Pan de Polvo

Pan de Polvo

December 4: National Cookie Day

At the various cookie exchange parties that Islander attends around this time of the year in South Texas, one cookie that is almost always present is pan de polvo, a type of Mexican shortbread with a dusting of cinnamon-sugar. These sweet treats have a crumbly texture that make them so irresistibly tasty that it is impossible to eat just one!

For those who plan to bake a batch of pan de polvo for a cookie exchange, this recipe is ideal because the cinnamon-anise tea can be used at least three times; tripling the dough recipe yields beyond a dozen of a baker’s dozen! These cookies are easy to make for a crowd, whether for cookie exchanges, Christmas, Advent, weddings, special holidays and especially for National Cookie Day.

Recipe

(Adapted from Eva Longoria in InStyle.com)

For the cinnamon-anise tea

  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 teaspoon anise seeds
  • ¾ – 1 cup water

For the cookie dough

  • 2 ¼ cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup vegetable shortening, butter-flavored
  • ½ – 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (we used Mexican vainilla)
  • ½ cup sugar

For the topping

  • ½ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup ground cinnamon

Directions

In a small saucepan, boil the cinnamon sticks and anise seeds in water for about five minutes. Remove from the stovetop and cool to room temperature. Strain over a sieve and refrigerate until ready to use the cinnamon-anise tea in the dough.

Pan de Polvo

In a bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside. In a larger bowl, cream the shortening with the vanilla extract and sugar.  Pour in ¼ cup chilled cinnamon-anise tea and mix well.

Pan de Polvo

Gradually add the flour mixture and blend until the dough sticks together. Form into a ball and refrigerate for about 15-30 minutes for easier handling. Pinch out 1-inch balls and roll until smooth. Place on a greased cookie sheet about two inches apart. Bake in a preheated oven at 325 degrees F for 20 minutes or until the cookies are lightly browned on the edges.

Pan de Polvo

Meanwhile, make the topping. While the cookies are still warm and moist, immediately roll them in the cinnamon-sugar. Place the cookies in a shallow container and seal until ready to serve.

Pan de Polvo

Notes

  • There is enough cinnamon-anise tea to use in three batches of cookie dough. Each batch yields approximately 4-4 ½ dozen cookies (3×4.5=13.5 dozen or more than 160 pan de polvo). Double the amount for the cinnamon-sugar topping if making many cookies.
  • Related cookies are Mexican wedding cookies and crescent cookies.
  • Search our blog for other cookie recipes.

Aloha Cookies

Aloha Cookies

December 4:
National Cookie Day

At a neighborhood cookie exchange on the mainland, Islander wanted to share a taste of the tropics and brought Aloha Cookies. The ingredients are truly tropical with pineapple pieces and coconut flakes mixed in the dough.

Along with the extra Aloha Cookies she baked, she collected a variety of other cookies from neighbors at the cookie exchange and then sent them overseas to U.S. Air Force personnel to enjoy for the holidays. The recipient is Airman Darby F. and his flight serving in the Azores. Not only does she wish Mele Kalikimaka to mainland friends, she sends aloha abroad with these tropical treats for the troops.

Kick off National Cookie Day and the holiday baking season with Aloha Cookies.

Recipe

(Adapted from C&H Sugar)

Ingredients

  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • ½ cup vegetable shortening
  • ¾ cup  sugar, granulated white
  • ¾ cup brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla
  • ½ teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 cup instant mashed potato flakes
  • 2 ½ cups flour (not self raising)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ cups dried pineapple, chopped
  • 1 1/3 cups coconut, flaked

Directions

In a mixer or large mixing bowl, cream the butter and shortening with both sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs.

Aloha Cookies

Add the vanilla and almond extracts. Stir in the mashed potato flakes. In another bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and salt.

Aloha Cookies

Gradually add this to the butter mixture and combine until a dough is formed. Fold in the chopped pineapple pieces and flaked coconut. Roll into a large, smooth ball. Cover the dough and chill for at least an hour.

Aloha Cookies

Scoop out one-inch balls and place on an ungreased cookie sheet about two inches apart. Bake in a preheated oven at 375 degrees F for 15 minutes until golden brown. Remove from the oven. Cool for about five minutes on the cookie sheet until transferring to a wire rack. Yield: 6 dozen (enough to feed a flight of airmen or share at a cookie exchange)

Aloha Cookies

Notes

  • Airman Darby F. is the son of our often-mentioned friend, Lisa L., who herself is in the U.S. Naval Reserves. We used to send her some treats for the troops when she served overseas as well.
  • Aloha Cookies are not traditionally Hawaiian but the recipe is from California and Hawaii (C&H) Sugar company.
  • Search our blog for more cookie recipes.

Mexican Wedding Cookies

Mexican Wedding Cookies

December 4: National Cookie Day

As marriage sponsors at our church in South Texas, we frequently work with engaged couples who are of Latino descent. At our FOCCUS sessions, we serve “symbolic” snacks—Mexican wedding cookies/cakes. The bizcochitos para bodas are tiny treats that represent fertility (nuts) and a sweet married life (powdered sugar). Not only are the cookies appropriate for wedding-related gatherings but also for upcoming holiday socials and National Cookie Day!

