The cold is already living with us and, without realizing it, Christmas has arrived and in Andalusia this celebration smells of roasted almonds and sugar, anise, wine and cinnamon… Every year, people from all over Spain look for typical Christmas dishes in Andalusia to become the undisputed center of the meetings that take place during this period. Whether you live here or are just visiting us for a few days, you cannot miss Andalusia’s famous Christmas products, as they have become an essential part of indigenous cuisine. Estepa, Rute and Antequera are the sweetest destinations for Andalusian Christmas cuisine.
Take note and enjoy this visit that will not leave you indifferent.
Andalusian pastry has deep links with the gastronomy of Andalusian times, both in its ingredients and in its preparation, so we have the use of almonds, sesame, matalaúva, honey, cinnamon … and of Sephardic cuisine and this is when pastry is at its height in Andalusia and Spain. Much of the success of creating sweets comes from conventual baking because for centuries much of the recipes evolved in monasteries and convents through secret recipes, sometimes linked to the practice of pharmacy.
In Andalusia and the rest of the peninsula, it is common to use sweet foods, at breakfast or at the end of meals (dessert). The taste for savory cakes or fried pasta (churros, pancakes and donuts) is a deeply rooted custom. Celebrating dates with cakes is as common as possible: birthdays, etc. Sometimes an assortment of cupcakes performs the same functions. It is also traditional to commemorate certain meetings with a cake, a clear example is the wedding cake.
At Christmas, the most traditional sweets are nougat. They are divided into two types: those with exposed almonds (commonly called hard nougat) and nougat with ground and pasty almonds (soft nougat). We can also find other products such as yellow nougat, fruit, coconut, pestiños, marzipan, peladillas, polvorones, etc. And it’s all placed in the center of the table for family and visitors to eat during the holidays.
And we could not talk about Christmas sweets and not mention the roscón de reyes, a wheat flour bread that contains both a small gift and a bean, according to tradition, which believes that whoever finds the bean must pay the roscón.
This typical dessert of Cordoba is one of the most sought after when the holidays arrive. As its name suggests, it is a mixture of nougat and chocolate which has as an entirely artisanal basis almonds, sugar, cinnamon and cocoa. If you visit the subbetic region of Córdoba don’t forget to taste the turrolate which is usually presented in the form of a bar so that you can better share it although, taking into account its exquisite flavor, this dessert does not take long to disappear!
2. Pestiños (Doughnuts)
These are the most famous desserts in Andalusia, they are usually prepared for religious festivals. Although the best time to eat them is Holy Week, for All Saints Day and Christmas Andalusian grandmothers go to the stove to surprise their grandchildren with these delicious donuts. Flour, oil and sugar, here is the combination of ingredients that give rise to this example of pastry, an essential part of the idiosyncrasy of Andalusian cuisine. You can find them at any bakery or patisserie, so be sure to buy some to take home and enjoy their exquisite flavor.
3. Polvorones (Shortcakes)
There is no Christmas table without good polvorones. This little cake flour, butter and sugar has a very special characteristic: it breaks down and turns into powder when eaten. Sanlúcar de Barrameda in Cadiz and Fondón in Almería are two of the places you can visit to discover how this product is made by hand. But don’t worry, you will find polvorones in any store in Andalusia, they are widespread throughout the region.
4. Roscos de vino (wine donuts)
What Andalusian family does not remember grandmothers preparing roscos? Christmas wouldn’t be the same without these round delights. It is essential that you taste this exquisite dessert if you are passing through Andalusia on these dates of the year. You will find this product on all Christmas markets or in all bakeries. Tradition has it that on the night of the Three Kings, a rosco is offered to each Majesty.
Chocolate is a dessert which is consumed throughout the year but which acquires a special significance at Christmas, especially at route in the Cordoba region. In this village is elaborated a enormous nativity scene in cocoa, in addition to a famous character in real dimensions. People from all over Spain arrive in this Andalusian enclave eager to tickle their taste buds while enjoying an original Christmas show. Don’t be the exception and come and taste the chocolates of central Andalusia.
