These are the most crumbly and moreish cookies that you are ever going to eat! Mantecados are cookies that originate from Spain, and are often interchangeable with another Spanish cookie, POLVORONES-However, whilst Mantecados are baked all year round,Polvorones are baked specifically at Christmas and follow a variation in recipe..
250 grams of Lard(You could use Butter or Margarine.)
300 grams of Self-Raising Flour
100 grams of Whole Almonds-Skinned, Roasted and Ground
125 grams of Icing Sugar(Powdered Confectioners Sugar)-And some reserved, for dusting onto the cookies when they are cooked
Pinch of Salt
Teaspoon of Vanilla Extract
1 1/2 Teaspoons of Cinnamon(Optional)
Traditionally, the dough for a Mantecado is supposed to be a dry dough..Meaning that it shouldn’t contain water. However, I have used a slightly different method and it goes like this: Firstly, pour hot water over the almonds, and leave them to soak for 15 minutes. Strain off the water, and using your thumb and forefinger, and gently slide the skin off the almond, by pushing the skin between the fingers. Reserve the almond and discard of the skin. Put the almonds on a baking tray, and bake on 200 degrees for about 10 minutes, turning occasionally, until they are golden brown. Place in a coffee grinder/food processor and grind to a fine crumb or even, a slightly coarse crumb-If preferred.Pour the flour, cinnamon(If using) and icing sugar into a bowl and cut a block of lard into the flour. The lard should have been standing at room temperature for at least half an hour. Rub the flour, sugar and lard together, crumbling the ingredients using the tips of your fingers. The lard should soften even more while you are doing this.
Add the almonds and vanilla extract, and rub together again. Make up about 200mls of warm water, and add some to the dough mixture, just enough to bind the mixture into a dough, and soften the lard. Knead into a ball, which should be smooth and pliable. Break off some of the dough, and flour the surface lightly, and roll the dough out to a desirable thickness(I have made mine thin, but you could make the dough thicker.). Use cookie cutters and place the cookies in a teflon coated baking tray. Bake on 150 degrees, for upto 15 minutes or until deep golden brown. Allow to cool and then sieve the reserved icing over the cookies. This made 34 cookies and keeps in a cookie tin for upto a month. But because they are so moreish, you won’t be able to resist them and they will be gone in no time! Enjoy!.
**Option 2:Beat the lard until soft and foamy. Another step to follow is to toast the flour in the oven, until golden brown. Add to the lard and other ingredients and resume the other steps of the recipe.This is the traditional way to start making Mantecados.