Category Archives: Pan Dulce~Sweet Bread

Pan Dulce~Favorite Mexican Bakery Treats

Today’s blog post is dedicated to Pan Dulce, Mexican sweet breads and cookies. Trips to la panaderia (mexican bakery) were a Sunday ritual in our house.  Warm bolillos, pan de huevo, cuernitos, marranitos, hojarascas and semitas  were just some of the tasty fresh baked goods to choose from. My first job was at a Mexican panaderia, El Mejor Pan Bakery in Houston, Texas. I learned all the names and still remember that distinct aroma of breads baking when I walked in the door to go to work. 
After getting married and moving to central New York, la panaderia, and all of it’s delicious treats soon became a distant memory. No Mexican bakeries for hundreds of miles, ha ha!! It soon became my quest to try and recreate some of the recipes I loved the most. And because of the popularity of Mexican food, there are many, many recipes being published. It’s a great trip down memory lane! My first entry is Polvorones de Nuez…
Polvorones de Nuez, also known as the Mexican Wedding Cookies when rolled round and dredged in powdered sugar. My Mom would prepare an almost identical version of this cookie, but we grew up knowing them as hojarascas. The flavors and textures are all the same. The original recipe was prepared with pork manteca (lard), but eventually my Mom switched over to vegetable shortening. For this recipe I used butter and saved my manteca for my carnitas instead, lol!
Polvorones also known as  Wedding Cookies when left round and rolled in powdered sugar.
Polvorones also known as Wedding Cookies when left round and rolled in powdered sugar.

2 sticks unsalted butter, shortening or the traditional lard…yes, lard…lol!
4 tablespoons powdered sugar
1/3 teaspoon anise seeds
1/3 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 full teaspoon of vanilla bean paste
2 cups all purpose flour

* 1 cup finely crushed pecans, optional

Polvorones remind me of the holidays, but they are a great cookie for anytime!
Polvorones remind me of the holidays, but they are a great cookie for anytime!

 

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Cream the butter, add powdered sugar, anise, cinnamon, salt and vanilla bean paste. Mix until smooth and creamy. Gradually mix in the flour until dough forms. It will be crumbly. if adding pecans, add them in now and fold them in as best you can.

2. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Roll 30 dough balls and divide between the two baking sheets. You could leave the polvorones round, or you could flatten them slightly as I did. I used the bottom of a glass.

3. Bake in preheated oven, one sheet at a time, for 13 to15 minutes, turning pan halfway through the baking time. This will help them bake more evenly.

4. If using sprinkles, they must go onto the cookies before baking. For cinnamon and sugar, gently dredge them in a mix of cinnamon/sugar while they are still slightly warm out of the oven. For powdered sugar, sift over cookies, or roll them in the powdered sugar once cooled. Let cool completely before storing in an airtight container. Yields 30 cookies

 

Polvorenes~Galletas  Mexican Shortbread Cookies. Click onto picture for full recipe at the Hispanic Kitchen.

Polvorones Mexican Shortbread Cookies
Polvorones Mexican Shortbread Cookies

 

 

Empanadas de Manzana con Nuez y Pasas (Apple Pecan Raisin Empanadas)

Empanadas de Manzana con Nuez y Pasas
Empanadas de Manzana con Nuez y Pasas

For Dough
1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground anise
1/2 cup shortening
1 large egg
1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

Apple Pecan Raisin Filling
Apple Pecan Raisin Filling

 

For Apple Pecan Raisin Filling
5 cups granny smith apples, peeled and diced fine
(I like to mix in some cortland apples if available)
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 stick unsalted butter
1 teaspoon apple pie spice
1/3 teaspoon salt
1/3 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup raisins
3/4 cup finely chopped pecans

Apple Pecan Raisin Empanadas
Apple Pecan Raisin Empanadas

 

Directions

1. In a large bowl, sift the dry ingredients for the dough. Cut in the shortening until well combined. Whisk the egg, milk and vanilla together. Gradually add the wet ingredients into the flour mixture until dough forms, adding a little flour if needed. Cover and let sit until ready to use.

