Panellets for All Saints and All Souls
On 1 November, All Saints holiday -Castanyada- is celebrated in Catalunya, Spain, to chestnuts, panellets, sweet potato and dried fruits, accompanied with sweet wine -moscatell-. These are ate and drunk to the bells that ring from All Saints’ evening into All Souls’ day, 2 November. This festival is similarly celebrated in Asturias -Magüestu- and in Portugal -Magusto-. Panellet, which in Catalan means little bread as well as rabbit, is a delicious dessert, made with a marzipan base recipe. In many homes it is traditional to make these treats during a family gathering on All Saints, kneading, forming and coating the different shaped little breads together.
The original recipe for Panellets calls for sugar 1:1 to almonds. I prefer a less sweet concoction, but if you prefer to go by the standard, up my sugar amounts to equal that of the almond meal. I also prefer to use brown sugar instead of refined white sugar. A personal choice, which can be varied. The ingredient list below is for a relatively small batch (6 people). If you would like to make a larger batch and gift some to your friends, as is part of the tradition, double or triple the ingredient list. They are one of those sort of hard to stop eating sweets.
200 gm almond meal, or blanched almonds ground fine
100 gm brown sugar
250 gm of potatoes
zest of 1 lemon
Covering (3 types, there are many more)
50 gm pine nuts
50 gm chopped almonds
50 gm of grated coconut
Boil the potatoes, skin on, for 20 to 30 minutes till they turn tender. Drain the water out and let the potatoes cool. Once cool peel and and mash in a bowl, where you will later mix in the rest of the ingredients. Preheat oven to 350 °F (175 °C). Knead or process the almond meal, sugar and lemon zest, then add the mashed potatoes to form a thick paste. Roll the mixture into 3-4 cm balls. Roll the balls, each, into one of the coverings and place on a baking sheet. Brush each panellet with egg white. Bake the panellets for 10 to 15 minutes, until the tops have browned. Remove and place them on a plate. Let them cool before eating. Panellets can be stored in a cool dry place out of direct sunlight or in the fridge.