Christmas Cookies for Lazy Days
Even though I enjoy cooking very much, I have never been much into decorating foods. I remember seeing my mother baking cakes and then decorating them with such devotion and precision that was inspiring to see. Probably has to do with the fact that I have never been too crafty. I don’t make pretty bows or make decent objects with paper. I have never had the touch to make a delicate flower arrangement or keep things too neatly. For better or worse, I’m usually rushing to the next thing. With my daughter’s therapy program and everyday duties this habit has become more of a way of survival during the past 14 years.
Now that we have finally arrived to Christmas time, you know, cookies season, I just see beautiful cookies around, decorated so perfectly that it’s almost unthinkable to take a bite out of them. For a moment there I truly wished to have the patience, skill, coordination or the pulse to decorate a beautiful cookie. I truly don’t. The idea of making pretty cookies as simple as it could get definitely stuck into my mind for this holiday season. There is when polvorones came into scene.
Polvorones are a kind of short bread cookie that you will find basically on the streets. For some reason this humble cookie never had it’s place in big supermarkets, just at small town food shops, especially in rural areas. You could also find them in town festivals. Their texture is very hard, that’s part of the fun. Actually, the name “polvorón” comes from “polvo”, which means dust, and it’s because these biscuits are hard enough to crumble as soon as you take the first bite. The best part is that they will come topped with very tiny colored sugar sprinkles, making them very pretty and colorful. That’s why this will be my cookie for the season.
I thought of baking a good batch for Christmas, not only because they are really simple but also because I knew it will only take very pretty Christmas sugar sprinkles to make them pretty and festive, as pretty cookies in a bakery. The process is very straightforward and you could bake them as soon as the dough is well mixed. It will take some extra time if you want to make them with the fluted form. For both ways you can decorate them with the sprinkles. I hope this can be a good baking project for your Christmas and an alternative if you are always in a rush like me. What do you think?!
1. You could use half of the almond extract or just change it for good vanilla extract or paste. The almond flavor is the traditional.
2. Be careful with the time, they will be done by the 15th minute, but you could leave them 1 or 2 minutes more for a firmer crumble.
About 35 2” cookies
Total time – 25 minutes, 45 if making them fluted Active time – 10 minutes, 30 for fluted
Equipment – Stand mixer, cookie sheet, parchment paper or silicone mat
Unsalted butter, softened – ¾ cup (12 TBSP)
Raw sugar – 1 cup
Egg yolk – 1
Almond extract – 1 Tsp
Fine sea salt – ⅛ Tsp
Unbleached flour – 2 ½ cup
Some iced water
Some powdered sugar
Preheat oven to 350°. Prepare a cookie sheet with a silicone mat or parchment paper and also sprinkle some flour over a clean flat surface.
In the bowl of a stand mixer beat the butter with the sugar in low speed (speed 1) for two minutes. Add the egg yolk, salt and almond extract and beat for 2 minutes more. At this point lower the speed of the mixer and start adding the flour, ½ cup at a time. You’ll notice that it will become difficult for the mixer to beat the dough, that’s completely normal. Beat just until all the flour is well incorporated. You’ll see the dough somewhat crumbly at the middle of the bowl. Take it out and place over the floured surface. Knead the dough to incorporate everything and make it even, adding just a few drops of iced water to help everything come together. At this moment you can make 2” small dough balls, press them a little bit and place them in the cookie sheet, leaving about ¼” between them. Dust them with a little of the powdered sugar, then spread it with your finger around the cookie top. Sprinkle the sprinkles on top and press them a little bit towards the cookie. Bake for 15 to 17 minutes, until firm to the touch and slightly golden in color.
To give them the fluted form, make a ball of dough of about 2”. Press it between your hands and flatten as far as you can, then cut with a 2” fluted cookie cutter. Take the cookie and press again between your hands, you can even twist them a little bit to help you flatten the dough. Cut again with the cookie cutter and place in the cookie sheet, leaving ¼” between them. Dust with some powdered sugar and spread it with your finger around the top. Sprinkle the sprinkles on top and press them a little bit towards the cookie. Bake for 15 to 17 minutes, until firm to the touch and slightly golden in color.
Let them cool for a while before enjoying. Store in an airtight container for up to a week.