Two halves of a polvorón
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A polvorón (From polvo, the Spanish word for powder, or dust; Cebuano: polboron; Tagalog: pulburón) is a type of heavy, soft and very crumbly Spanish shortbread made of flour, sugar, milk, and nuts. They are produced mostly in Andalusia, where there are about 70 factories in that are part of a syndicate that produces polvorones and mantecados. Under the name mantecados, these sweets are a traditional preparation of other areas of the Iberian Peninsula as well.
Polvorones are popular holiday delicacies in all Spain and ex-Spanish colonies in Latin America, as well as the Philippines. Traditionally they were prepared from September to January but are now available all year round. There are authors who claim a possible Levantine origin, based on a similar sweet known as ghurayba, but the recipe is too simple and one of the traditional main ingredients of polvorones is lard (pork fat).
Mantecado is a name for a variety of Spanish shortbreads that includes the polvorón. Often both names are synonymous, but not all mantecados are polvorones. The name mantecado comes from manteca, usually the fat of Iberian pig (cerdo iberico), with which they are made, while the name polvorón is based on the fact that these cakes crumble easily into a kind of dust in the hand or the mouth.
In the Philippines, mantecado, is a popular and traditional ice cream flavour, characterised as a mixture of vanilla and butter.
In Mexico, these are traditionally served at weddings and celebrations. The cookies themselves are small balls usually made with pecans. They are known in the United States as "Mexican wedding cookies".
The Filipino version of polvorón uses a large amount of powdered milk which is left dry, as well as toasted flour, and butter or margarine instead of lard. A number of local variants on the traditional polvorón recipe have been made. Well-known variants include polvorón with casuy (cashew nut), polvorón with pinipig (pounded and toasted young green rice, similar to crisped rice) and polvorón with malunggay leaves. Strawberry, chocolate coated, purple yam ("ube"), peanut and cookies-and-cream flavoured polvorón also exist.
Polvorones are a common Christmas dessert in Spain. These days there are options different from pig fat, like cow fat, as well as vegetarian polvorones and mantecados made with olive oil.
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- Spanish mantecado: sweet treat beats economic downturn
- Herrera del Duque, Extremadura - Gastronomía
- Salloum, H. 2007. Classic Vegetarian Cooking from the Middle East and North Africa. Toronto: Interlink.
- Helado mantecado