Panellets: A Catalan Family Treat
Panellets are a traditional dessert for Catalonia’s All Saints Day celebration—and the winner of the Folklife Festival’s Catalan Cookie Recipe Competition. This recipe was submitted by Jesús Bach Marquès, a member of the Associaci’o de Geganters i Grallers d’Oliana. He, along with other member of the association, are performing at the Festival with their gegant (giant) costumes and music.
In addition to sharing his family recipe, he also recounted a personal story highlighting the significance of panellets in his family:
“In traditional Catalan families, panellets recipes are passed on from generation to generation. In my case, my grandma, the cook of the house, always made them with so much love and care, and they are delicious. When I was little, I helped her make the little balls, or churros, with the dough and gave them a shape, so they felt a little more like my own. I promised to be the next panellets chef of the house. This way, when my grandma is no longer with us, we would be able to keep this part of her alive. After so many years, this part of her began to become a part of the panellets. Therefore, carrying on this tradition would be to keep these sweet memories, just as she did in her time and what my nieces and children will do with theirs.”
Jesús’s recipe is the traditional version of panellets. Typically, they are made with almond meal, potato, sugar, and lemon. Then the dough is rolled in pine nuts or slivered almonds. They can also be rolled in cocoa powder or desiccated coconut, but pine nuts are the most popular topping. You can find them at any bakery during the last two weeks of October when everyone prepares for All Saint’s Day on November 1. This national holiday honors the deceased, a time when family members come home to pay their respects to the dead, decorate tombstones with flowers, prepare meals together, and attend Catholic Mass.
Be sure to watch my panellets demonstration at the Festival! We’ll be in the Rural Life on June 30 at 11:30 a.m. Below you can find Jesús’s recipe along with photo and notes from my recipe test trial.
2.5 cups ground almonds
1 cup sugar
1 cup boiled potato, mashed
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Pine nuts or slivered almonds
- Set the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Mix the ground almond, sugar, potato, egg, and lemon juice in a large bowl.
- Once it is evenly mixed, form small balls about 1 inch in diameter and dip them in an egg wash. You should get about 12 big panellets.
- Coat the balls with pine nuts or almonds and brush them with egg.
- Bake them for 15 minutes, until lightly browned.
- Let them cool.
Note: I chilled the dough for two hours before making them into balls and added some lemon zest.
Josi Miller is an intern for the Catalonia program at the Folklife Festival and a junior at Denison University majoring in anthropology and Spanish. She enjoys studying food culture as well as cooking with her friends and family.