2. For filling, combine all of the ingredients in a skillet. Cook at medium/low heat for 35 to 45 minutes, stirring often, until the sauce reduces and becomes thick. Remove from heat and let cool.

3. Once filling has cooled. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper, set aside. Divide the dough into 12 equal dough balls. Line a tortilla press with a plastic freezer bag, cut to fit. Flatten dough ball to about 4 inches in diameter. Fill with a couple of tablespoons of filling. Fold over and seal with fork or use your fingers to pinch and fold over.

4. Once all empanadas are filled, brush with milk and sprinkle immediately with turbinado sugar so it sticks. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown, rotating pan halfway through baking time. Transfer to the broiler for just under a minute to caramelize the sugar a little bit more. remove from oven and let cool slightly before serving. Yields 12 large empanadas.

Baked Goodies!
Baked Goodies!

 

Gorditas de Canela/Anis y Piloncillo (Brown Sugar Gorditas with Cinnamon & Anise)

Gorditas de Azucar
Gorditas de Azucar de Piloncillo, Canela y Anis

Ingredients

2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup  piloncillo, grated or light brown sugar (packed)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 teaspoon ground anise
1/3 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup milk
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Gorditas de Azucar
Gorditas de Azucar

 

1. Mix all of the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Cut in the butter until small granules form. Whisk the milk,egg and vanilla together. Gradually add in the milk/egg mixture until dough forms. If too sticky, add a little more flour. Dough should be tacky, but not sticky, lol! Roll 14 to 16 dough balls, cover and let rest for 20 minutes.

2. Preheat a large comal or griddle pan to just below medium heat for 5 minutes. On a lightly floured surface roll out the dough balls to about 31/2 inches in diameter. Cook on hot comal/griddle for 2 to 3 minutes per side or until nicely browned. It should start to bubble as soon as it hits the hot surface. Transfer to a clean kitchen towel to keep warm. Make 14 to 16 gorditas.

Gorditas de Azucar
Gorditas de Azucar
Gorditas de Azucar
Gorditas de Azucar

 

La Panaderia’s Mexican Pink Cake, My version…. Click onto picture for full recipe at the Hispanic Kitchen.

La Panaderia's Mexican Pink Cake
La Panaderia’s Mexican Pink Cake

 

Marranitos~Cochinitos. Click onto picture for full recipe at the Hispanic Kitchen.

Marranito Cookies
Marranito Cookies

 

 

Hojarascas with Dark Mexican Chocolate and Orange Zest. On most days when I prepare a batch of Hojarascas, I like ato add a little twist. Not that the traditional way is not delicious enough, but a girls just gotta play in her own kitchen sometimes, lol! I enjoy testing out different combinations. Sometimes they work! But you won’t know until you try…

Hojarascas with Orange Zest and Dark Mexican Chocolate

Hojarascas with Orange Zest and Dark Mexican Chocolate


1 cup shortening or butter at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
2 egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon of ground anise
1/3 teaspoon anise seeds
1/3 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup orange juice
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3 cups flour
3/4 cup finely crushed pecans, optional

For Chocolate topping
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
1 1/2 ounces Mexican chocolate (Abuelita brand), broken into smaller pieces
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons shortening
Zest of 1 large orange

*Turbinado sugar or sugar in the raw for sprinkling, optional

 

A decorative wooden/cork stopper made a great press for my hojarascas
A decorative wooden/cork stopper made a great press for my hojarascas
I really enjoy combining dark mexican chocolate with the special dark chips to make a quick topping for cookies
I really enjoy combining dark mexican chocolate with the special dark chips to make a quick topping for cookies

 

Directions 

1. Cream the shortening and sugar together. With the mixer running on low, add in the ingredients in the order listed while mixing. When you get to the flour, you may have to finish mixing by hand if it gets too thick. Fold in the pecans, cover and let rest for 20 minutes.

2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Roll 24 balls and place on baking sheets evenly. Using a flat bottomed glass, flatten the hojarascas slighlty. If the glass sticks, dip it in a little flour before using to flatten cookies. Bake for 14 to 17 minutes or until the edges turn light brown. Rotate the pans halfway through baking time. Remove from oven and let cool.

