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A treat from mi Suegra for her Son for Christmas
Mantecados are a very traditional Spanish Christmas treat.  They come individually wrapped in dainty white and red tissue paper, a bowl full on the sideboard is a real symbol of the season. The best best way I can describe them is looking like a very pale, thick, shortbread round. Yet in texture they are unusual as they sort of crumble in your mouth. If you take too big a bite of a bakery bought one (try saying that after some nice Spanish sherry) you wont be able to speak for a few seconds. They are Mr Gingerbread's favourite. Not living in Spain they are impossible to get hold of here so a cooking adventure beckoned.

Much Youtube viewing, Google-ing, an in depth conversation con mi Suegra (Spanish Mother-in-law), some time with my Spanish Dictionary, a session with a conversion tables website 'and a Partridge in a pear tree' we have our first attempt. Some lessons learned later and the next batches were much closer to the intended outcome. The main problem was all the recipes I found used American Cups measures and made a huge batch. As it's a 2 egg recipe I halved it and made smaller batches until I was happy with the technique.

Makes 60
1 cup lard – 225g
1/2 cup olive oil – 125ml
3/4 cup sugar - 168g
2 egg yolks - retain the white for glazing
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon anise extract - I used Sambuca liqueur
1 grated lemon rind
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 1/2 cups flour - 440g


Pop the chopped lard into large bowl. 'Cream' with an electric hand mixer. Pour in the olive oil and mix until the two are combined.
Add the egg yolks, sugar, anise extract, lemon rind, lemon juice and cinnamon and mix well. Gently add the flour and baking powder. This gives a bread crumb type consistency.

Dip your hands in flour and then use your finger tips to combine the crumbs to make a ball. Now you have two options.
Method 1 (sliced) and Method 2 (rolled)
Roll the dough into a cylinder of the diameter Mantecados you want to make. Approximately 4 cms. You might want to quarter the dough and make 4 cylinders for ease of handling.  Wrap in cling film and chill for half an hour. Once chilled remove the cling.
1. Slice into 2 to 3cm discs and arrange on a lined baking tray. These spread less and take slightly less cooking time.
2. Take 'walnut' sized pieces of dough and roll swiftly into balls. Flatten each one slightly to form the biscuit and arrange on a lined baking tray. These spread more (possibly due to extra handling) and take slightly more cooking time.

If you want a more golden outcome glaze the tops with some of the leftover egg white.
Left picture is the sliced method, right hand the rolled.

Mi Suegra said to bake at 170ºC for approximately 20 minutes.  In my fan assisted oven 12 minutes and 160ºC was perfect. These are very delicate and crumbly  - best left to cool on the baking tray. Enjoy.

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