Polvorones – Sweet Bread

Click here to go to printable recipe: Orange and Tricolour Dusty Cookies 

In my previous two posts, I shared a short history of polvorones, with a traditional recipe with toasted flour (polvorones tradicionales), and then, the famous sugar coated treats with nuts (polvorones de nuez), known internationally as Mexican wedding cookies.   Another type of Mexican polvorones starts with a versatile dough that may be shaped using different techniques before baking.  One calls for individual portions of dough free-formed into spheres or elongated balls, then flattened into circles of ovals, giving them a characteristic cracked edge (photo below, left).  The dough is also smooth enough to be extended with a rolling pin, and used to cut out shapes (photo below, centre).  And finally, the dough may be formed into logs with a cross section of the desired shape (circle, triangle), and then sliced (photo below, right): 

Flattened polvorones (from Leamington, Ontario, Canada, 2020)
Cut-out polvorones (Culiacán, Sinaloa, Mexico, 2019)
Sliced from a log polvorones (Culiacán, Sinaloa, Mexico, 2019)

These polvorones are commonly produced in bakeries, and are considered a type of pan dulce (Mexican sweet bread); their endless variety of flavourings (almond, cinnamon, vanilla, chocolate, cherry, orange, etc.) and toppings (sugar, cinnamon, sprinkles, nuts, etc.) has made them a staple in the sweet bread basket at the Mexican table, catering to different tastes, even that of some pedants who might deem these treats as not original Spanish polvorones.

The oldest recipes always call for lard, but more contemporary ones may use vegetable shortening, butter, margarine, or mixes.  My recipe for the dough includes a half/half mixture of butter and non-hydrogenated margarine, and I chose two kinds of log slices for this post: orange flavoured circles, and tricoloured triangles.

Orange and Tricolour Dusty Cookies –

Polvorones de naranja y tricolor

Printable recipe: Orange and Tricolour Dusty Cookies 

Ingredients (for 46 to 48 cookies)

¾ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
¾ cup margarine, non-hydrogenated
1 cup granulated sugar, plus more for coating
1 egg
½ tsp baking soda
4 cups all-purpose wheat flour, plus more, as needed
For one quarter of dough, orange:
1 tsp orange zest
2 tbsp orange juice
Yellow food colouring, optional
For the rest of dough, tricolour:
1 tsp vanilla
Yellow food colouring, optional
2 tbsp maraschino cherry syrup
Red food colouring, optional
2 tbsp cocoa powder
2 tbsp warm water

Place butter, margarine and sugar in a mixing bowl, and beat, either by hand or with an electric mixer (photo below, left), until sugar dissolves, and the mix becomes smooth and creamy; add egg and baking soda, and continue beating (photo below, right):

Gradually add flour, mixing to incorporate (photo below, left).  Incorporate the last cup of flour folding with a spatula (photo below, right):

Finish kneading with hands, until the dough is smooth and manageable.  

Divide into four equal portions.  Set up the add-ins for each portion, as shown below, from left to right: orange zest mixed with orange juice (yellow food colouring optional, I did not use any); vanilla (yellow food colouring optional, I did not use any); maraschino cherry syrup (red food colouring optional, I did not use any); and cocoa powder mixed with warm water:

Mix add-ins with the respective portion of dough, until uniform, incorporating a little more flour if dough becomes too sticky, from left to right, orange, vanilla, cherry, and chocolate:

Take the orange flavoured dough and form into a log, about 10 cm (4 inches) long, and 6.5 cm (2 ½ inch) in diameter:

Wrap tightly with parchment paper and allow to rest in the fridge for about half an hour.

For the tricolour log, place each of the three remaining portions of dough on lightly floured surface, and roll with hands to form into logs, approximately 28 cm (11 inch) in length, and 2.5 cm (1 inch) in diameter:

Stack the three logs together, pressing gently to cluster into one thick log:

Place on a sheet of parchment paper and start wrapping around, turning the log and flattening against the table, to form a triangular cross section:

Allow to rest in the fridge for around half an hour, as well.

Prepare a plate with granulated sugar, three baking sheets lined with parchment paper, and pre-heat the oven to 350 ºF (180 ºC).

Take orange log out of the fridge, and unwrap.  Cut slices 0.8 cm (5/16 inch) thick, smoothing the edge of each slice to restore shape.  Place slices in plate with sugar, and press gently to help sugar adhere, flipping to coat both sides; transfer to a prepared baking sheet:

Makes 11 to 12 orange polvorones.

Take tricolour log out of the fridge, unwrap, and repeat slicing, smoothing edges, and coating with sugar on both sides, as with the other log. Transfer to the other prepared baking sheets:   

Makes approximately 35 tricolour polvorones.

Bake polvorones in batches in the oven for 12 to 14 minutes, until golden brown on the bottom, but only slightly tanned on top.   Allow to cool down to room temperature before eating.  

Serve each kind individually, as seen below for orange polvorones:

And tricolour polvorones:

Or together, for a more tempting plate:

These polvorones are equally good as a snack for coffee break and tea time, or served as a light breakfast or supper, with a frothy cup of hot chocolate.  If wrapped logs are placed in plastic bags and kept in the freezer, a batch can be sliced and baked at jet speed, any time, even in the revelry of this holiday season. 

I am sharing my post at Thursday Favourite Things #519, with Bev @ Eclectic Red BarnPam @ An Artful MomKatherine @ Katherine’s CornerAmber @ Follow the Yellow Brick HomeTheresa @ Shoestring Elegance and Linda @ Crafts a la Mode.   

I am bringing my recipe to Full Plate Thursday #566 with Miz Helen @ Miz Helen’s Country Cottage.

I am bringing my recipe to Fiesta Friday #410 with Angie @ Fiesta Friday.

I am also sharing my recipe at What’s for Dinner? Sunday Link-Up #345 with Helen @ The Lazy Gastronome.

8 thoughts on “Polvorones – Sweet Bread

    1. Hi, Frank! Very interesting history of the “El Nopal Bakery” in Chicago. I found it a little curious that you have a registered trademark for Hojarasca Cookie®; is this cookie, created in 1954 by your parents, as I have learned from your link, anything like the traditional Northern Mexico’s hojarascas?


      1. Hi Irene, first thank you for reading my page on my parents Bakery history. All I know is that our Hojarasca® cookie is my dad’s original recipe. My mom said he worked a lot on it to perfect it. Many people have said they never tasted a cookie like that. Since the cookie was so fragile my mom called it Hojarasca meaning tender leaf.

        I am unfamiliar with the northern Mexico cookie you mentioned. I’m assuming that those were originally called Polvorones.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Hojarascas are more delicate than polvorones; there are different versions depending on family recipes, or state (Coahuila, Nuevo León, etc.) The one characteristic in common is that they start with an infusion of cloves and cinnamon that gets mixed in with the dry ingredients and fat. Some bakers roll the dough and use cookie cutters, while others use a cookie gun to extrude the dough.


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