Panellets (Empiñonados) or Spanish Sweet Potato-Marzipan “Cookies”

Panellets are a traditional Spanish dessert for All Saint’s Day, which is 1 November. In the Catalan region of Spain, they are called “panellets”, or little breads, while in other areas, specifically in Sevilla (Andalucia), they are called “empiñonados”, because they are typically covered in piñones (pine nuts).

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I’m a bit early or late for the recipe, depending on how you want to view it. But either way, they are a delicious treat anytime of the year. Plus, they are very easy to make and are Paleo-friendly.

The basis for the recipe is the marzipan, which can be made with coconut sugar, honey or maple syrup to keep it Paleo.

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Marzipan should be sweet, and usually the recipes call for the same amount of refined sugar as of ground almonds in weight. I tried to decrease the amount of sweetener, and although the amount of honey used may seem like a lot, they are not that sweet.

While the typical panellets are coated with pine nuts, I decided to give mine a bit of the aroma of the Maghreb area by adding rose water, which I had purchased on our Dubai trip, and coating them in ground pistachios. I also coated some in desiccated coconut and another set in a mixture of desiccated coconut and cacao powder.

If you use pine nuts, beat an egg yolk and spread it over the balls with a brush before baking, to give the nuts a glossy finish. This is not really needed with the pistachios or other coatings.

You can also play around with the flavours, adding spices and different toppings, depending on what you prefer, or even use a different vegetable… !

Panellets (Empiñonados) or Spanish Sweet Potato-Marzipan Cookies
Recipe Type: Easy
Cuisine: Spanish
Author: The Saffron Girl
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 25-28
Ingredients
  • 3 cups ground almonds
  • 3/4 cup raw honey
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes (about 190g)
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon rose water (optional)
  • ground pistachios (or whole pine nuts)
  • desiccated coconut
  • cacao powder
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 190C (375F).
  2. Peel and cut into large chunks the sweet potatoes. Cook in plenty of water until tender.
  3. Once tender, drain and mash with a fork or spoon until a puree is formed.
  4. Add the raw honey and rose water and mix well.
  5. Add the ground almonds, and with your hands mix it all well until you have a paste, similar to marzipan. (Actually it is marzipan without the sweet potato.)
  6. Allow to cool.
  7. Then with your hands, create 1-inch balls out of the paste.
  8. Beat the eggs in a soup bowl or small dish.
  9. Dip each ball in the beaten eggs and then through either ground pistachios, whole pine nuts, desiccated coconut, or cacao powder or a mixture of coconut and cacao powder. (If using pine nuts, it’s nice to add egg yolk-brushed onto the balls before baking-for a glossy finish.)
  10. Bake the panellets for 10-12 minutes, turning around once half way through.