{4} Panellets de Membrillo

You may (or, more likely, may not) wonder how I come up with my ideas for festive baking. In some cases, I’ve featured recipes from my travels. In other cases, it’s a simply case of typing something into Google, and seeing what comes up. I took the latter route to find today’s little treats. I’m just kicking myself it took me so long to find these little gems!

Panellets are almond confections that originate from Catalonia in Spain, the name meaning “little breads” in Catalan. They are incredibly easy to make – you just mix sugar, ground almonds and egg to make a simple marzipan, and then you can pretty much let your imagination run wild. They can be made with a range of flavours – rolled in nuts, made with chocolate or coffee, or filled with some sort of jam. One very popular and attractive version involves rolling balls of marzipan in egg white, rolling in pine nuts, and then brushing with egg white. The result looks superb, very much like Italian pignoli.

In the spirit of keeping this recipe very Spanish, I’ve flavoured these biscuits with membrillo, the classic quince paste eaten with Manchego cheese. It has a good, aromatic, fruity flavour, which is strong enough to balance the almond flavour of the biscuit. From what I have been able to work out, the traditional way to make these panellets de membrillo is to encase strips of membrillo in marzipan, then cut into slices. I just, well, didn’t bother, and went with a much simpler idea. This is the same technique for making thumbprint cookies, except you fill the dips with jam and bake it.

panellets

These biscuits are absolutely delicious, and I’m only sorry that I never saw them when I was in Barcelona last year! The next time I’m in that part of the world, I will definitely look out for a shop selling the full range!

The flavour is good, and the membrillo in the middle looks great and balances the nuttiness beautifully. If you’re not a quince fan, then go with something else equally bold – tangy marmalade, damson jam or candied cherries on top. Oh, but one little word of warning – paneletts have legal protection about how they are made and the ingredients they use. So if you’re making these for a bring-and-buy or flogging them in a cafe, be careful what you call them – imagine the shame of being arrested over a Christmas biscuit!

To make Panellets de Membrillo (makes 12):

• 170g ground almonds
• 130g icing sugar, plus extra to bind
• 1 medium egg, beaten
• 1/4 teaspoon almond extract, to taste
• caster sugar, to roll
• membrillo (quince paste)

1. Make the almond paste. Mix the almonds and icing sugar. Grind in a food processor to get the mixture as fine as possible. Mix with the beaten egg and almond extract, working to a smooth dough (you might need to add a few more tablespoons of icing sugar). Cover and leave to rest overnight.

2. Preheat the oven to 220°C (420°F) and line a baking tray with greaseproof paper.

3. Roll out the almond mixture into a long sausage. Cut into twelve equal pieces. Form each one into a ball, then roll in the caster sugar.  Arrange on the baking tray and flatten slightly. Use the end of a wooden spoon to make a dip in the centre of each biscuits.

4. Mash the membrillo into a paste, then fill the dips in each biscuits. Bake the panellets for 8-10 minutes until they are golden around the edges but not dark. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.

Worth making? These biscuits are super-easy to make and the results are delicious! You can also adapt them really easily with different fillings on top, so a nice way to provide lots of flavours for minimal effort. The perfect cookie for the harassed Christmas cook!

8 Comments

Filed under Christmas, Recipe, Sweet Things

8 responses to “{4} Panellets de Membrillo

  1. It’s a very nice version of “our” panellets -I’m catalan!😉 – If you really want to try them you should come to visit us around “la Castanyada”, the autumn party we celebrate on final october or the first of November (Dia de Tots Sants). The “panellets” are the traditional catalan cakes for this festivity (it’s not a Spanish thing, they don’t really make or eat them). It’s funny how we all use to celebrate the same kind of festivities in such a different ways, right?

    • Glad that I have the stamp of approval from an expert😉 I should perhaps have spotted that they are not Spanish – I’m from Scotland, and there are many Christmas and New Year traditions that we do which are not common in the rest of Britain. I served these at the weekend with some Christmas drinks, they were one of the first things to vanish completely, clearly they are a hit in London!

  2. These sound delicious. i think I’ll try them for Christmas! Thanks!

    • Hi Kerry – glad you like them, they were delicious and one of the first things to completely vanish from my drinks party at the weekend. I think they would look beautiful with a large plate with different jam flavours (raspberry, quince, blackberry, apple, orange…).

      • Russell, I also really liked the idea of rolling them in pignoli nuts; we are Italian! I’m actually going to the supermarket today to pick up the ingredients, I’ll let you know how they turn out. I also wanted to let you know that I LOVE your website. It’s really a great subject and your content and look of your website is terrific. Just this week I created my own wordpress website at http://www.trustingtraveler.com My goal is to provide families everything they need to enjoy a life rich in culture and travel. My interest in your website is of course food, since it plays such a big part in cultures. I am about to add a link to your site under my “other worthwhile links” page. I hope that is okay with you. I’ll do that now. I hope you approve.

        • Hi Kerry – glad you like this recipe, and good to hear that you are trying it out! Good luck with the pine nuts version – do let me know how it works!

          Thanks for adding a link on your site – very happy to do that, and I hope that some of the content is interesting to your visitors (and I’m glad I’m deemed “worthwhile”!!!).

  3. Your membrillo put to great use!🙂 I love the almond flavors from the extract and ground almond. Big almond fan here.🙂 Sort of like a marzipan meets membrillo galleta.🙂 Best – Shanna

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