If you’re looking for a new kind of cookie for your tea table, these Spanish cookies are unlike anything I’ve tried before! Take a break from (admittedly delicious) shortbreads and chocolate chip cookies, and give this Polvorones recipe a try.
What are Polvorones?
For fans of roasty, toasty, nutty flavor and velvety, melt-in-your-mouth texture, Polvorones are a must-try!
The nuances created by roasted almonds, toasted all-purpose flour, and the secret ingredient (which I will reveal after I’ve got you hooked on the idea) are truly unique and totally delicious.
Polvorones are a traditional holiday cookie in Spain, but I see no reason why you can’t make them any time of year! They use only a few ingredients (though I admit two are fairly unusual by American cookie standards), and come together simply.
The step of toasting the flour does take a bit more time than just using raw flour, but only an extra ten minutes or so, and it is well worth it! The depth of flavor that comes from roasting the flour and the almonds is unparalleled. Plus, your kitchen will smell amazing!
The name Polvorones comes from the Spanish word for “dust,” but to quell any fears you may have about eating a cookie named after dust, the origin of the name has to do with the crumbly texture of the dough, not the taste of the shortbread. Just want to be clear about that!
I was originally tempted to play around with the recipe—add ground Chai to enhance the cinnamon, or maybe play up the almond flavors with some amaretto or almond extract—but honestly, after first testing the confection in its classic form, I decided not to mess with simple perfection.
The taste is nutty, warm, deep, and grounded, with subtle hints of cinnamon that pair perfectly with spiced tea; and the texture is something unto itself. Soft, but not cakey; almost sandy, but certainly not dry—it has a rich smoothness that practically dissolves on the tongue. A most singular cookie!
Much of that singularity has to do with the secret ingredient—lard.
Lard…Give it a Chance!
I know that some people will see lard in the Polvorones recipe and immediately substitute it for butter. And that is an option. But don’t do it!
Lard and butter have very different flavor profiles, and the traditional flavor of these Polvorones is so lovely. If you trade it out for butter, you will get a nice cookie, but it will not be the same cookie.
The more earthy tone of the lard makes its way into the Polvorones and comes through in the complexities of the shortbread, but by no means will you be able to taste “pork fat” when enjoying your Polvoron. It is counterbalanced by the sugar and the deep, roasted flavor of the flour.
If a buttery shortbread is what you’re after, we have plenty of very tasty shortbread recipes in the Plum Deluxe index. If, however, you’re looking to branch out and experience something delicious in a new way, do yourself a favor and give lard a chance.
Growing up, lard was a staple ingredient in my house—we always had it on hand to make tortillas, rice, and tamales, and I still always have it in my cupboard for the same recipes—so I was able to try this Polvorones recipe without having to track down any new ingredients. If it’s not currently in your pantry, lard is easy to find—it’s not expensive, and you can get it at almost any grocery store.
Once you have it in your repertoire, you could always use it to make tortillas or tamales yourself—but I have a feeling you may want to use it all up on more batches of Polvorones!
Full Moon chai will perfectly complement the spicy hint of cinnamon in the cookies, and augment it with ginger, cardamom, and clove. A creamy splash of vanilla butternut extract rounds the blend out nicely!
The earthiness of a Puerh or perhaps our Golden Cacao herbal tea, with its turmeric pieces, aniseed, fennel, and peppercorn, lean into the more grounded elements of the Polvorones flavor profile. Cocoa nib and cocoa peel play well with the cinnamon and almond in the cookie and beautifully balance the more savory elements of the herbal tea.
A nutty blend like Porch Sippin’ Pecan black tea or Toasted Nut Brulee oolong would be an excellent pairing for a batch of Polvorones. The main elements of the teas—pecans and cinnamon, or hazelnut, chestnut, walnut, and almond (respectively), are ideally suited to harmonize with the roasted almonds and toasted flour in the shortbread.
Brew yourself a pot of your favorite tea, whip up a deliciously fragrant, delicately toasty batch of Polvorones, and enjoy a teatime unlike any other.
- 1 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup almonds (or almond flour, if you do not have a food processor)
- 10 Tablespoons lard (1/2 cup plus 2 Tablespoons)
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Powdered sugar for dusting
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spread flour evenly on baking sheet, roast in oven 10 to 15 minutes, until it darkens in color. (Check it every so often to be sure it doesn’t over-brown or burn.)
Meanwhile, heat a medium skillet over medium high heat. Toast almonds (or almond flour) several minutes until fragrant and slightly browned. Let cool.
Use a food processor to pulverize the almonds until they reach a flour-like consistency.
Once both flours have cooled, combine all ingredients except powdered sugar in the food processor, or a large bowl. (Flours, sugar, lard, cinnamon, salt.)
Blitz or stir until combined. Dough is dry and will take a while to come together, but don’t worry—it will!
Once your dough has come together, wrap it in cling wrap or bee’s wax and refrigerate at least 30 minutes.
When dough has rested, remove from fridge. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Roll your dough out until it is roughly 1/2 an inch thick. Use a cookie cutter to cut the dough into round cookie shapes, and transfer gently to a cookie sheet.
Bake 10 to 15 minutes, or until cookies have set and edges begin to brown. (Keep an eye on them around the 10-minute mark to see that they don’t burn!)
Remove from oven and allow cookies to cool completely on the pan. (They are delicate and prone to crumbling, so they are more likely to fall apart while still hot.)
Once cooled, dust cookies with powdered sugar.
Serve with your favorite tea, and enjoy!