Panellets are traditional Catalan sweets made out of a kind of marzipan dough from gluten free and friendly-Paleo ingredients, which are, almond flour, sweet potato, eggs and sugar. Ok, maybe this last one is not Paleo but, hey! you only live once!
They come in many different shapes and flavours, although the traditional ones are covered in pinenuts, but you can also find them with coconut, dried fruits or chocolate to enhance the flavour.
As I mentioned in my pumpkin bread recipe post, Halloween is not celebrated in Spain, instead, we celebrate All-Saints day, or Castanyada, as it's called in Catalonia, (November 1st) eating these panellets, which in Catalan means literally, “little bread”, alongside baked sweet potatoes and chestnuts.
The tradition of cooking panellets not only is it carried out at home, but children are also taught to cook them in school.
Every year, around this time, most primary school’s organise a competition on who can make the best panellets. The cooking day is, normally, the Thursday before the 1st of November. Every classroom forms small groups of 5 or 6 children to make the panellets as a group. Then, the next day, it is when the sweets are tasted by everyone and after a voting, the winning group is announced .
I have so many nice memories of my childhood making these little cakes in my primary school. My classmates and I looked forward to the cooking day all very excited. A week before everyone was asked to bring an ingredient from the recipe. So, one might brought almond flour, another one sweet potato or sugar, another pine-nuts and so on. But the hardest mission, without doubt, was baking the panellets, a task that it used to be chosen by the teacher randomly. Now, I understand the reason. Such a big responsibility!
So, when I was 11 years old, I was first elected to bake the panellets. I would swear that I heard my mum saying: “oh, sh*t”, when she saw me coming out from the school carrying the panellets tray.
So below I’m going to explain what happened that night and exactly what you, whether you are a mummy or not, should NOT to do.
When my mum and I got home, she told me:
-Right, I'm going to preheat the oven and then put the panellets in, but you will need to keep an eye on them, ok?-How long do they need to be baking for?-About 10 minutes.-Ok! ...
I promise! I was there, in the kitchen... Err... Watching TV... ok, maybe I might have been distracted... so, the biggest catastrophe of the world (for an 11 years old’s girl) happened. All panellets, made by my lovely classmates and I, were completely burnt. None of them could be saved. I was so upset that I couldn’t stop crying thinking that my classmates were going to hate me forever and I would loose them all as friends!!
I felt so guilty that I didn't even think of blaming my mum. After all, I was just a pre-teenager! my mum shouldn’t have left me on my own looking after all those little cakes!!
However, my mum must have felt that it was her responsibility so overwhelmed by a sense of responsibility, she straight away called the local patisserie, where she would buys the our daily bread, and ordered twenty panellets for the next day. Now I’m very aware that she had to leave no stone unturned that night as buying panellets in Catalonia by this time is not like buying a simple pastry. Most of they are made to order as they are delicately home-made and therefore quite expensive. But my mother’s love was so big that in the morning a lovely panellets tray was waiting for me.
By the way, guess who won the competition?
PANELLETS: TRADITIONAL CATALAN SWEETS RECIPE
170 gr. almond flour
150 gr. sweet potato
130 gr. sugar
200 gr. pinenuts
- Place the sweet potatoes in a small saucepan, cover with water and bring to the boil.
- Cook until the sweet potatoes are tender.
- Using a masher, mash the sweets potatoes and let it cool.
- In a large bowl, mix the mashed sweet potato with almond flour and sugar.
- Mix well using your hands.
- Add an egg and continue mixing all the ingredients together until you get a consistent dough.
- Using a teaspoon, scoop to form the dough into balls.
- Then, roll the balls in the pinenuts.
- Separate the yolk egg from the white egg
- Brush the top of each ball with egg yolk
- Preheat the oven to 180*C / 350*F
- Line a baking tray and grease with butter.
- Place the panellets leaving 1 cm between them.
- Bake for about 10 minutes, then grill top for about 3 minutes until golden.
- Serve with a glass of muscatel. Bon apetit!
By Laura - Lau Sunday cooks