7 traditional Spanish sweet treats you must try this Christmas
As we know well, Spain is a culture rich in gastronomic wealth and that couldn’t be truer than at Christmas time. The variety of traditional candies and desserts is overwhelming! So, why not give in to your sweet tooth – we highly recommend you try each of these delicious treats...
In Spain, Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without this abundance of traditional festive treats. It’s not just the elaborate Christmas lights or traditional Nativity displays (Belenes) that adorn Spanish towns at this time of year.
As much of a yuletide necessity as the Christmas tree itself, take a look in any market or shop window and you’ll find a very special variety of sweet treats guaranteed to get any Spaniard’s mouth watering during the holiday season.
There are a huge number of sweet sensations to try, but the star of Christmas time in Spain has to be Turrón. Of Moorish origins, this is a sweet that comes in many different forms and flavours depending on the recipe of its region, and it is guaranteed to occupy space in every supermarket in the lead up to Christmas.
Varieties include Turrón duro which originates from Alicante – a delicious crunchy nougat of egg, honey, almonds and sugar. There is also Turrón blando, typical of Jijona, which is softened by adding olive oil providing a smooth consistency similar to fudge. There are many other twists on the classic to try including fruits, chocolate, coffee, whisky and much more. Take a look at our fabulous VIVA Turrón recipe here.
These crunchy little beauties are originally from Andalucía and other regions of Southern Spain. A delicious sweet dough typically flavoured with sesame seeds or aniseed is fried in olive oil and glazed with sticky honey and/or sugar. Typical also of the All Saints holiday at the end of October, these wonderful pastries are a real treat for the tastebuds.
Another firm favourite of peckish Spaniards at Christmas, Marzipan originates from Toledo, not far from Madrid in central Spain. This tasty mix of egg yolk, sugar and almonds comes in many creative forms, handcrafted into festively-shaped figurines and fruits so intricate that it almost seems a pity to eat them!
A base for many other festive treats, each Spanish region typically has its own recipe so there’s no doubt you will find these sweet delights appearing in every corner of Spain during the Christmas period.
Another delicacy originating from the region of Andalucía, Polvorones are a crumbly shortbread made of flour, milk, sugar and nuts, moulded into balls. Also available in a variety of flavours (including cinnamon, lemon and vanilla), these biscuits are known for their (very) powdery consistency and will be found in every supermarket during the Christmas season.
Roscos de Vino
These ring-shaped delightful delicacies have been enjoyed around Christmastime in Spain for centuries. A sweet almond and cinnamon cookie flavoured with a touch of Moscatel wine, moulded into doughnut shapes, baked and topped with powdered sugar or white chocolate – don’t miss out on these irresistible treats!
If you’re living in Spain yourself, there’s no doubt you will have seen these in the local shops during the countdown to Christmas. Covered in brightly coloured greaseproof wrappers, these festive sweets are very similar to Polvorones and come in a huge assortment of flavours, with the most common being aniseed or cinnamon. Made from lard, sugar and almonds, it’s Andalucía that once again lays claim to the origin of these yummy mouthfuls, and you only need to try them to see why no Spanish home is complete at Christmas without them.
Roscón de Reyes
You can’t celebrate Christmas in Spain without the ‘King’s Cake’ or Roscón de Reyes. This ring-shaped cake is served the night before the morning of ‘King’s Day’ on 6th of January, also known as the Twelfth Day of Christmas. Cream is sandwiched between two layers of sweet pastry cake crowned with dried fruits.
Commonly in Spain, roscones bought in pastry shops will have a small figure of baby Jesus hidden inside, as well as the more traditional dry fava bean. Whoever finds the figure is crowned ‘king’ or ‘queen’ of the celebration, whereas whoever finds the bean has to pay for the next year's Roscón de Reyes.