1. TurrónThis delicious candy bar of Moorish origin has been popular for centuries. There are many different kinds of turrón that occupy entire walls in any Spanish supermarket in the weeks leading up to Christmas Day.
Don’t miss out on the Jijona (Xixona) or Alicante varieties. Hard Alicante (or turrón duro) is a thick, brittle mass of eggs, honey, sugar and almonds, that miraculously come together to create a crunchy almond nougat candy.
Jijona (or turrón blando) is a ground almond paste. The addition of olive oil softens it so it has a smooth consistency similar to taffy. Other varieties include chocolate, raisins with rum, whiskey, truffles, coffee, fruits, etc. Turrón really is one of the essential Spanish Christmas sweets.
2. PolvorónPolvorones are shortbread cookies famous for their crumbly consistency. Spaniards traditionally make them with flour, sugar, milk and nuts. They are also found in a variety of flavors (vanilla, cinnamon, lemon, etc).
They have a subtle, distinct melt-in-your-mouth texture, hence their Spanish name of “powdery cake.” You can find the best polvorones in Spain’s southern region of Andalusia. One bite and you’ll realize why the recipe hasn’t changed for centuries!
3. MantecadosSimilar to polvorones, these light and crumbly cookies are made from manteca (pig lard) and lots of sugar! They come in many flavors but the most typical are cinnamon and aniseed.
Two towns in Andalusia, Antequera and Estepa, both lay claim to first producing these delightful delicacies. You can spot them wrapped in brightly colored cellophane in the Spanish dessert boxes at Christmas—you can’t miss them!
4. MarzipanToledo is only a short day trip from Madrid and is the Spanish capital of mazapán (Marzipan sweets). A pasty blend of almonds, egg yolk and sugar, Marzipan is always one of the most popular Spanish Christmas sweets at the table.
Madrid shows off its homemade marzipan in creative shapes and figurines in its store windows. They make such beautiful decorations that you almost hesitate to eat them!