Saturday, December 1, 2007
The Dustiest of Desserts
Dust. It's everywhere: your house, the atmosphere, the cosmos. According to Wikipedia (or, as I like to call it, the word of God), household dust is comprised primarily of dead human skin cells. Appetizing? Not particularly. But if you're Spanish, I suspect that your answer might be, is it ever!
The Spanish have invented a cookie called a polvorone--polvo meaning dust. The polvorone is a holiday classic, originally hailing from the dry and dusty region of Andalucia in the south of Spain. In the days leading up to Christmas, polvorones are available in giant bags in supermarkets across Barcelona and, in superior artisanal form, in many Barcelona bakeries.
Contrary to popular belief, polvorones are actually made of flour, almond meal and lard, not dust. However, they are undeniably dusty. So much so that, in order to prevent total disintegration, they come individually wrapped and must be squeezed with some force into a cohesive ball before being unwrapped and consumed. Eating them also provokes the same parched sensation that you might develop on a trek through the desert. The desert is actually more sandy than dusty, I would think. But that's neither here nor there. Suffice it to say that you need to be well kitted out with liquids before attempting either of a desert trek or a dessert polvorone.
Polvorones are traditionally served as part of a Christmas plate containing turrones (see No Ordinary Nougat) and peladillas (coming next week). Really, with a good cup of tea or coffee or a glass of liqueur, they're not half bad. Better than fruitcake, in any event.
(Disclaimer: I have never trekked through the desert.)