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Christmas has officially arrived in Spain, which means there are Christmas lights, markets, and of course, traditional Spanish Christmas desserts!
Spain, like every country, has their very own traditional desserts for Christmas that people eat around this time of year. If you are in Spain around Christmas time, you absolutely must check out these traditional Spanish desserts!
Without a doubt, turrón is the most popular Spanish Christmas dessert. You will find this everywhere around the holidays from supermarkets to candy shops to specific stores that only sell turrón.
Turrón can be traced all the way back to the Moorish civilization in Spain, but turrón as we know it today has been made the same way since the 15th century! It originated in Jijona/Xixona, just north of Alicante in Valencia.
There are traditionally two types of turrón: Jijona (soft) and Alicante (hard).
The hard, Alicante variety of turrón is made from almonds (60%), eggs, honey, and sugar. The soft, Jijona turrón is made from grinding almonds (64%) into a paste and then adding olive oil until it has the consistency of a taffy.
As this is one of the most typical Spanish Christmas desserts, you absolutely need to try it when visiting Spain!
Polvorones are a type of shortbread cookie that are soft and flakey and are popular during the holidays. They are made with milk, flour, sugar, and nuts—again, usually almonds.
Most polvorones are from Andalucia, where they are most common, but you can find them throughout Spain during Christmas time.
These typical Spanish Christmas cookies can be found in different flavors, like cinnamon, lemon, and chocolate. Make sure to try all the flavors to find your favorite!
Another typical Spanish Christmas cookie is the mantecado. It’s similar to the polvorón listed above but is slightly different.
The biggest different between mantecados and polvorones is that mantecados are traditionally made with pig’s lard. However, you can find some vegetarian ones made with old olive oil.
These Spanish Christmas desserts also come in different flavors, like cinnamon, chocolate, lemon, and coconut to name a few.
Mazapán, Marzipan in English, is another very common Spanish Christmas dessert, but its history isn’t as well defined as others.
Some say its origins started in China, while others say it started in Turkey or even southern Spain by the Moors. Wherever it came from, its a delicious dessert in Spain around Christmas.
In Spain, mazapán is most famous in Toledo. There are actually strict guidelines from making it in Toledo, where it has to be made up of at least 50%—you guessed it—almonds! However, they also use egg yolk and sugar to make the final product.
During Christmas time, you can find mazapán beautifully shaped in specific shapes, designs, and even figures. While you can do a short day trip to Toledo from Madrid to get the most famous mazapán, you can also get it elsewhere in Spain, specifically during the holidays.
5. Roscón de Reyes
The last, and perhaps the most celebrated of the Spanish Christmas desserts, is the Roscón de Reyes, or Three Kings Cake.
It is typically eaten on January 6th, or el día de los Reyes Magos, when Spaniards gather and celebrate the holiday. This day is actually more celebrated in Spain than Christmas Day, December 25th.
The roscón de Reyes is a ring-shaped cake that is said to symbolize a crown that the three kings/wise men wore. The cake is a sweet bread that is sliced in half, filled with whipped cream, and is topped with dried fruits.
There’s also a little tradition that goes along with it too!
Inside each roscón de Reyes are two small, hidden objects. One is a bean, and the other is a small figurine, usually one of the kings or a baby Jesus. As tradition goes, if you get the piece with the bean, you have to pay for the cake. However, if you get the figurine, you will have good luck for the next year!
While most of Kings’ cakes are fairly large and intended to feed a family gathering for the holiday, you can find smaller one in some bakeries throughout Spain!
While not exactly a Spanish Christmas dessert, castañas, chestnuts, are a clear sign that winter, and the holiday season, are coming in Spain.
Around the beginning of December, you will start to see little castaña stands pop up in cities throughout Spain selling roasted chestnuts.
If you’re feeling like eating something typical of Spanish Christmas, but want to avoid desserts after all the sugar you just consumed eating the above Christmas desserts, get some castañas and consider it a traditional Spanish Christmas food!