These little cakes are from Catalunya and other parts of Spain like Andorra, Ibiza and Valencia. Panellets actually translates as ‘little breads’ and they’re a traditional dessert on All Saints Day which is known here as la Castanyada ‘chestnut time’! Panellets are commonly made of ground almonds and sugar with the most popular and expensive covered in pine nuts but there are many varieties in supermarkets or pâtisseries, like chocolate, coconut or coffee. Many families gather round the table to make them together during this time. Some years ago we made them with my international flatmates under a Catalan friend’s guidance, and discovered they were easy and fun to make! These are my healthier panellets made with ground almonds and maple syrup or honey, flavoured with orange or lemon zest then covered in pine nuts. This is a repost of my original article but with an improved recipe, new clearer illustrations and ideas for yummy variations. Of course you can make these little glutenfree Catalan energy balls any time of the year! Have the more classic pine nut panellets…
… or a nice little selection.
Tempted to make some? It’s soooo easy. Great for making with kids!
RECIPE – makes around 10-12 panellets.
They’re adapted from panellets by May I have that Recipe? You can add your own flavourings instead of lemon or orange. Check out the variations later in the recipe.
Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F (static oven) or 160°C/320°F (fan oven).
- 30-40g beaten egg for the cookie dough + 20g for brushing the panellets (1 small-medium sized, free-range)
- 40g/2 tbsp pure maple syrup (or honey)
- 75g to 150g/3/4 to 1 and 1/2 cups ground almonds
- 1 tsp finely-grated lemon or orange zest, to taste
- other optional flavourings (see variations below)
Maple syrup is delicious while honey makes then more moist. The quantity of sweetener or egg you use depends on how dry your ground almonds are so please be flexible. You want a soft cookie dough that’s not too dry but moist enough to hold together and roll into a ball (but not ridiculously loose). Start with a lesser quantity of ground almonds and see if you need to add more.
Method (printable recipe to click on)
Notes: Don’t overbake or they’ll get too dry. In some homemade versions boiled potato or sweet potato is added and this apparently adds moisture. But a chef pâtissier advised against this sayin they’re just money-saving fillers.
Cherry and coconut: knead a little dessicated coconut into the cookie dough, to taste. Flatten a little into a thumbprint cookie shape and top each panellet with half a glacé cherry.
Jam: shape as for thumbprint cookies, making an indent with your thumb or the handle of a wooden spoon. Spoon in a little jam (careful, it can overflow).
Ginger and almond: add finely chopped crystallised or stem ginger to the dough. Roll in flaked or chopped blanched almonds.
These treats keep a week or two stored at room temperature in an airtight container.
A short sweet history
Panellets date back to at least the 18th century when apparently they were used as blessed food to share after religious celebrations. They might represent little breads that were left as offerings in church or at relatives’ gravesides. During All Saints Day families would visit cemetaries or pray all night in remembrance of the dead while usually eating sustaining food like panellets, chestnuts and sweet potatoes now also traditionally eaten on Oct 31 and Nov 1 during la Castanyada.
You can accompany panellets with a little glass of sweet Moscatel wine by the way.
I have fond memories of making these sweet treats with flatmates and going with mum, who was visiting, to a panellets workshop. A few years ago on Nov 1st a climbing friend brought some to the rock, as did I. They’re great climbing food! 🙂
Not just for la Castanyada
So might make these refined sugar-free treats all year round as an energy snack!
Or with a nice cup of tea at home?
Hmmm, which ones would you like? Something to sweeten the troubled times we’re living in wishing for just resolutions in Catalunya. And let’s not dwell on the whole sad Brexit debacle but reach for one of these instead…
Still hope you’re having a great autumn having a lovely weekend and looking forward to fun festivities! Happy baking and eating stuff from all around the world! 🙂 Lili x
P.S. Am having a pie craving after watching the latest Great British Bake Off episode! Might make my Moroccan Chicken Pie (link here) again but feeling chicken (lol) about making the pastry so will probably use filo pastry again.;)