This is a recipe for lemon polvorones or Polvorones de Limon- the Spanish name, that make an excellent gift for your family and friends during the holidays! Polvorones are traditional Spanish crumbly cookies baked around Christmas time. The cookies could be flavored with cocoa, lemon, cinnamon, and many other things.
Polvorones - The traditional cookies of Spain
Polvorones are traditional Spanish crumbly cookies made around Christmas time. You will not find them all year round in Spain unless you buy them from the shops that sell souvenirs to the tourists.
Traditionally, these delicious crumbly cookies are made with lard and a mixture of almond flour and all-purpose flour. Polvorones usually have different flavors like almonds, lemon, cocoa, coconut, cinnamon, etc.
The most popular flavor is almond, and the cookies are known as polvorones de almendra.
The recipe I am sharing with you today is polvorones with lemon.
A few years ago, I visited Spain around Christmas time. The stores were selling polvorones everywhere, and I had the opportunity to try different flavors.
From all of them, the lemon polvorones stayed with me, so this is what we will make today.
"Polvo" in Spanish means dust, and these cookies won the "polvorones" name because of their texture. They are very crumbly, fragile, and sold wrapped in special paper to keep them intact.
As I don't have that particular paper in the United States, I used waxed paper, which worked perfectly. I have to tell you, and they melt in your mouth!
The ones who tried the polvorones before know what I am talking about.
You probably heard before that there are two different types of traditional Spanish cookies, polvorones, and mantecados, that are very popular.
You can find them all year round in the artisanal shops in touristic areas, together with the turron ( a nougat candy that usually has nuts and other flavors) and the mazapan, or the marzipan, as we know it in English.
Anyway, the polvorones and the mantecados kind of look the same, but they are not. What is the difference?
- Polvorones are made with all-purpose flour baked in the oven before, together with the almond flour. Also, polvorones are baked at high temperatures, only for a few minutes.
- Mantecados, on the other hand, are also made with all-purpose flour, but sometimes the dough contains eggs. I saw recipes where almond flour is added, but the original recipe is made only with all-purpose flour.
- Because the ingredients in mantecados are raw (remember that we bake the flour before making polvorones), the baking time is longer, and the oven is set at a lower temperature.
- Finally, mantecados cookies are consumed in Spain all year round, but the polvorones are baked only during Christmas.
These Spanish polvorones are NOT the same as the Mexican polvorones or Mexican wedding cookies you see everywhere online. Mexican polvorones are made differently and also have a very different texture.
What ingredients go into these delicious Spanish cookies?
- Almond flour- the original recipe is made with almonds roasted first, then pulverized in a food processor. You can achieve the same result by using blanched almond flour.
- All-purpose flour- I will show you what we need to do to make real Spanish polvorones. Keep reading!
- Powder sugar- this type of sugar helps with the texture of the cookies
- Lard or butter- if you want to make REAL polvorones, you need to stay true to the recipe and use lard. You will achieve great polvorones with butter, but you will miss the taste and flavor of a real polvoron made with lard.
- Lemon zest and juice- fresh lemon juice is the best.
- Cinnamon- use a good one. Quality ingredients make quality baked goods.
How do you make Spanish polvorones?
This recipe is not difficult to make, but it requires you to prepare the flour the day before. It is an easy process, but very important if you want to make real polvorones.
The only thing you have to do is place the all-purpose flour on a baking tray and dry it in the oven at 300F for 30 minutes. Do the same thing with the almond flour, but only for 20 minutes.
You will end up with flour that looks clumpy, but this is how it should look like. It has to cool down completely before you use it.
When cool, the flour needs to be sifted. Make sure you measure the ingredients right. Buy a kitchen scale. Kitchen scales are cheap and instrumental in the kitchen.
The dough is made from all-purpose flour, almond flour, powder sugar, lard (if you want a traditional cookie), or butter at room temperature. To this mixture, cinnamon, lemon zest, and lemon juice are added.
Note: The dough will be very crumbly, so make sure you measure the dry ingredients precisely. If you end up with more flour than you should, your dough will be very crumbly and impossible to handle.
Don't try to work it too much. Just put it together as a ball, wrap it in plastic foil and refrigerate it for an hour.
Place the dough on a floured surface and roll it not more than ½ inch thick. Use a 1 ½ inch round cookie cutter or a small glass to cut the cookies.
Grab them gently with a spatula and place them on a parchment paper-covered baking tray.
There is no need to place them inches apart because they don't lose their shape or rise.
Important note: Bake them at 400F/200C for ONLY 10 minutes. If you bake them more, the cookies will dry out, and the texture will change.
The cookies need to cool down completely before you can touch them. If you mess with them right away, they will crumble.
When cool, sprinkle them with powder sugar and wrap them in special polvorones paper or wax paper cut in 19x17cm or 7.4x6.7inch.
I ended up with about 40 cookies, perfect for Christmas gifts. They look good, are delicious, and are also not very difficult to make.
Are you interested in more Spanish recipes?
Spanish Orange and Fennel Salad
Spanish Orange-Almond Flan Recipe
How about more recipes to love?
