A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

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Entry from December 04, 2006
Pan de Polvo or Polvoron/Polvorones (Mexican Wedding Cookies)

Pan de Polvo (also called Polvoron or Polvorones or Mexican Wedding Cookies) are popular in South Texas. They’re usually served at weddings or other special occasions.

“Polvo” is Spanish for “dust,” probably the result of using so much shortening in the cookies that they “pulverize” your mouth (as one citation below aserts).

Texas Monthly Recipe Swap
Pan de Polvo
Author: Deniese Dahl
Date:  09-29-06 17:13

Can someone please help me find the authentic South Texas recipe for Pan de Polvo (wedding cookies). Since I moved from S. Texas to Oregon, I have found that the Mexican Food is completely different and no one even knows what Pan de Polvo is, not even the hispanics from over the border from California. Strange.

I know how to make most everything else that I really like except for these cookies.

thanks in advance for any help.

Re: Pan de Polvo
Author: Ernesto Carreon
Date:  09-29-06 21:25

Pan de Polvo is traditionally served at Christmas, Weddings, and Quinceneras. This recipe is one of my families favorites at Christmas time, and I know your family will enjoy it also.

Pan de Polvo (Mexican Shortbread)
2 lbs flour
1 lb vegetable shortening
Cinnamon Anise Tea
6 cinnamon sticks
4 tablespoons anise seeds
2 cups water
3 cups white granulated sugar
1/4 cup ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Cut shortening into flour until mixture resemble coarse corn meal.
Add hot cinnamon and 1/4 cup anise tea and kneed dough until smooth.
This will take a while.
Roll dough into 1 inch diameter logs about 12 inch long.
Cut logs into 1/4 in thick circles.
Place close together on cookie sheet, but not touching.
They spread very little to not at all.
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until bottom side of cookie become lightly golden brown, and when cookie is cut in half, it looks baked all the way through.
Combine granulated sugar and ground cinnamon.
While cookies are still hot, roll each one in sugar and cinnamon coating with a fork until well coated.
Place the cookies on cooling rack and cool completely.

1 tbsp. anise 2 lb. flour (5 c.) 1 lb. shortening 1 egg 1 c. sugar
Preheat oven at 350 degrees. Grind cinnamon and anise in blender. In large mixing bowl add cinnamon and anise mixture with all other ingredients. Mix until dough is formed.

Put dough into electric or hand cookie shooter and form 2-inch cookies on an ungreased cookie sheet. Cook 10 minutes. Remove from cookie sheet and cool. Coat in special powdered sugar (see below).

1 c. sugar
1 stick cinnamon
1 tbsp. anise

Austin Chronicle
Austin Chronicle, July 25-31, 1997
El Azteca Restaurant
2600 E. Seventh, 477-4701
Reading El Azteca’s placemat menus is a Tex-Mex restaurant history lesson in itself. There is still a small section of American food (burgers, chicken, shrimp, steak, chicken-fried) and a section of numbered combination dinners from the days when those were necessities. They were one of the first Mexican eateries to add a large section “for our vegetarian customers and friends,” circa the early Seventies. The elder Guerra added cabrito (kid goat) to the menu and even took a stab at raising goats commercially for a few years during the Eighties. As local restaurant patrons became more sophisticated, the Guerras added a few Interior Mexican dishes to the basic Tex-Mex fare. However, each dinner still includes a small, comforting scoop of sherbet or cinnamon-scented polvorone cookie, for years the standard traditional sweet finale to any spicy Tex-Mex meal.
Plates clean, appetites satisfied, we ended the meal with soft, sandy Mexican wedding cookies, polvorones. Fresh from the oven, they were so delightful I had to have a bag to take home. They’ll remind me not to wait so long before visiting El Azteca again.
-- Virginia B. Wood

Expert: Beth Milakovic
Date: 3/28/2005
Subject: cookies

I want to make Polvoron cookies ( mexican shortbread ) The recipe I have gives me cookies that are hollow in the midle and also they don’t spread much. The recipe is very simple: 1 portion sugar, 1 portion shortening, 2 portions flour and small portions of egg, baking powder and baking soda. Can you help me to improve them? Thanks.
It sounds like you may be using a little bit too much flour.  Usually when cookies don’t spread it is the flour.  You might also try using a butter flavored shortening or reducing the shortening and adding a little butter.  This frequently works in recipes.
Good Luck!

