Christmas time is packed with copious lunches and dinners, good wine and sweet treats, and it is the sweet stuff that differs the most from one country to the other. Here’s a list of five most typical Christmas treats in Spain.
Turrón is probably the most popular Christmas confection in Spain. Strictly speaking, there are two varieties: turrón ‘duro’, the hard, nearly unbreakable turrón, and turrón ‘blando’, the soft turrón. They share exact same ingredients – honey, sugar and almonds, sometimes eggs, and only differ in preparation.
Turrón is nearly identical to nougats in other Mediterrannean countries and was probably introduced by the Arabs, whose love of using honey and dried fruits in confections is well documented.
Today, distingusihing the turrón duro from turrón blando is not enough. There are so many variations on the theme available on the market, but unsurprisingly, none have stolen the protagonism of the original turrón. It continue’s to be everyone’s favourite.
The most obvious difference, though, is there shape. Mantecados are traditionally round, while polvorones are oval-shaped. All come individually wrapped .
Roscón de Reyes
Roscón de Reyes is a round or crown-shaped sweet-bread pastry, often filled with either whipped cream or custard, and sprinkled with dried fruits. Traditionally, it is eaten on January 6th, The Three Kings’ Day or Epiphany, but many pastry shops will start selling them in early December, allowing Spaniards to try out several editions before ordering their favourite one for January 6th.
All roscones will have a little figure of a king hidden inside, and the person that ends up with the figure will traditionally have to pay for the roscón next year. In some parts of Spain, there is also a haricot bean, and it is the bean that determines who pays for the roscón, making the owner of the king figure the lucky one.