Wrapped in beautiful tissue paper, these powdery confections, not quite cookies, come from Andalusia in Spain. They are popular throughout Latin American, especially during the Christmas holidays, sometimes flavored with cocoa powder. You may know a derivative version, Mexican wedding cookies, but the name polvorones, from the word for dust (“pulverized”) has more character, as does this recipe, adapted from Teresa Barrenechea’s The Cuisines of Spain (Ten Speed Press, 2005). Makes about 30 polvorones.
2 cups (about 10 ounces) raw almonds, skins on
3 cups flour
2 cups confectioners’ sugar + more for dusting
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 pound lard (2 cups) at room temperature
Preheat the oven to 300°. Spread the almonds on a rimmed baking sheet and toast, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Let them cool completely.
Spread the flour on another rimmed baking sheet and toast for 5 minutes, until very pale golden. Transfer the flour into a bowl and let it cool completely.
Put the almonds in a food processor with 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar. Process to grind the nuts finely, watching to see they don’t turn oily. Put the ground nuts in a large bowl with the rest of the confectioners’ sugar. Mix in the flour and cinnamon. Gradually stir in the lard, a little at a time. Cover the bowl and chill for 2 hours or more.
Preheat the oven to 250°. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Between the palms of your hands, form the chilled dough into 2-inch-wide disks ½-inch thick. Lay them on the sheets and bake for 45 minutes, rotating the sheets once midway. The polvorones should not color. Let them cool completely, then dust them in more confectioners’ sugar. Wrap each in a thin square of tissue paper, twisting the two ends. Store them in air-tight cookie tins.