24 July 1941, Chicago Daily Tribune, pg. 11:
Chicagoans invited to meet Carlos Chavez at a reception in McKinlock court at the Art institute this afternoon will eat Mexican cakes called “polvorones” with their punch. The word comes from polvo—Spanish for dust, so-called because there is so much shortening in the cookies they pulverize in the mouth. A Polk street Mexican baker made them specially for the Pan-American Council which, with the Ravinia festival committee is giving the patio tea. In Mexico the cakes are eaten at fiesta time, says the baker, Manuel Quintanilla. You eat a polvorone, then take a drink of hot chocolate and the polvorone melts immediately.

19 January 1951, Valley Morning Star (Harlingen, TX), pg. 7, col. 2:
After the gifts were opened, Mrs. G. E. Valdez served coffee, potatoe salad and pan de polvo for refreshments.

19 April 1953, Valley Morning Star (Harlingen, TX), pg. 5A:
Wedding cake, a four-tiered confection crowned with two miniature bridal couples, was served with pan de polvo, chicken salad plate and coffee and chocolate.

17 December 1955, St. Joseph (MI) Herald Press, pg. 5:
Polvoron is made in the Philippines as a sweet that children especially can enjoy. It’s easy to make and nutritious, and by adding different flavors and colors to various portions of the mixture, you can get a variety from one basic recipe.

1 cup all-purpose flour.
1/2 cup sugar.
1/2 cup dried milk.
1/2 cup butter, melted.
1/2 tsp. vanilla or other flavoring.
1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional).
Roast flour in a heavy cast iron skillet by placing over direct heat and stirring constantly. Cook until there is no uncooked starch flavor. Mix flour, sugar and milk together thoroughly. Add melted butter, vanilla and nuts. Mix well. Press in small mold, such as butter mold. Remove carefully to hold shape. Wrap each piece in colored paper and keep in sight for holiday callers.

24 September 1959, Pinedale (WY) Roundup, pg. 13, col. 2:
Mrs. Mercy Lovatt talked and displayed pictures on her trip to Mexico and provided Polvorones de Canela (Mexican tea cakes) and Pastelitas de Boda (Mexican Wedding Cakes) to the group.

24 December 1959, Deming (NM) Headlight, pg. 16, col. 3:
Also Muchos Gracias to the local bake shop “La Fama” for their wonderful “Polvorones” and anise seed “Semitas” that were a hit,...

7 July 1977, San Antonio (TX) Light, “Pan Dulce: S.A. Has the Best” by Ed Castillo, pg. 2B, col. 3:
..."polvoros" (comes from the word “polvo,” or dust, which is the fine sugar sprinkled over it);... 

Google Books
Cooking with Texas Highways
by Nola McKey
Austin, TX: University of Texas Press
Pg. 5 (Name That Pan Dulce!):
pan de polvo: A cinnamon-and-sugar-coated cookie-like bread that’s always served at weddings, quinceañeras and quinceañeros (girls’ and boys’ fifteenth-birthday parties), and other special events, as well as at Christmas.

Posted by Barry Popik
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • (3) Comments • Monday, December 04, 2006 • Permalink

I have a “Pan de polvo” recipe I found on the internet some 9 years ago.  I’m from south texas but lived in Nashville, Tn.  I now live in Harlingen, TX again. 
5 lbs flour
1 cup sugar
2 sticks cinnamon
2 1/2 lbs crisco shortening

Boil about 1 1/2 cup water with cinnamon sticks to brew a tea.

Sugar Mixture:
Combine sugar with super-fine sugar and ground cinnamon.
You may also ground cinnamon sticks in blender and use this in the place of ground cinnamon.

Add sugar to Crisco shortening.  Dissolve sugar in the shortening using your hand (and this is very important) for a minimum of 30 minutes.

Add a 1/2 cup of the cinnamon tea to the shortening and mix thoroughly for 5 minutes, again using your hand.

Begin adding flour to the shortening mixutre and knead to form dough balls.

Roll dough between waxed paper 1/2 inch thin.  Cut dough with cookie cutter.  I prefer using a cutter that will make a cookie with a 1 1/2-inch diameter.

Bake on cookie sheets at 325 degrees F between 15-20 minutes or until lightly browned on bottom of cookie.  Do not overbake as this will cause a burnt taste.

Once cookies are baked, immediaately immerse them in the sugar mixutre to coat.  Cool

Posted by Christy Malone  on  09/03  at  10:45 AM

i am trying to look every where but cannot find why pan de polvo is used at christmas Quinceaneras and weddings . can someone please tell me why they are used at christmas Quinceaneras and weddings ?  grin

Posted by danielle gonzalez  on  05/16  at  09:51 AM

I like polvoron, the recipe from the Philippines. It’s so easy to prepare, it’s healthy and kids like it.

Posted by Alicia  on  05/30  at  09:48 PM

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