This blog post was originally posted on December 1, 2015 and was updated on December 13, 2017.
The holidays are a great time to visit Malaga—the weather is mild and there are plenty of sunny days to spend exploring the city. There’s lots to do in Malaga at Christmas, but it’s the sweets that make the city one of the best European winter destinations. Here are seven of the top holiday sweets in Malaga and where to find them.
7 Delicious Holiday Sweets in Malaga
1. Roscos de Vino
These little sweets look like miniature doughnuts, but they actually have more of a cookie texture. Made with Malaga’s signature sweet wine, the crumbly cookies are then covered in a sugar glaze so that they are golden brown on the inside and a pure white outside.
Roscos de vino are one of the first things that comes to mind when thinking of holiday sweets in Malaga. They come wrapped in wax paper, usually with a local company’s name stamped across it. You can find them at the grocery store or any specialty food shop, but there’s something special about the ones sold at La Mallorquina (Plaza de Félix Sáenz, 7).
The name for these holiday sweets comes from the word “borracho” (which means drunk), so these are “drunken cookies.” Of course, in this case, they are drunk with cinnamon and sugar or honey rather than alcohol!
Borrachuelos look like pestiños (more on those in a bit), but are filled with a sweet filling made with either pumpkin or sweet potato jam. The folded cookies are then coated in honey or cinnamon and sugar, and then they’re ready to be devoured.
You can find these at any bakery or pastry shop in Málaga, but one local favorite is La Canasta (Plaza de la Constitución).
Pestiños are similar to the borrachuelos, but instead of a filling, these cookies get a lot of their flavor from the spices used to bake them. The dough is made with anise, cloves, cinnamon and sweet wine, and it has a texture more similar to puff pastry than to regular cookie dough.
You wrap the dough around your finger to form the shape and then fry it in extra virgin olive oil (which is the best oil to use for frying!) After the pestiño has been fried, you can coat it in cinnamon and sugar or honey, similar to the borrachuelos. You’ll find these holiday sweets right next to the borrachuelos at any bakery or pastry shop in Malaga.
4. Polvorones and Mantecados
There’s always a lot of confusion about the difference between polvorones and mantecados in Spain. Both are excessively crumbly, soft cookies. The polvorones are a type of mantecado made with almonds but with a slightly more oval shape. However, the basic cookie is the same.
In the town of Antequera in Malaga, they make something called a “double mantecado.” You’ll see malagueños squeeze these cookie before unwrapping them from the white wax paper so that they don’t fall apart before taking a bite! You can find polvorones and mantecados in any grocery or specialty grocery store. It’s one of the most popular holiday sweets in Malaga!
This is one of the most famous holiday sweets throughout Spain. Turrón is a bar of nougat and almonds at its core, but there are several traditional flavors including chocolate and almond. Each year, though, you’ll also see interesting new flavors such as gin and tonic, bubble gum, and blackberry. There is something for every sweet tooth, and the bars themselves come in a hard or soft variety.
You can find turrón at most grocery stores and pastry shops, but you’ll find the best at Casa Mira (Calle Marqués de Larios, 5). This is the same Casa Mira store that is famous in Madrid for its turrón. One of the brothers opened a shop in Malaga, and it’s one of the best known spots to buy traditional turrón. You can even enjoy a turrón flavored ice cream if it’s a nice day!
6. Bolitas de Coco
Bolitas de coco are just what they sound like: little coconut balls! These holiday sweets couldn’t be easier to make, and if you like coconut, they’re a must.
You can find them either coated with more coconut or covered in chocolate. Either way, it’s a delicious sweet that you can find any place where you would buy mantecados, polvorones or turrón.
Make it: This chocolate coconut balls recipe will bring Malaga to your home!
7. Roscón de Reyes
The roscón de reyes is a cake that looks like a huge doughnut. It is a dry pastry topped with candied fruit, and often filled with vanilla or chocolate whipped cream.
It’s a tradition to buy a roscón de reyes the night before the Three Kings arrive. On the evening of January 5, Spanish families share the cake searching to see who get the hidden lima bean. This person traditionally would have to pay for the cake! Sometimes the roscón also has little toys hidden in the frosting for the kids.
Locals also love having a little slice of roscón de reyes the next morning with their coffee, too. This is one of the most beloved holiday sweets in Malaga (and across Spain). You can find them at any pastry shop in Malaga.
Indulge your sweet tooth: The best bakeries and pastry shops in Malaga