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.
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 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.
Why are they called polvorones
"Polvo" in Spanish means dust, and these cookies won the "polvorones" name because of their texture. They are very crumbly, and 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.
- 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 to make 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.
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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.