Yesterday I was listening to a radio program comparing holiday traditions in Spain and in the United States, specifically dessert traditions. I think I have commented on this in the past, but the dessert and cookie selection in Spain is very different from the selection in the states. Where our supermarkets and restaurant menus are filled with cakes covered in sugary icing with a million flavors and fillings, cookies that come in 100´s of shapes, sizes, and flavors, pies, and cheese cakes here in Spain you can find all of the above, but with out the variety and about half the sugar. Pastry shops here tend to look yellow and brown, flakey pastries and chocolates. I can´t say one is better than the other, I´ve had moments of missing a sugary cupcake but a chocolate dipped palmera (thin, flakey but moist dough wrapped in the shape of a heart with a solid chocolate coating) is probably one of my new favorite foods. But, on the radio preogram they were talking about the specific desserts that one must have in order to have Christmas here in Spain. They are all store bought desserts and tend to revolve around almonds and flour two characteristics I found interesting when compared to our holiday desserts. Anyway, the two big mus have holiday sweets in Spain are Polvorones and Turron. Polvorones are like cookies, but unlike our cookies they come in specific flavors-lemon, almond, wine, and chocolate, and can break into a million sugary pieces if you aren´t careful with them. They are kind of like mexican wedding cookies if you have ever had those. I like the almond falvor, but stay away from the chocolate flavor it takes like pure cocoa and can be bitter. After Polvorones, and probably most well known in the world is Turron, a thick almond bark that can come either hard or soft. There is an entire aisle at the supermarket dedicated to turron, and beyond the almonds, you can also get it in chocolate, egg yolk, or coconut flavor. I like the original in both hard and soft. So, based on the radio programs, commercials, and supermarkets, these are the desserts that make christmas in Spain.Thinking of Christmas in the states homemade christmas cookies, especially decorated sugar cookies and gingerbread men mark the holidays. Every american child has memories making the cookies, decorating them with icings, sprinkles, and candy, and even attemplting to build a gingerbread house. And, cookies are a must have to leave out for Santa. But, I can´t think of any specific store-bought sweets to really make it feel like the holidays. Maybe some green and red M&M´s? I don´t know. Anyway...if you can think of any others, leave a comment, or if you celebrate other holiday sweets tradions, leave a comment, it will be fun imagine all the dessert possibilies. Enjoy the baking this weekend if you are in the states, and if you are in Spain, go get some turron before it´s too late.
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