Pin this for later:
Polvorones De Limon- Traditional Spanish Christmas Cookies
- 1 cup almond flour
- 4 cups all purpose flour
- 2 cups powder sugar
- 2 sticks PLUS 2 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature OR lard
- zest from 2 medium lemons
- ½ cup lemon juice you should have about ½ cup juice or 8 tablespoons (about 2 lemons)
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
How to prepare the flour before baking:
- Preheat oven to 300F/150C. Place the all-purpose flour on a baking tray and dry it in the oven at 300F for 30 minutes. Do the same thing with the almond flour, but keep it in the oven at 300F only for 20 minutes.
- Let the flour cool completely. The flour might look clumpy, but this is how it should be.
- Sift both flours together with the cinnamon and set aside.
How to make the polvorones cookies:
- Lard or butter should be at room temperature.
- Cream together lard or butter with the powder sugar. You can do it by hand or with a mixer.
- Add the mixture of all-purpose flour and almond flour over the lard and sugar.
- Add the lemon zest and juice.
- Mix until you have a crumbly dough. Do not overmix.
- Place the dough on a floured surface and bring it together into the shape of a ball. Wrap it in plastic foil and refrigerate it for an hour.
- Preheat oven to 400F/200C.
- Cover cookie trays with parchment paper.
- Roll the dough about 0.5inch/1.5cm thick on a lightly floured surface.
- Use a cookie cutter or a round glass(approx. 1.4inch diameter or 3.5 cm)and cut the dough.
- Grab them with a spatula and place them on the cookie tray. Bake at 400F/200C for no more than 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let them cool on the tray.
- TIP: Do not try to remove the hot cookies from the tray as they are very crumbly. When cool, the cookies keep their shape. Also, do not keep them in the oven for more than 10 minutes. The cookies will dry out and change their texture.
- When the cookies are completely cool, dust them with powder sugar and wrap them in a special paper for polvorones or wax paper cut in 7.4x6.7 inches(19x17cm).
- The polvorones last a long time if kept in dry, cool places. They make great gifts for the holidays.
Christopher Smith says
This dough was very very dry I'm not sure if I need to add a little more something to it but they were very lemony so any more lemon juice probably wouldn't have been a good idea otherwise they taste fantastic
The Bossy Kitchen says
Hi Christopher, you did not do anything wrong and the dough is supposed to be that dry. You can actually see in the pictures I posted on the recipe that my dough was very dry also. Traditionally, the cookies are wrapped in a special paper, so they don't fall apart. They feel like dust, therefore the name comes from there(polvo=dust). I am glad you enjoyed them though. They are very different but special little gems.
I would the recipies for the cinnamon and almond cookies too! They sound amazing. Making the lemon ones today!
How much juice in measurement? All lemons are different sizes.
The Bossy Kitchen says
You will need more or less about 1/2 cup of lemon juice, or 8 tablespoons approx. I just corrected the recipe and clarified that.Thank you for catching that and thank you for the visit! I hope you make the cookies!
David Edmondson says
Hey, I think you have an error in your lard conversions. 2 tablespoons of lard should weight only 25g, not 250g, or you're calling for 1.25 cups of lard. For now, I'm going to go with the 2 tablespoons, as it seems that's more in line with the rest of the recipe and others I've seen.
The Bossy Kitchen says
Hi David. It is not a mistake.The recipe tells you this: 2 sticks of butter PLUS 2 tablespoons/ 8.8oz/250 g lard or butter at room temperature. It means that you can use butter or lard and you will need 250g of fat or 8.8oz of it. You also have 4 cups of flour, 1 cup of almond flour and 2 cups of powder sugar, for a total of 7 cups of dry ingredients.You need that fat. Also, keep in mind that the texture of the dough will be on the dry side, which is what you need to obtain that crumbly, sandy texture of the baked cookie.
My dough was too hard to roll out and immediately crumbled when I tried to flatten it with the rolling pin. I was certain I used the right amount of flour. Is it possible I over mixed or the butter was too cold? It was really hard to form balls so guessing it was too dry. Can you add milk in that case or are you done? The dough tasted good but need to trouble shoot for next time. Any advice is greatly appreciated.
The Bossy Kitchen says
Hi Courtney, I am sorry the dough was so dry. I am not sure what the problem was. This year, I noticed some weird things happening to my baked goods made with American unsalted butter. There are also multiple bloggers I heard complaining that butter doesn't behave the way it should. Next time, I would try to use European butter, like Kerrygold or some other brand you can find. The European butter has a higher fat content and can be used instead of lard. The butter or lard needs to be at room temperature but not melted. This will help coat the flour, so you don't end up with a dough that cannot be handled.
Make sure you get a scale to measure the flour precisely. If you pack the flour into a cup a little bit more than you should, you end up with more flour than you need.
Please do not add milk or anything else if it is not in the recipe, as you will change the texture of the cookies. They are supposed to be very crumbly. If you ever had Spanish polvorones, you will know what I am talking about. They have a very unique texture.
If you end up with a super crumbly dough and you used regular butter, try to add 2 more tablespoons of butter to the dough. The butter will help bring the dough together, without changing the texture too much. I hope this helps. Happy holidays!