What to do when you are not a Sweet Tooth and live in Spain? Spaniards don’t understand me when I ask for a bit of cheese for dessert, rather than these sweet things that make your dentist smile. And now it gets even worse: The Holidays are here so Andalusia’s gastronomic wealth comes to its pinnacle. Like everywhere it is a time for parties and celebrations, and also for big meals with, of course, typical Christmas sweets. These are exquisite, traditional recipes, many of which have centuries of history, something hard to be missed at this time of year as it seems. Spanish cuisine in general is rich in flavours and smells and is very deep-rooted in the country’s culture.
At Christmas, culinary delicacies and especially desserts, covering tables all over here with colour and sweet tastes. Moist of the authentic, traditional desserts sweet treasures made with almonds, honey, sugar, chocolate and fruit, among other things, some with world-renowned quality. There are a huge number to try as there are many different Christmas sweets available all over Spain. The star at Christmas time, however, is surely turrón . This is a sweet of Moorish origins that can be found in most homes over the festive season. There are many different types of turrón. Another of the country’s most traditional desserts is marzipan , made of almonds and sugar. You will usually find it in “shapes” or as the basic ingredient for a host of different sweets. Each region has its own typical recipe and the sweetest delights appear in every corner of Spain.
Polvorones are most typical here in Andalusia as are mantecados and pestiños. A polvorón (from polvo, the Spanish word for dust) is a type of heavy, soft and very crumbly Spanish shortbread made of flour, sugar, milk, and nuts. Polvorones are popular in all Spain and ex-Spanish colonies in Latin America, as well as the Philippines, during the Christmas period. Mantecado (from the word manteca meaning lard) is a type of shortbread biscuit. The traditional base is composed of 50% wheat flour, 25% lard and 25% sugar, so mantecado does not form part of a calorie-controlled diet then! An extra ingredient provides the different flavours, for example lemon, cinnamon, almond or coconut. Pestiños (photo) are sweet critters or desserts that are popular in Andalucia and in other southern parts of the Iberian Peninsula. It is a piece of dough, deep fried in olive oil and glazed with honey or sugar and it is said that also Pestiños are greatly influenced by medieval Andalusian cuisine.
Then, when you think it is all over, there is the traditional Christmas ring, a cake eaten on 6 January, the popular feast of the Three Wise Men.
And for me? A kingdom for a sausage role.