This traditional Catalan panellets recipe is easy to make with just 6 ingredients and fun to customize with different toppings.
Bon dia, everyone! Today’s new recipe is special one from right here in the heart of Catalonia — we’re making panellets. ♡
I had actually never heard of these sweet treats before we moved to Barcelona. But a few weeks after we first arrived in the city at this time two years ago, I received a message on Insta from a local blog reader (who has since become one of my best friends in the city) saying that we absolutely had to stop by a traditional bakery in our neighborhood to try some panellets while they were in season. So we popped by to sample a few, and instantly fell in love with this sweet tradition.
As we came to learn, panellets (pronounced pah-neh-yets) are a seasonal treat in Catalonia, available only for a short time leading up to All Saints Day (November 1), where they are traditionally served alongside roasted chestnuts and enormous roasted sweet potatoes. There are at least a dozen different flavors of panellets that you choose from, each of which has its own traditional shape to match its flavor. And all are filled with a sweet almondy marizpan filling. And all are delicious. Our favorites are the (round) pine nut panellets and the (oval-shaped) almond panellets, which happen to be two of the most popular flavors. But you can also roll or stuff your panellets with everything from coconut to cocoa, coffee, quince paste, cherries and more. So many panellets to choose from!
This past week leading up to All Saints Day, we coincidentally had a date on the calendar with that same friend and her boyfriend to go out for sushi. But at the last second, she messaged and asked if we might like to have a homemade panellet-making party instead — to which we immediately replied yes please. So Barclay cooked us all up a big batch of cozy cauliflower curry to for dinner. Laura and I set to work mixing up the lemony almond flour marzipan. Dani headed up quality control with all of the toppings. And the four of us spent the evening rolling out a few dozen panellets, which ended up baking up perfectly in the oven. Our first panellet success!
We dove in while they were nice and warm, fresh outta the oven, and then boxed up the leftovers to share with our neighbors. (They always get a kick out of us learning how to make traditional Catalan recipes.) But after I posted about our panellet party on Instagram, enough of you all had asked for the recipe that we decided to go ahead and make a second batch so that I could share the recipe with you in time for All Saints Day.
So for those of you interested in giving panellets a try, here’s how Laura taught us to make them!
Our first panellets in Barcelona — All Saints Day 2017 :)
Panellet Party 2019!
The traditional ingredients used to make pine nut and/or almond panellets include:
Almond flour (almond meal): This will be the base of our marzipan dough.
Potato: It’s traditional to mix some cooked potato (such as a Yukon gold) into the marzipan dough. I just popped a small potato in the microwave to cook it quickly, but you could boil or bake the potato instead too.
Sugar: White granulated sugar is traditional, but we used brown sugar for both of our batches.
Eggs: Which we will use (1) in the dough itself (2) to help bind the dough to the toppings and (3) brushed on as an egg wash before baking.
Lemon zest: Which we will add to the dough.
Toppings: Either pine nuts (you may notice the Spanish pine nuts are extra-long), finely-chopped almonds, or see below for more topping options.
How To Make Panellets
How To Make Panellets:
So after making our first batch of marzipan by hand, I totally took a shortcut and made the second batch with a food processor — which worked like a charm! Either way, these little guys will be delicious. To make panellets the traditional way, simply:
Make the marzipan. In a large mixing bowl, stir together the sugar, eggs, and lemon zest until combined. Add in the mashed potato and stir until combined. Then gradually add in the almond flour and stir (or you may need to use your hands work the flour into the dough) until it is completely combined. Use your hands to shape the marzipan into a large disk. Then cover and refrigerate it for a few hours until chilled. (That said, we actually skipped the refrigeration step and these still worked just fine.)
Roll the panellets. Roll the marzipan into evenly-sized 1-inch balls (for the pine nut version) or little logs (for the almond version), about 20 grams each. Dip each ball in a bowl of whisked egg. Then dip it into a second bowl filled with either pine nuts or finely-chopped almonds. Use your hands to gently press the nuts into the marzipan so that the entire ball is covered. (This takes some patience and will require you to get your hands dirty, so plan for this step to take some time!)
Brush the panellets. Then place the rolled panellets on a parchment-covered baking sheet. Brush them once more with an egg wash.
Bake. Then bake for 10 minutes, or until the tops of the panellets are nice and golden. (Keep a close eye on them so that the nuts do not burn, that would be so sad!)
Serve. Then enjoy! The panellets should be able to keep at room temperature for up to 1 week, although I doubt they will last that long. ♡
As I mentioned above, we have seen many different types of panellets in bakeries around Barcelona! Here are a few more options for how to customize your own:
Use a different topping: Shredded coconut and cocoa powder are two more popular options for rolling your panellets. Others are pressed into more of a thumbprint cookie shape, and filled with a maraschino cherry or quince paste.
Use sweet potato: Another friend mention that she loves making healthier panellets with sweet potatoes and maple syrup. I want to try this next year!
Use a different sweetener: We used brown sugar, but white (granulated) sugar or coconut sugar would also work well here. I haven’t tested liquid sweeteners like maple syrup or honey, but imagine they could work if you experimented a bit with proportions.
More Favorite Barcelona Recipes:
Interested in some other recipes that we have learned how to make while living in Spain? Here are a few faves:
12 ounces (350 grams) raw pine nuts or finely-chopped almonds (or a 50/50 mix of both)
Make the marzipan. In a large mixing bowl*, stir together one egg, lemon zest and brown sugar until combined. Add in the mashed (cooked) potato and stir until combined. Gradually add in the almond flour and stir (or you may need to use your hands) the dough until it is completely combined, taking care not to overwork the dough. At this point, you can either begin to roll out the dough. Or you can shape it into a disk, cover it with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for up to 48 hours until ready to use.
Roll the panellets. Roll the marzipan dough into 1-inch balls (for the pine nut version) or 1-inch little logs (for the almond version), about 20 grams each. Whisk one egg in a small bowl, and place the pine nuts or almonds in a second bowl. Dip a dough ball into the egg mixture until it is completely coated. Then transfer the dough ball to the bowl of nuts, and use your hands to gently press the nuts so that the entire ball is covered. (This takes some patience and will require you to get your hands dirty, so plan for this step to take some time.)
Prepare the oven. Heat the oven to 425°F.
Brush the panellets. Place the rolled panellets onto a large parchment-covered baking sheet. Whisk the final egg plus 1 tablespoon of water together in a small bowl. Then brush each of the panellets with the egg wash.
Bake. Bake for 10 minutes, or until the tops of the panellets are lightly golden. (Be sure to keep a close eye on them so that the nuts do not burn.)
Serve. Enjoy the panellets while they are nice and warm. Or you can store them in a sealed container at room temperature for up to 1 week, or freeze for up to 3 months.
*Food processor option: Instead of mixing the marzipan by hand, I pulsed everything together (using the same order of ingredients) in a food processor — which worked great!
*Refrigerating the dough: Many traditional recipes suggest refrigerating the dough until it is completely chilled before you roll out the dough balls. But we skipped this step and they rolled out just fine. :)
*Source: Big thanks to my friend, Laura, for this recipe!