That year I made an assortment of white and dark chocolate peppermint bark, coconut macaroons, espresso chocolate truffles, and spiced nuts, which I then packed up and brought to NJ with me via Amtrak.
Since then, I've made everything from Italian rainbow cookies, from-scratch rum cake, and even some fancy quince and frangipane tarts that were a big hit, but a big pain in the but to make.
This year he wanted to go with Puerto Rican themed treats and asked me to make 20 bottles (11 liters total) of coquito and 20 bags of polverones, which are a kind of buttery almond shortbread originally form Spain, but now popular throughout Latin America.
The reason this cookie is so popular is because it's incredible easy to make, and it keeps well--so it can be made in advance (ideal for celebrations and gift-giving). (Also, it's delicious! Buttery, crumbly, melts in your mouth, with just a touch of crunch from those almonds. Amazing!)
My version here is made with almonds, because they're my favorite, but you can also make them with pistachios, walnuts, pecans, macadamia nuts, hazelnuts, or really just about any nut (or combination of nuts) that you'd like. I actually made a pistachio version to offer on the dessert table at my wedding earlier this year (more about that next month).
Anyway, I hope you enjoy these cookies! In case you'd like to give these as a holiday gift, I've included a free printable PDF for the labels below.
P.S. Want more Puerto Rican Christmas recipes? Check out my eCookbook: The Puerto Rican Christmas Table with 40+ recipes and full-color photos. Click here to learn more!
CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD FREE PRINTABLE PDF LABELS FOR DIY GIFTS
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Polvorones (Puerto Rican Almond Shortbread Cookies)
Makes about 2 dozen
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup granulated white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups flour
1 cup coarsely ground almonds
1/2 cup powdered sugar, for dusting cookies
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In the base of a mixer, beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy--about 3 minutes. Add the extracts and salt, and beat for another 30 seconds. Lower the mixer to the lowest setting, and slowly add the flour letting it mix until it is all completely worked in. Add the almonds and let mix until completely incorporated.
Use a cookie scoop or your hands to form round balls out of the dough, each about 1 tablespoon in size. Arrange on the cookie sheet 1 inch apart. Once you have filled the cookie sheet, place it in the refrigerator to chill for 15 to 30 minutes. Once chilled, place in the oven and bake for about 20 minutes, or until the cookes are completely baked, golden brown on the bottom, but still pale on top. Let them cool on the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to a rack to completely cool.
Toss the cooled cookies in the powdered sugar and serve or store with extra powdered sugar in an air-tight container. Will keep well for about 5 days. Dough can also be frozen and baked later.