Pan de polvo has been in my family as long as tamales have. My Tia Sarita would make them for every wedding, baby shower, and for holidays every year and I remember whenever we heard of someone getting married or pregnant my sisters and I knew that we’d get to taste her coveted pan de polvo cookies, a treat that was made special by spending time with family.
I don’t know how best to describe these cookies because at first sight they seem like typical sugar cookies and many won’t even give them a second glance but go ahead, give them a try and I dare you to stop at one cookie. There’s just something about the crumbly cookie covered in sugar, cinnamon, and anise that is like no other cookie you have ever tasted.
My Tia Sarita passed away a few years ago but my cousins were able to salvage her recipe and while this is a recipe pieced together by my sisters and I, it’s still pretty darn close to what we had in our childhood. Nothing will ever match her cookies but these definitely came close.
Aside from this amazing recipe I wanted to share my experience in tamale making with my friend Yulia from The Foodie Miles. This year was the first year that I made tamales without a matriarch to guide me. It was an amazing accomplishment and thanks to my sister, my friend Yulia, The Dad, and Jack – we survived a day of making 80 tamales! Check out the recipe and blog post about it above and watch the video too!
Pan De Polvo
Pan de Polvo, translated means powdered bread and while many will think of cookies covered in powdered sugar, pan de polvo is a very soft cookie that crumbles easily. They are coated in cinnamon, sugar, and anise.
Heat tea by adding about 4 to 5 sticks of cinnamon and two bags of anise tea or a 1/4 cup anise seed to 1.5 cups water. Heat uncovered for about 5 minutes or until boiling.
Whip the vegetable shortening in your Kitchen Aid Mixer until soft.
Add about .75 cups of anise tea and stir with a spoon.
In a separate bowl mix your flour, salt and baking powder.
Add sugar into vegetable shortening and tea and mix for about 1 minute. Be careful, it may splash back.
Add the flour mixture a cup at a time.
If it's too sticky add a little bit of flour. If it's too dry add some anise tea. It will fall apart more easily than regular cookie dough.
Once it's done you'll want to work with smaller "balls" of dough at a time because if you try and roll it all out you'll be very frustrated trying to take out all the small cookies as the dough is very fine and falls apart easily. Separate your dough into 4 to 6 parts.
Roll out one part between wax paper because you don't want to add more flour and the dough sticks to everything pretty easily. Using small cookie cutters cut out whatever shapes you'd like. I used Christmas trees and gingerbread people. * Use only small cookie cutters. The larger ones will make it near impossible to get your cookie up and onto a cookie sheet.
Bake your first round for about 8 to 10 minutes until the edges are golden brown. While they are baking go ahead and start your other round because it's a bit time consuming.
Let your cookies rest for about a minute before going to your cinnamon sugar mix and using a spoon dunk them into the mix. These cookies are fragile and break easily so be gentle with them. This has to be down while they're still warm or the mix won't stick.
You'll pick up a rhythm of cutting, baking, dunking. Before you know it you'll have about a hundred cookies to give away to families, friends, whoever.
*Use only small cookie cutters
*The dough will be very very delicate
*Use the anise from tea bags or by whole anise and grind it for the cinnamon sugar anise mix.