Polvorones are delectable shortbread-like cookies famous in Spain and Mexico, and are similar to those shortcrust cookies found in other parts of the world. Once baked, they are rolled in powdered sugar giving it a beautiful delicate appearance and are usually made during weddings and other celebrations. For weddings, they are wrapped individually in white tissue paper and twisted closed on opposite sides like a candy. For other celebrations, brightly-colored tissue paper is used. The word Polvorone is said to have originated from the word Polvo which means dust or powder in Spanish, maybe because of the powdered sugar or could it be because it is so crumbly and powdery?
Although Mexican Wedding Cookies and polvorones are said to be the same, the recipes I use for each are slightly different. My Mexican Wedding Cookies are crisp, crumbly and melt-in-your-mouth and I use finely chopped nuts in a butter-based dough. These polvorones are also crumbly and light but have a delightful slight chewiness thanks to the addition of finely ground nuts. They were traditionally made with lard in Mexico, but this recipe uses vegetable shortening to produce the lighter crumb and butter is added for flavor.
Here I have used some rose extract and a hint of pink food color which lends a delicate rose color and flavor to these wonderful cookies. I love the smell and flavor of rose, but it can quickly go overboard if you use too much. The extracts also differ in strength by brand, so use according to your taste and brand of the extract. In case you are not a fan of the rose flavor, you could use a tablespoon of fresh orange juice and a teaspoon of finely grated orange zest as the original recipe suggests. These cookies are usually made rounder and chubbier, but I flattened it a bit so that my little monkey can hold it and enjoy it as he pleases… 🙂
Polvorones recipe and info: Williams Sonoma, recipe altered.
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
21/2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup ground pecans
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp rose extract (add according to taste)
1-2 drops pink food color
In a bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat together the butter and shortening until creamy. Add 11/2 cups of the confectioners’ sugar, the rose extract, and the food color and beat until blended.
In another bowl, stir together the flour, ground nuts, and sea salt. Add the flour mixture a tablespoonful at a time to the butter mixture, beating until thoroughly incorporated. The dough will be crumbly. Transfer the dough to a large sheet of plastic wrap and press the dough into a ball. Wrap and refrigerate for 1-2 hours,
Position a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat the oven to 325 degree F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone baking mat.
Shape the dough into 3/4-inch balls and place on the prepared baking sheet, spacing them about 1 inch apart and gently pressing them to flatten slightly. Bake the cookies until the edges turn pale gold, 10 – 15 mins.
Meanwhile, place the remaining 1 cup confectioners’ sugar in a shallow bowl. When the cookies are ready, remove the baking sheet from the oven. While they are still hot, using a spatula, remove the cookies one at a time and carefully roll them in the sugar. Set aside on a rack and let cool completely, then roll them again in the sugar, shaking off any excess.
Serve the cookies right away, or layer between sheets of parchment paper in an airtight container and store at room temperature for up to 3 days.