6. Torrijas (French Toast)
Torrijas are served in Andalusia during religious celebrations such as Christmas and Holy Week. The recipe is very simple. It’s about a slice of bread soaked in milk with honey and spices, which after being breaded in egg is fried. This dessert has very humble origins and has very few ingredients, which will allow you to make delicious torrijas for the holidays.
7. Dulces de convento (Convent Desserts)
Within the stone walls of the Andalusian convents are kept the best secrets of the region’s Christmas pastry. The nuns elaborate every year with great care different desserts that will make any guest soar to heaven. Ronda sweet egg yolks, truffles, pestiños or chocolate with almonds, here are some of the examples that you can find in these spiritual corners in which they put all their tenderness and culinary knowledge at your disposal, many of which are inherited from the Middle Ages.
8. Alfajor (Small filled cake)
From our Arab past has remained one of the most famous desserts: the alfajor. Used at the time as an Arabic sweet, it has now acquired great significance for Christmas celebrations. Not only in Spain, this delicacy has crossed seas and oceans and become a symbol of Christmas in South America. These are two biscuits united by a sweet filling and bathed usually with a sugar or chocolate glaze. A whim of the holidays that you cannot miss.
9. Mantecado (Lard cake)
Born in the center of Andalusia, the mantecado has spread throughout Spain and has become the typical Christmas product. His secret? A paste with lard and a wide variety of different flavors. Those made at Antequera and Estepa are famous for their quality, delicious flavor and artisan workmanship. These cities receive hundreds of visitors each year who come to admire the master pastry chefs and to do their gourmet shopping. Don’t pass up the opportunity to fill your stomach with this great example of the region’s pastry.
10. Bread of Cadiz
Cadiz bread is a marzipan paste filled with jam. We start developing it in November so that it can put a touch of color on the tables for Christmas. This typical Cadiz recipe has a flavor of sweet almonds, which makes it a very easy to digest dessert. If you travel to Cadiz you can buy Cadiz bread and prepare your New Year’s Eve meal. A touch of color and flavor that will satisfy your guests.
11. Caramelized Almond
The “garrapiñadas” are made from raw almonds coated in caramelized sugar. Thanks to this, the almonds get the dark color of toasted sugar and the characteristic texture of this famous candy.
12. La hojaldrina
Hojaldrina is another Andalusian classic, it has a similar texture to mantecados and polvorones. Its name comes from the puff pastry inside these sweets. In towns like Alcaudete, on this date, its recipe reaches its maximum power, which the rest of the Andalusians greatly appreciate.
13. Cake of the Kings
The Galette des Rois is a circular cake that can be filled with cream, chocolate, truffled chocolate, whipped cream and caramel, whose name comes from the fact that it is the day of the Magi, when people usually eat it. Normally they also include a bean and a small picture inside, while whoever finds the bean has to pay for the patty, whoever finds the picture is crowned as king/queen.
14. Coconut balls
Coconut balls are made from coconut crumbs, condensed milk, chocolate and margarine, and have a round shape.
Borrachuelos are made with the same dough as pestiño and are usually filled with angel hair. There are two types, those covered in sugar and those covered in honey. In addition, this candy contains a fundamental ingredient, white wine, sweet and anisete, hence the name drunkard.
Enter 2022 in the sweetest way and try these examples of Christmas baking. Andalusia is a region full of charms and one of them is its cuisine. If you travel to these lands, don’t forget to shop for the most special dinners of the year and color your table with these typical quality products.
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WHERE TO STAY
If you want to discover the taste of Andalusian Christmas sweets, do not hesitate to stay in quality hotels, and without a doubt the best option is Fuerte Hotels. The chain has establishments where you can enjoy the best of each point of Andalusian geography. They are the best guarantee to dedicate your time to discovering these jewels for the palate. Marbella, Conil, Grazalema, El Rompido or Torrox are some of the enclaves where you can find these incredible establishments.