Well my husband, being from southern California and part of a Spanish/Mexican family has always talked about remembering his mom making pan de polvo, or Mexican wedding cookies during Christmas.
Because I bake, he has always wanted me to try and recreate these cookies during the holiday season. But honestly, they just weren’t anything like I have ever baked before so I was a bit intimidated.
Let me tell you that I am glad I didn’t try to make it before consulting with her. You see, when I make rolled out cookies I am used to making the dough with eggs and butter. But pan de polvo is made with vegetable shortening, lots of flour, a little sugar and cinnamon.
The result is a tender, slightly sweet cookie that kind of crumbles in your mouth (hence where the cookie gets its name: Pan de Polvo is ‘bread of dust’.) The cinnamon flavor is the real star of the cookie and it really makes it taste extra special.
First of all, you want all ingredients at room temperature, even the shortening. This is NOT like making pie crust where you want the ingredients well chilled.
Secondly, when you leave the mixture to sit for an hour before rolling, you want it sitting on the counter, NOT in the refrigerator. (Can you see why this confused me. Because normally you chill cookie dough in the fridge before rolling it out.)
Finally, when rolling out the dough, roll it thicker than you roll out a sugar cookie dough. Again, this is to make it less likely that the cookie will fall apart!
When making these cookies, it is traditional to use stick cinnamon and grind it in a coffee grinder, or even simmer it and make it into a cinnamon tea, but when I made it myself this Christmas I actually just used traditional ground cinnamon and it worked great. If taking this route, make sure to use a high quality cinnamon. I use a Saigon Cassia cinnamon from Vietnam that I purchase online from a store in Evanston (near Chicago) called “The Spice House”.
One thing is for sure! If you make this pan de polvo, you too will find yourself enjoying a new tradition that you will find yourself craving every Christmas season!!
Note about the pictures: Half of these were taken in California this past summer with my Iphone and half were taken this week with my Cannon when I made them with my daughter for Christmas. Can you tell the difference? The people in the photo are Aunt Jackie, my son, daughter, and niece!
- 5 cups of flour
- 1 3/4 cup of vegetable shortening (I use Crisco) -room temperature
- 1/2 c. of sugar
- 1 1/2 sticks of cinnamon grounded in a coffee grinder OR 1 1/4 t. ground cinnamon
- 6 Tablespoons of sugar
- 2 t. ground cinnamon (stick or ground)
- In a large mixing bowl place all ingredients and using hands, mix dough all together. -your hands will get messy as you squish all ingredients together. this is a great part to let kids help!) You have to squish the dough together for a long time. Up to several minutes. the heat from your hands is what makes the dough pliable for it to come together.
- Once dough comes together, place on counter (NOT the refrigerator) for an hour.
- Pre heat oven to 375 while you roll out the dough.
- Roll out the dough on a well floured surface. Roll out the dough thicker than you normally would for sugar cookies (see pictures)
- Cut out shapes with small cookie cutters (Like pie shape cutters)
- Place close together on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake for approximately 10-12 minutes or until edges are slightly browned. Allow to cool slightly on the cookie sheet before prying them loose with a spatula or fork. (Do NOT use your fingers or cookies will crumble apart!)
- In a medium bowl, mix sugar and ground cinnamon and dredge the slightly cooled cookies in the sugar mixture and then using a fork, place immediately on a cookie rack. (You must dredge cookies in the sugar mixture while still hot or sugar will not adhere well to the cookies)
- These cookies have a long shelf life. Place in a covered cookie tin when finished. Enjoy!!