3. For topping, add the Mexican chocolate to a glass bowl. Heat in microwave for 30 to 40 seconds to soften and melt.  Add 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips, cinnamon and shortening. Microwave on high at 20 seconds intervals, mixing in between each time, until chocolate is smooth. Add a full teaspoon to each cookie, swirling around to spread out evenly. Add orange zest and sprinkle with turbinado sugar. Yields 24 cookies. Let sit at room temperature until chocolate sets before storing in a loosely covered container.

Hojarascas with dark Mexican Chocolate and Orange Zest
Hojarascas with dark Mexican Chocolate and Orange Zest
Prepping and  measuring before cooking or baking is a must!
Prepping and measuring before cooking or baking is a must!
Dulce de Leche Macaroons with Dark Chocolate and Sea Salt, not a traditional Panaderia treat, but still worth adding.
Dulce de Leche Macaroons with Dark Chocolate and Sea Salt
Dulce de Leche Macaroons with Dark Chocolate and Sea Salt


5 cups unsweetened coconut (you can use sweetened if you like)
2 tablespoons flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
13 ounce can La Lechera dulce de leche
1/8 cup milk
2 large egg whites, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons Mexican vanilla extract
18 dark chocolate kisses
Coarse sea salt, optional for sprinkling onto chocolate

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

2. Mix dry ingredients in one bowl. In another bowl, whisk all the wet ingredients and add to the dry.

3. Using two spoons drop mounds onto lined baking sheets. Bake in preheated oven for 18 minutes.While still warm, top with chocolate kisses. When chocolate softens and melts, sprinkle with sea salt. I added sprinkles to some of them as well, just for fun! Yields 18 large macaroons.

Tips~ Let the macaroons cool at room temperature. Cover them loosley with wax paper. They will soften overnight.

Used my recipe for Polvorones and made Valentines Day Alfajores
Used my recipe for Polvorones and made Valentines Day Alfajores
 
How to Make Conchas/Pan de Huevo. This was a fun recipe I developed for Que Rica Vida. Step by step directions on how to prepare conchas or pan de huevo right in your own kitchen.
http://www.quericavida.com/en/recipes-cooking/how-to-make-conchas-mexicanas/
How to make conchas, step by step
How to make conchas, step by step, click onto picture for complete recipe
Empanadas de Piña. These perfect little empanadas filled with homemade pineapple filling is a family recipe that was shared with me by my Tía Minerva. On my last trip to Mexico, in 2011, I was fortunate enough to be able to spend a whole month with her. We cooked together and she told me stories of my grandparents and their life together that I had never known. These family recipes hold a very special place in my heart. Entered May 14, 2014
Empanadas de Piña Dredged in Cinnamon and Sugar
Empanadas de Piña Dredged in Cinnamon and Sugar
 
For Dough
3½ cups flour
1¼ cups shortening
½ cup water
½ teaspoon anise seeds
1-inch piece cinnamon stick
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ cup sugar, plus more for dusting
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon for dusting
 
For Pineapple Filling
2 cups finely chopped, fresh pineapple
¾ cup dark brown sugar or piloncillo, if available
2 tablespoons lemon juice
¼ cup cold water

1 1/2 tablespoon cornstarch

 

 

1. Combine the anise seeds, cinnamon stick, and ½ cup of water. Steep (cook) in the microwave for  minutes, strain and set aside. Melt the shortening in a microwave-safe bowl, add the tea and stir gently stir. In another bowl, combine the dry ingredients and stir well to combine. Gradually add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients, until the dough forms and is no longer sticky. You may need to add a little more flour. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let it rest.2.  While the dough is resting, make your pineapple filling.  In a large nonstick skillet, add the  fresh pineapple and heat to medium heat. Add the brown sugar and 2 tablespoons lemon juice, stir well to combine. Lower the heat and continue cooking for 20 to 25 minutes, until most of the liquid is absorbed.  In a small bowl, make a slurry of 1 tablespoon cornstarch with ¼ cup of cold water. Mix together, making sure there are no lumps. Add the slurry to the cooking pineapple, stir well. Cook for another 5 to 7 minutes. Let filling cool.

