The Catalan gastronomy has a lot to offer those who appreciate food. Those who have a special taste for savory things will enjoy the region’s butifarras, paellas, and all things seafood. Those who have more of a sweet tooth also have plenty to enjoy, with a variety of sweets that are eaten at different times of the year. In this article, we will talk about the most typical Catalan sweets.
The turrón is not technically a Catalan invention but it sure is popular among the people of the region, particularly around the Christmas season. The basic turrón or in Catalan, turró, is created with a mix of almonds, sugar, honey and egg whites, but there is actually a wide variety to choose from. The most popular types of turrón are the one from Alicante, which if hard, and the one from Jijona, which is soft. If you want to have an authentic Catalan turrón, try the one from Agramunt. If you want something completely different, then make sure you visit specialized turrón venues, where you will be able to find such variations as truffle turrón, chocolate turrón, coconut turrón, and pistachio turrón.
Buñuelos are a type of pastry made with flour, eggs, water and/or milk, which is then deep fried and many times, covered in sugar. Buñuelos are consumed in a large number of countries in the world, including Argentina, France, Panamá, and Bolivia. In Spain, they are eaten at different times of the year and prepared in different ways depending on the region. In Catalonia, buñuelos are mostly consumed during Lent. They are somewhat reminiscent of churros, which are also made of sweet dough and deep fried.
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Tortel de Reyes
Known also as roscón de reyes, this is an especially colorful pastry that is usually consumed on January 6th, the day in which the Spanish people celebrate the Three Kings and when they exchange the gifts most of the world exchanges on Christmas. The tortel de reyes is a round, puffy pastry, usually filled with marzipan, covered in crystallized fruits and dried nuts. People know to bite carefully into each slice of the tortel, since somewhere in the pastry is either an uncooked fava bean, a ceramic figure or something else hard. The person who is lucky enough to get the slice with this treat gets to be the one to buy the tortel the following holiday season.
Xuixos are a cylindrical-shaped viennoiserie pastry which is filled with the famous creama catalana. This, like the buñuelos, is also deep fried and covered in crystalized sugar. This type of sweet, which sometimes can also resemble a croissant, was originally created in the region of Girona and it comes with a very amusing legend. It is said that, many decades ago, the people became sick and were put under quarantine. Tarlà, a gifted acrobat, decided to keep everyone’s spirits up by putting on shows and ended up falling in love with the daughter of a pastry chef. One day, the chef entered the bakery with a bag of flower, which made Tarlà sneeze and get caught. Tarlà promised to marry the baker’s daughter and, to appease the man’s nerves, offered him the recipe for this pastry, which was then named after his sneeze, which sounded something like “xui!”.
Panellets are small, ball-shaped sweets that are typical of not only Catalonia but also other regions of Spain like Ibiza and Valencia. Typically eaten on November 1st, All Saints Day, with a side of muscatel, the panellets come in a variety of tastes, like chocolate, coffee, coconut, and other. The base of the panellet is made with eggs, ground almonds, sugar, and just a smidge of lemon.
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Polvorones are traditionally from the south of Spain but they have been fully adopted by the Catalan people as a sweet of their own. Polvorones are relatively round-shaped, made out of sugar, milk, almond and flour. Like any sweet that has become very popular to have around the holidays, the polvorones started popping up in a variety of flavors, like orange, chocolate, and vanilla.
Neules are very light, tasty biscuits made out of flour, butter, egg whites, and sugar. The neules are long and tube-shaped, very fragile to the touch. They are usually eaten around Christmas time, and can now are available in a variety of tastes, like chocolate and turrón. They can be found in almost any supermarket and they make a great combination with ice cream or a nice cup of hot chocolate.
* Main photo by Arquera via Visualhunt
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