Is it your first time spending Christmas in Spain? We have delicious and rich gastronomy and as you already may know, during the holiday season the sweets multiply ten-fold! You may start seeing different names such as polvorón or peladillas that you just don’t recognize. Yes, they may sound a bit strange, but we assure you that they’re delicious. You won’t get tired of eating them this holiday season, and just so that you don’t get too confused, we’ve compiled the major ones into this brief encyclopedia!
The polvorón is the most famous and the most authentic of Spanish Christmas sweets. They’re made in a tiny town in Seville called Estepa. They started making them in a convent of nuns in century XVI, and since then, they have spread all over the country. But what is a poltroon exactly? It’s a paste that has been baked whose main ingredient is pork lard mixed with flour, almonds, anise, cinnamon, and sugar. There are also different kinds such as lemon, coconut, and chocolate. It’s round shape tends to fall apart when you eat it, so we recommend that you smash them first in your hand before diving in!
Mantecado is very similar to the polvorón, but the difference is that where polvorones are only available during Christmas time, you can find mantecados throughout the year. The ingredients are the same, pork lard, but it doesn’t have almonds, but it does have eggs. There are also different flavors. They are usually square, but eating them all smashed up is much better! Tip: don’t try to eat a whole mantecado in one bite. It’s a bad idea, trust us!
Oh Turrón! There are so many different flavors that it will beard to find one Spanish person that doesn’t like them! The classic ones are soft turrón and hard. It’s made with crushed almonds, sugar, honey, egg whites, lemon and cinnamon. The most famous is from Jijona. The hard turrón comes from Alicante, and this one is made with whole, toasted almonds, e.g. whites, honey, wafer or angel paper (that this white paper all around it is edible!). Both are sold in a tablet form with either chocolate, coconut, cream catalana, strawberry, cream, with fruit, chocolate with cookies and many more!
Roscos de vino
We can call these Christmas donuts. They are sort of a hybrid between mantecados and polvorones, but they’re unique in their own right. Their main ingredients are olive oil and sweet wine. They are crunchy and have puff pastry on the inside. You’ll get hooked on these Christmas sweets!
Even though the most famous marzipan of Spain is from Toledo and they eat it all year round, in Christmas time the supermarkets and shopping carts are filled with this stuff! They come in all shapes and sizes from geometric shapes to animal shapes as well! They also have Arab roots because Toledo had a huge Arab and Muslim population during the Middle Ages. It’s made with almonds, potato and sugar. Yes potato, but it’s not salty at all!
Don’t confuse these with the typical version from Argentina. These are Christmas sweets and they have almond in them.They are directly linked to the Arab culture that was so present in Spain. Even Al-Andalus ate these! It’s an almond paste with honey, flour or breadcrumbs and different spices such as clove, sesame, cinnamon or a bit of chocolate.
Pasteles de Gloria
These little cakes are super sweet: clusters of marzipan filled with grilled sweet potatoes.
Candied almonds that are typical to the Community of Valencia. Interesting fact: it’s traditional to give these as a gift at baptisms. Be careful: they’re very hard!
Almendras rellenas (stuffed almonds)
In reality, they’re not really stuffed almonds. They are wafers stuffed with almond paste and toasted hazelnuts with chocolate. They’re tiny, but packed with flavor!
Bolitas de chocolate y coco
Its name is clear: little clusters of chocolate and coconut. They are tiny coconut clusters covered in chocolate. Yes, it’s as delicious as it sounds.
They are tiny muffins filled usually filled with chocolate. Guess what ingredient they also have?! Almond!
A sweet and delicious dessert! This is a square-shaped cake that has butter, or lard, orange, white wine and flour. In spite of their name, they don’t have puff pastry, but the texture is similar.
You can crystalize almost any fruit by cooking it in syrup, or water with sugar. This Spanish Christmas sweet is comprised of tiny dry, crystalized fruits that taste like candy! You’ll find turrones that have these candies inside, but the most common place to find them is in the roscón de Reyes.
This sweet is the epitome of Spanish Christmas: it’s exquisite and expensive! To buy these chestnuts is very costly, but after one bite you’ll remember why it’s worth it. These are glazed chestnuts we’re talking about here!
Roscón de Reyes
We’re leaving this dessert for the end because you eat it on Three Kings Day whites the 6th of January, the last day of Christmas in Spain. This pastry is in the shape of an oval and has orange blossom infused water in the dough! The most typical thing to do is eat the cake only, but it’s filled with cream. In the inside there is a hidden bean and a surprise! Whoever finds the bean has to buy the next roscón, and whoever finds the surprise, well, has great luck! Do you want to enjoy it even further? Eat it with a glass of hot chocolate!
Churros con chocolate
Ok, so it’s not a typical Christmas sweet, but it is a Spanish tradition to eat churros and chocolate on the first of January, or some times even before going to bed after the New Year’s eve celebrations. On this day, you’ll find all the churrerías of the city open very early in the morning so that you can buy them: nothing feels better at that hour in the morning!