3. When filling is cool and dough has rested, form  20 to 24(1½-inch) dough balls and set aside. Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Take one dough ball at a time and press in tortilla press lined with wax paper, fill with 1½ to 2 tablespoons of filling. Fold over, and using a fork,  or your fingers, press edges together to seal empanada.4. Transfer empanadas to a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown. In a small bowl combine 1 cup sugar with 2 tablespoons of ground cinnamon. While still slightly warm, roll in a cinnamon/sugar mixture. Yields 24 small empanadas.
Tips~ I like to place the empanadas under the broiler just long enough to brown the tops of the empanadas before removing from oven.
Polvorones, "Mexican Wedding Cookies" dipped in chocolate
Polvorones, “Mexican Wedding Cookies” dipped in chocolate
Empanaditas de Cajeta y de Chocolate,  Blog Entry May 23, 2014. Every time I prepare this family recipe for empanada dough, I try something a little different. This time, instead of melting the shortening, I cut it into the flour. And instead of just using all shortening, I added manteca (lard) which is typically used in Mexican empanada dough recipes. I loved It!!!! This was a special batch prepared for a facebook friend Heather, that lives near Chicago. Shipping and hoping they arrive in one piece…#laboroflove
Mini empanadas, some filled with dulce de leche and some filled with semi sweet chocolate
Mini empanadas, some filled with dulce de leche and some filled with semi sweet chocolate


1 3/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon crushed anise seeds
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons sugar
3 1/2 tablespoons manteca, lard
3 1/2 tablespoons vegetable shortening
2/3 cup warm water
1/3 to 1/2 cup dulce de leche caramel
1/3 to 1/2 cup mini semi sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup cinnamon/sugar mixture

1. Combine the dry ingredients. Using a pastry cutter or your fingers, cut in the manteca and shortening until you have pea size pieces.

2. Gradually add in water until dough forms, transfer to a flat surface and knead for 5 to 6 minutes, adding water as needed. Cover and let dough rest for 30 minutes.

3. Make 16 equal dough balls, keep covered so they don’t dry out. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

4. Using a lined tortilla press or the bottom of a flat plate, press out disc. Fill with 1 tablespoon cajeta or mini chocolate chips. Fold over and seal with fork or pinch and fold up with you thumb and finger to seal. Pierce the tops gently to create vent holes.Top the chocolate ones with a few mini chips.

5. Bake in preheated 375 degree F. oven for 25 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes. While still warm, dredge the dulce de leche empanadas through cinnamon and sugar. Sprinkle the chocolate empanadas with cinnamon and suagr. Yields 16 small empanadas. Let cool completely before storing in an airtight container.

Tips~ I like using a quart size freezer bag to line my tortilla press. The dulce de leche (cajeta) will usually leak out, so don’t panic, lol! I have not learned the secret to keep it from doing that yet.

Empanaditas de Cajeta y de Chocolate
Empanaditas de Cajeta y de Chocolate

 

Mantecadas de Naranja~ Orange Cupcakes with White Chocolate

What diehard foodie doesn’t have a collection of old cookbooks that have been sitting  on a bookshelf gathering dust? I have a wonderful library of Mexican cookbooks, from the smallest 20 pages to the largest of up to 1,000 pages long.  As a newlywed back in the 80’s I had no use for cookbooks. I would just call my Mom and ask her for recipes. As the years went by and my Mom cooked less and less, it was my turn to cook for her whenever I had the chance. This recipe for Mantecadas de Naranja is adapted form one of my oldest Mexican cookbooks in my collection. It’s very much like those cupcakes they sell at the Mexican panaderias.

It reminded me of my Mom, because her favorite thing to snack on was an orange. The orange peel! She could not eat the actual orange because she was diabetic. To this day I think of her every time I zest an orange or just enjoy a large navel orange. I too snack on the peels now….and now I understand why she enjoyed them so much.

