This is a Catalan treat we prepare for All Saint's day. You can find them in every bakery in Catalonia during the last week of October. The base for these cookies is made with ground almond meal, it´s basically marzipan, but in my family we have always added a bit of potato, for texture. You can ground the almonds yourself in a food processor but you have to blanch them and remove the skins beforehand.
The traditional panellets are covered with pine nuts, but these days next to them you can find many other flavors. Here I enclose the coconut version as well, but you could also make them covered with almonds, with coffee, chocolate, strawberry and quince!
The measurements are for a big batch, we only make these once a year so there needs to be loads to invite friends and family for a few days!
I love panellets because it means autumn is here, with its mild cold temperatures, the roasted chestnuts, sweet potatoes and sweet wine drunk by the fire.
I hope you enjoy these!
almond meal (Marcona ideally)
boiled potato or sweet potato
zest of half a lemon (optional)
For the different types of panellets:
european pine nuts (Pinus Pinata)
dessicated coconut (optional)
other optional ingredients: candied cherries, instant coffee, cocoa powder...
In a large bowl, mash the potato with a fork and mix with the sugar and almond meal until it becomes a homogeneous paste and it comes off the sides of the bowl. Form a ball and cover the bowl, let sit for 2 hours or overnight.
Shape the ball into more of a log and beat the egg in shallow bowl.
For the pine nut cookies: place your pine nuts in a plate or bowl. Take small pieces from the dough and make little round balls. Place them in the egg bowl and rotate so they are wet all around and quickly put it on the dish with the pine nuts. With the palm of your hand, rotate the ball so the pine nuts stick to the dough. It is okay if the round shape squashes a little bit, you can fix it later. To fill in the spaces without nuts, grab some with your hands and press them against the cookie ball, it might take a bit of practice but they should stick nicely.
If you are using asian pine nuts they might be harder to get to stick because they tend to be bigger and might criss-cross.
For the coconut cookies: place the dessicated coconut in a plate. Take small pieces of the dough and form little balls and place them on the pate with beaten egg and the dessicated coconut afterwards. Roll them with the palm of your hands so they are completely covered. With your fingers, pinch the top of the ball upwards to create piramidal shape. Add more coconut to the top pressing with your fingers.
To make other variations, add a candied cherry to a flattened cookie ball, or add some instant coffee or cocoa powder to the dough.
Brush each different type of panellet with beathen egg, specially the pine nut ones, and pop in a preheated oven to a high temperature of 200-250C. Bake for 6-8 minutes until golden. Do not overbake.