Today Melanie shares a recipe for a Spanish favorite, mantecados. These traditional shortbread cookies are popular around the holidays, but delicious all year round!
Mantecados are one of Spain’s favorite sweet treats. They are super simple to make and a tasty crowd pleaser for any occasion. Mantecados are typically enjoyed during the winter and at Christmastime in Spain, but that doesn’t mean they can’t make an appearance year-round!
Mantecados are small shortbread sugar cookies that require just a few ingredients and very little time to prepare. The name mantecados comes from the Spanish word manteca, which means fat or lard. Here I’ve translated this ingredient to mean vegetable shortening, which helps provide the proper texture and consistency for the otherwise crumbly shortbread cookie. In Spain, pork fat is used (manteca de cerdo), which is an option if you have it available.
Spain’s rich history related to mantecados includes hundreds of years of cookie preparation using the fat or lard from pigs near the city of Estepa. Estepa, located near Seville in Southern Spain, is known as the “city of mantecados” (la ciudad del mantecado). Near the end of the nineteenth century, the cookies were prepared by drying them out to help maintain their qualities for consumption. This preparation technique helped market the cookies more widely beyond Estepa and into other cities in Southern Spain.
See the mantecados recipe below to give them a try yourself!
Spanish Mantecados Recipe
- 1 cup of soft butter or vegetable shortening (you can also use traditional pork lard if you want)
- ½ cup of light olive oil
- 1 cup of white sugar
- 1 lemon peel (grated)
- 2 teaspoons of lemon juice (tip: use the same lemon that you zest)
- 1 egg (beaten)
- 2 cups of flour (tip: for a gluten-free option, try almond flour)
- ½ teaspoon of baking soda
- ½ cup of almond halves (optional)
- Preheat oven to 325°F
- Wash the lemon, and zest it. Once you have collected all zest from the lemon, set it aside. Then, cut the lemon into two halves. Set the halves aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, whip the vegetable shortening or butter by hand or with a hand mixer. Once whipped, add in the olive oil.
- Next, add in the sugar to the vegetable shortening and olive oil mix. Continue mixing these three ingredients together until the texture is smooth.
- Add into the mixture the egg and lemon zest. Squeeze the juice of one of the lemon halves into the mixture.
- Continue mixing all ingredients together. Once the mixture is again smooth in texture, add in the dry ingredients including the flour and baking soda. Mix all ingredients together.
- Lastly, fold in a ½ cup of almond halves if desired.
- Using a teaspoon or your hands, make small balls with the dough. Place the small dough balls onto a greased cookie sheet.
- Press down on each small dough ball to help flatten it before baking.
- Bake the cookies for about 15-20 minutes until they turn light brown in color. Allow the cookies to cool before serving, and serve delicately so that they do not crumble!
- If the dough mixture is too dry, try adding some milk to thicken it. If the dough mixture is too runny, try adding some additional flour.
Have you ever tried Spanish mantecados? What is your favorite Spanish treat?