few drops of natural food coloring, from beets or pomegranate, to make a pink dough and shape the cookies as hearts, an ideal treat for Saint Valentine's Day. Use green coloring for Saint Patrick's shamrock-shaped cookies, or orange for pumpkin-shaped Halloween treats. Use green and red for tree-shaped Christmas cookies.