Gastronomic route through the Christmas sweets: the mantecado and the polvoron

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Mantecado. Dulce típicamente navideño

Mantecado. Typical Christmas sweet

Last week we began a cycle dedicated to the Christmas sweets. This was broadly dedicated to the leading product: the Turron, with the Alicante area as background.

This week we continue to prepare our palates for the upcoming sweet moments that are around the corner, Christmas. So, we are headed to Andalucia in order to indulge ourselves in a good assortment of mantecado and polvorones (typical Christmas Spanish sweets).

First and foremost, we are going to try to resolve a question we have gotten every now and then: What is the difference between a mantecado and a polvoron?

The Polvoron is a specialty within the mantecados. Apart from corn flour, lard and sugar (the ingredients of the mantecado), the polvoron also has almonds, which gives it a different consistency.

A little bit of history:

The history of mantecados in Spain started in the 16th century and its origin due to an overproduction. At that time period, Andalucia had a excess of lard and corn, and…what else could be done with all of that? They came up with the mantecado.

Algunos dicen que nació en Antequera y otros en Estepa, o Rute, el punto geográfico no está claro, pero lo que sí es cierto es que la receta se extendió por toda España y se pueden encontrar mantecados fabricados no solo en Andalucía, sino también en Toledo, Tordesillas (Valladolid) o Pitillas (Navarra).

Some people say these pastries were born in Antequera, some say in Estepa or Rute–the geographical spot is not clear at all. One thing is for sure, the recipe quickly spread throughout Spain and can now be found not only in Andalucia but also in Toledo, Tordesillas (Valladolid) or Pitillas (Navarra).
Estepa concentrates the vast majority of mantecado factories, since it was there where the marketing started in the 19th century. Today, this town is the mantecado paradise. A visit there leads us inevitably to the Museum of the Mantecado. During the Christmas seaspn, this museum holds also a very tempting chocolate Nativity Scene.

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