When one polvorón is melting away in your mouth leaving the taste of aniseed, lemon and cinnamon, you know that the rest of the batch will have to follow right away. They are very moreish! These Spanish Christmas shortbreads are so extremely crumbly that they are sold in silky individual wrappers to keep them from falling apart. Polvorones (from polvo: Spanish for dust) have been baked in Andalucía since the 16th century when woods still covered large parts of the region and the most important ingredients for this cookie – wheat, almonds, pigs for the fat and lemons – were in abundant supply. Now the polvorón is considered the essential Spanish Christmas cookie and you can buy them in pastelarías all over the country. I made the polvorón cookie into my favorite shape: a little star. Baking them is not difficult at all, but please be careful! These little stars are dangerously addictive and you might end up craving for a new batch sooner than might be thought sensible.
for about 40 stars
250 grams flour
250 grams soft unsalted butter or lard
250 grams icing sugar + extra for dusting
125 grams blanched almonds
2 teaspoons aniseed
grated rind of 1 (unwaxed organic) lemon
1 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of salt
Toast the flour in a frying pan stirring constantly until it colors lightly and starts to smell like toast. Take from the stove and leave to cool.
Grind the almonds finely in a food processor. Grind the aniseed with a mortar and pestle. Finely grate the bright yellow part of the lemon rind. Mix the flour with the ground almonds, the aniseed, the cinnamon, the lemon rind and the salt.
Preheat the oven to 175°C/ 350°F.
With an electric mixer beat the butter with the icing sugar for about 5 mins. until light and fluffy.
Add the flour mixture and bring together in a ball.
Roll out the ball between 2 pieces of baking paper to about 1,5 cm/0,6 inches thick. The dough will be slightly crumbly.
Use a cookie cutter with a simple shape to make plump little cookies. Carefully transport them to a cookie sheet covered with baking paper and bake for 20-25 mins. in the middle of the oven until lightly browned and done. Take the polvorones out of the oven and leave to cool on the cookie sheet. Dust with icing sugar.
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