Panellets are special marzipan cookies made for All Saints’ Day in Catalonia, Spain. Coated in pine nuts, these sweet little treats—made of sweet potato and almond dough—are small enough to pop into your mouth, yet pack a big enough kick to warrant moderation. Many modern panellet recipes call for instant coffee added to the dough for flavor. We’ve added guarana seeds to our recipe, instead of coffee, for a little additional eye-opener. Used for natural energy drinks in Brazil for centuries, guarana seeds are well known for adding a little pep to your step. For our panellets with guarana, we also walk through how to make your own almond flour at home so you can use it in this gluten-free recipe and many others.
Try this almond cookie recipe that mixes traditional with contemporary and let us know what you think!
Fill a large saucepan with water and bring to boil. Add 2 cups raw almonds into water and boil just long enough to blanch the nuts (about 1 – 2 minutes). As soon as their skin begins to wrinkle, drain the almonds and rinse them in a colander under cold running water. Use your fingers to peel skins from almonds while they are still warm. (Skins can be discarded or dried alongside almonds and ground up for use in other recipes, like smoothies, vegan bacon bits, chutneys or baked goods.)
Lay the almonds in single layer on a paper towel lined baking sheets and allow them to dry completely (anywhere from 4 – 12 hours). Once the almonds have dried completely, transfer half into a food processor.
Pulse for 1 second at a time until the almonds turn into fine powder, scraping the sides with a spatula after every 5 pulses to ensure even grinding. (If you process for too long, you’ll be making almond butter, which works great in other cookie recipes, but we want flour for this one.)
Scrape the almond flour into a bowl and grind the remaining almonds in the same way. Add to bowl and set aside.
Peel the sweet potato and cut into ½ inch chunks. Place chunks into a medium saucepan and add water until it reaches about an inch above the potato. Bring water to a boil and cook over medium until the potato is soft (about 15 minutes). Drain potato and allow to cool.
Crack the eggs and separate the yolk from egg white. Set both aside.
Using a mortar and pestle, grind dried lemon peel into a fine powder. Set aside in a small prep bowl.
Add guarana seed to the mortar and pestle and grind into a fine powder. Whisk together with lemon peel powder in a prep bowl.
Cut a 3 inch piece of vanilla bean (or more if you really like vanilla). Use a sharp knife to slice open the bean lengthwise down the center. With your blade, scrape the caviar out of the bean and set it aside. Discard the pod or use it in other recipes.
Place cooled potato in a food processor and blend until smooth. Slowly add the following:
ground lemon peel
ground guarana seeds
Process until soft, moist dough forms. Transfer dough into a bowl, cover tightly and chill in the refrigerator at least an hour (and preferably overnight).
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Pour pine nuts into a shallow bowl.
In a separate small bowl, lightly beat the egg white and set aside for later.
Scoop a teaspoon of dough and use the palms of your hands to roll into a ball. Roll ball in the pine nuts, pressing gently to coat the cookie dough in nuts.
Place panellet cookies on baking sheet and brush with egg white. Repeat this process with the remainder of your cookie dough.
Bake in the oven until golden brown (about 15 minutes). Remove cookies from the oven and allow to cool slightly before serving. Enjoy your panellets with guarana and let us know what you think!
Other flavor options: you can add instant coffee or candied fruit to the dough, or you can dust the outside with cacao powder or shredded coconut.
Note: tastes differ when it comes to vanilla. Use more or less, depending on your preferred level of pure vanilla flavor.