Recipe

(Adapted from “Viva el Amor: The Latino Wedding Planner”)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened (we used a local mantequilla)
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla (we used Mexican vainilla)
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups finely chopped nuts (we used pecans, which grow abundantly in our area)
  • 1-2 cups powdered sugar (for the final coating)

Directions

In a mixer or large mixing bowl, cream the butter with the sugar. Add the vanilla. Gradually stir in the flour with the salt until the cookie dough is smooth. Mix in the nuts until well incorporated. Shape into a large ball, cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Mexican Wedding Cookies

Pinch out 1- 1 ½-inch size balls and place on a lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F for 15 minutes, being careful not to brown the cookies. Remove from the oven and gently roll in powdered sugar. Let the cookies cool and harden on a wire rack. Roll again gently in powdered sugar.

Mexican Wedding Cookies

Notes

  • Mexican wedding cookies/cakes are also known as Russian tea cakes, butterballs, meltaways and snowdrops.
  • Some Mexican wedding cookies/cake recipes call for ground nuts but we prefer ours packed with pecan pieces for a more substantial sweet treat.
  • The cookies are quite crumbly and delicate when hot out of the oven. Be patient and let them cool and harden.
  • Place them in mini white or pastel paper cups or on pretty platters, dessert stands or tiers and serve them at bridal showers, bachelor/bachelorette parties, rehearsal dinners and at the wedding itself. Or package the cookies creatively as festive favors.
  • We sometimes sprinkle white edible glitter on top of the cookies to give them an extra sparkle for special occasions.
  • The gold coin box in the photo above has 13 coins to represent Jesus and His 12 apostles. Las arras (earnest money) symbolizes that the newlyweds vow to share their worldly goods with each other for richer or poorer. We incorporated this tradition in our own multicultural wedding ceremony in 1996. Learn more about Latino wedding customs from “Viva el Amor: The Latino Wedding Planner.”

Triple Chocolate Macadamia Nut

Kisses Cookies

Triple Chocolate Macadamia Nut Kisses Cookies

December 4: National Cookie Day

Islander likes to “aloha-fy” regular recipes by using ingredients from Hawaii. For a holiday cookie exchange on the mainland, she wanted to bake a familiar-looking favorite yet subtly share her culture in a cookie.  She decided on “Hawaiian-izing” a chewy chocolate drop cookie studded with chocolate chips/chunks and topped with a chocolate honi (kiss).

While Hershey’s produces a variety of Kisses (classic milk chocolate, special dark chocolate, limited edition fruit flavors, etc.), only in Hawaii are the milk chocolate macadamia nut Kisses available. She adapted the company’s recipe and included sugars (granulated white and golden brown) from C&H (California and Hawaii brand), organic vanilla from the Big Island, finely ground ala’ea (Hawaiian sea salt) and exclusive milk chocolate macadamia nut Kisses from Hershey’s and Mauna Loa to bake this chocolate triple threat “tropical-ized” treat. It was  a crowd pleaser at the holiday cookie exchange, especially with chocoholics.

For National Cookie Day and all the upcoming Kalikimaka (Christmas) related events this month, try baking these triple chocolate macadamia nut Kisses cookies and give the gift of aloha this holiday season.

Recipe

(Adapted from Hershey’s)

Ingredients

  • 3-4 dozen Kisses (we used Hershey’s-Mauna Loa milk chocolate macadamia nut Kisses)
  • ½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened
  • ¾ cup sugar (we used C&H brand, granulated white)
  • ¾ cup brown sugar (we used C&H brand, golden brown)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla (we used Hawaiian Vanilla Company brand)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 2 ¼ cups flour
  • 1/3 cup cocoa (we used Hershey’s brand)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt (we used Hawaiian sea salt, finely ground)
  • 1 cup chocolate chips (we used Hershey’s brand semi-sweet)

Directions

Unwrap the Kisses and set aside. In a medium bowl, mix the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt and set aside. In a large bowl or mixer, cream the butter with the sugars. Add the eggs and vanilla. Gradually stir in the flour mixture and blend well.

Triple Chocolate Macadamia Nut Kisses Cookies

Fold in the chocolate chips/chunks. Roll one-inch balls from the dough. Place about an inch apart from each other on a lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F for 10-12 minutes or until slightly flattened but set.

Triple Chocolate Macadamia Nut Kisses Cookies

Remove the cookies from the oven.  While still hot, gently press a chocolate Kiss onto the center of the cookie. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Triple Chocolate Macadamia Nut Kisses Cookies

Notes

  • Our wedding favors featured Hershey’s “Hugs”—milk chocolate and sweet white cream-swirled Kisses—to represent our mixed marriage.
  • Thanks to Islander’s parents for a care package containing the ala’ea (sea salt) and milk chocolate macadamia nut Kisses from Hawaii. Thanks to Lisa L. for the bottle of Big Island vanilla.
  • During our move to New Jersey from Oklahoma, we drove long distance but made a delicious detour to Hershey, Pennsylvania. Our short stop on “The Sweetest Place on Earth” included a tour of Hershey’s Chocolate World where we rode through a simulated factory and learned how Hershey harvests cocoa beans and processes them into their products, such as chocolate bars, Kisses and more! We enjoyed eating the free samples at the end, of course, and roaming around the candy store. Islander even climbed on the Kissmobile!

Hershey's Chocolate World