Fine Produce

The best polvorones, a Spanish Christmas delight

Polvorones are beloved traditional Spanish Christmas sweets that are known for their delicate and crumbly texture, which is achieved through a high fat content and the use of toasted flour. These sweets typically contain almonds, flour, lard, sugar, and cinnamon, and the best producers are established in Estepa (Andalucía) and Tordesillas (Castilla y León). Finding a truly excellent polvorón can be challenging. The best ones have an almost ethereal texture and a well-balanced flavour of almonds and/or cinnamon. These are our top picks, selected after years of sampling various brands.

The confectionery Blancanieves Tejedor in Alava makes a polvorón that has earned a great number of accolades all around Spain, Felipe II. Its texture is particular, with a crispy top and a melting interior that is similar to a combination of icing sugar and fat. This distinct texture likely results from a higher fat content in the Felipe II. In terms of taste, the nutty flavour is primarily derived from the toasted flour and cinnamon, with little to no detectable almonds.

A close competitor of Felipe II is Carlos I (great branding – named after King Phillip II’s father) from La Estepa, the true motherland of polvorones. The Carlos I polvorón has a very pure almond aroma, with the nuttier notes of toasted flour almost absent. In terms of texture, it also boasts a crispy top, but the core is more crumbly compared to the Felipe II. Nonetheless, the almonds in the Carlos I are ground very finely, which keeps the texture smooth. The taste, dominated by a delicate almond flavour, is less sweet than that of Felipe II.

Among the Roca family’s many side projects, their confectionery and ice cream shop Rocambolesc was one of their very first. Apart from a large range of seasonal sweets, they also produce specific products for many local festivities. Evidently, items like panettone and polvorones become available in December and January. The Rocambolesc polvorón has a strong lemon zest and icing sugar smell. Its texture is more crumbly, likely due to the more prominent presence of ground almonds, but still has a melting interior similar to that of Felipe II. The top of the Rocambolesc’s polvorón is covered in icing sugar, giving it a lighter feel. The flavour is intense, with a prominent lemon zest taste and a salty, almond finish.

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