5 Spanish Christmas desserts you must try this holy season
Our favorite list of yummiest Spanish Christmas Sweets is here
The variety of traditional Christmas desserts in Spain is huge. On Christmas eve and the other (many!) family celebrations during this time of the year, the table will be covered with lots of different Christmas sweets that as locals we’ve grown up with and learnt to appreciate.
If you are coming to Spain during the Christmas season (which is as long as going from December 24th to January 6th, the Epiphany day), you totally must try at least some of them to have an authentic Spanish Christmas experience.
You might have heard of some of them, but other might not sound familiar. Are you ready to explore a world of new flavours (and a few extra calories)?
This is our selection of Spanish Christmas food for sweet-teeths:
Turron. Yes, that’s the most famous of all the traditional Christmas food in Spain. But did you know there are many varieties? The most famous ones are the Alicante one (hard bar of white caramel and full almonds) and the Jijona (beige softer bar made of honey and minced almonds). But you definitely have to try the Crema one (a crème brûlée turron of caramelized marzipan with egg – sounds weird but it’s my favorite), the Nata Nueces (white marzipan with walnuts), the Candied Fruit one, the Coconut one and any of the many varieties of Chocolate turron.
Mantecados and polvorones. Round like a cookie, but much thicker and with a sandy texture, these Spanish Christmas food is sort of heavy in the stomach as it’s made of flour, sugar and lard, with added flavours such as cinnamon, coconut or chocolate. A popular variety incorporates red wine and it’s called rosco de vino. And when the recipe includes almonds, then it’s called polvorón, and its texture is sandier: it crumbles in your mouth. That’s why a popular children joke is to pronounce aloud the word “Pamplona” with their mouth full of polvorones (trust me, you don’t want to be in front of someone doing that unless you enjoy being sprayed with chewed food, LOL)
Marzipan. No Christmas desserts selection in Spain is complete without marzipan figures. We usually buy a couple of boxes because kids love trying one of each different design! The most famous marzipan in Spain comes from Toledo, where they make it in a variety of presentations, shapes and designs. By the way, marzipan is mostly made of grinded almonds and sugar, which makes it ideal for people looking for gluten-free Christmas desserts.
Yemas and Glorias. These Christmas treats also belong to the family of marzipan, but they are more ellaborated than plain figures. Yemas are made with marzipan and egg yalk, while Glorias are made with sweet potato instead of egg, and both come covered in icing sugar. If that sounds good, then you should also try the Pan de Cadiz, another marzipan dessert that both egg and sweet potato, plus candied fruit. In Barcelona it’s sold as piggy figures.
Neules (barquillos). The Catalan contribution to the list of Spanish Christmas food. It’s a rolled thin waffle that comes either plain, or covered in chocolate or stuffed with almond paste. Some people love dipping the plain ones on cava (the local sparkling wine), I personally prefer to dip the chocolate ones on my expresso after the meal (but that’s a personal thing).
But wait! Where can you buy all those Christmas desserts?
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Where to buy Christmas sweets in Spain. For cheap versions, head to any local supermarket: let’s face it, that’s what most locals do. High quality Spanish Christmas food can be quite expensive, as the ingredients (specially almonds) aren’t cheap. So industrial Christmas goodies usually carry less nuts but way more sugar. A better option: find a good pastry shop. They usually make their own turrons and sweets, and the quality will be good. However, note that both supermarket and pastry shops only sell Chritmas foods during the Christmas season. The rest of the year, you’ll need to do some research: most cities have one or two artisan specialty shops that sell Christmas desserts all year around. Ask your private tour guide or hotel concierge where to find them!
Did you know there were so many different Spanish Chritmas desserts? Head to the comments below and tells us: What’s your favorite Spanish Christmas food?