Mantecadas de Naranja~Orange Cupcakes with White Chocolate

Ingredients

2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/3 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sugar
Zest of 1 large orange
2 eggs
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
2/3 cup orange juice
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
1 cup white chocolate chips, plus 1/2 cup for melting
Orange sugar sprinkles
Mantecadas de Naranja
Directions

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a muffin pan(12) with paper cups. Or you can use 6 large free standing muffin cups, like in the picture. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, sugar and 1/2 of the orange zest.

2. Using a hand held electric mixer, add in eggs one at a time. With mixer on medium, mix in the butter, orange juice and vanilla. Fold in 1 cup of white chocolate chips.

3. Divide the batter into prepared muffin pan or free standing cups. If using free standing cups, transfer them to a baking sheet for baking. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until a knife comes out clean from the center. Remove from oven and let cool. In a small bowl, melt the 1/2 cup of remaining white chips, spread in the center of cupcakes, sprinkle with orange sugar crystals and orange zest. Cool completely before storing in an airtight container.

Tips~ The free standing cupcake or muffin cups are available at most craft stores that carry baking supplies. I also find them now and then at stores like Home Goods or TJ Maxx.

Dulce de Leche Churros with Orange Zest & Cinnamon

I must have been a toddler when I had my  first Mexican Churro. Growing up in Los Angeles, every other Sunday we would visit one of our local swap meets or as they are known in Texas, La Pulga (flea markets). The swap meet was where you could find, old and new items, fresh produce and of course those warm and sugary Mexican style churros. We never prepared them at home since they were available in a variety of locations. It really was more of a special treat we looked forward to every time we visited the swap meet.

I am not 100 % sure about this, but I believe the origins  of the churro come from Spain.  Although all of my life, I just knew them as a wonderful Mexican treat. Churros are typically fried and sprinkled with a sugar/cinnamon mix. They can be served simply with a cup of hot chocolate or cafe for dipping during brunch. One of my favorite ways to enjoy churros is the way you will find them in Mexico, filled with cajeta or dulce de leche. For this recipe, the already prepared dulce de leche in incorporated into the dough.
This recipe was adapted from Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger, owners of  Border Grill. I have been a long time fan of their cooking shows since their days on Food Network.

Dulce de Leche Churros

Toasting the Flour for Churros

Churro dough after dulce de leche is mixed in

Ingredients

1 1/4 cups water
13 tablespoons unsalted butter
5 tablespoons brown sugar
Zest of 1 orange
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
5 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons Mexican vanilla
1 cup dulce de leche caramel

You will also need
Oil for frying
A pastry bag
A large star tip for pastry bag
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2  more tablespoons cinnamon

Dulce de Leche Churros

 

Directions

1. In a large pot, add the water, butter, brown sugar, orange zest and salt. Bring up to a boil, add all the flour and 2 teaspoons of cinnamon. Using a wooden spoon stir quickly to form a dough ball. Cook for a few minutes to toast the flour.

2. Remove from heat. If you have a stand mixer, you could transfer now. I left mine right in the pot and used my electric mixer to mix while adding one egg at a time. Mix well after each egg.

3. Scrape down sides, add vanilla and mix well. Finally, add in the dulce de leche. You could transfer the mixture to the refrigerator until you are ready to use. If frying right away, transfer half of the mixture to a large pastry bag fitted with a large star tip.

4. In a heavy pot, preheat canola oil (about 4 cups)to 375 degrees F. Now you can make bite size churros, about 2 inches long, or you can make a them up to 5 inches long. Use a small knife to cut off as you carefully drop them into the oil. Fry for about 4 minutes, drain onto baking sheet lined with paper towels. Dredge in cinnamon/sugar mixture while the churros are still warm. The centers will be soft because of the dulce de leche. This recipe yields 8 to 10 servings.

mmmmmm....mmmmmm!!
mmmmmm….mmmmmm!!

Tips~ My best tip when preparing churros is if possible, do not fry them until an hour before serving. If you have to make them ahead of time, let them cool on baking sheet. Cover loosely or they will have a tendency to become humid or moist and that will ruin the crispy texture. When I prepared these, after dipping them in the sugar mixture, I stored them in my cool oven uncovered until the next day.

 

Dulce de Leche Churros