Panellets de Pinyons for Dia de los Muertos

For this month's round of our Eat the World Recipe Challenge we are visiting Spain.  At least I am.  Actually, the theme is meant to be Halloween in a country of our choice.  And I picked Spain, partly due to a nephew recently moved there and another, his brother, visiting at the moment.  Instead of the American traditional  Halloween, Spain celebrates with a three day holiday honoring deceased relatives.  It is a time when family members come home to pay their respects to the dead, decorate tombstones with flowers, prepare meals together and attend church.  The festivities kick off on October 31st with Dia de las Brujas (Day of the Witches), continues with Dia de Todas los Santos (All Saints Day) on November 1st, and finishes off with Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) on Nov. 2nd.  To discover what all is happening for the holiday in Spain, go to Halloween in Spain for a ton of celebrations and attractions.

It goes without saying that special holiday foods are involved in all this, therefore... from my source for our Eat the World foodie departure, HolaFoodie, comes the following information:
"All Saints Day is quickly approaching and in traditional Eastern Spain that means eating buñuelos, roast chestnuts and the very delicious panellets. These marzipan-based sweets are very popular in Catalonia, Valencia and the Balearic Islands, where you can find them in literally every single local bakery and or patisserie during the week preceding this popular festivity."

"Despite the presence of sweet potato as one of our recipe ingredients, it is important to notice that the original recipe is made with almond, sugar, egg and pine nuts only… or what it is the same, just traditional marzipan. The addition of either sweet potato or even regular potatoes is a much more recent contribution ... the result is a smoother texture and a much more moisturized marzipan. But of course, if you don’t agree with me or you simply would like to go for the most traditional recipe, just ignore the sweet potato and don’t add it to the rest of the ingredients. That easy!"

Panellets de Pinyons

150 g Ground almonds
125 g Icing sugar
125 g Pine nuts
75 g Sweet potato
Zest of 1 lemon
1 Egg

Wash the sweet potato. Double wrap it in cling film, prick the film with a fork and cook it on the microwave at maximum power for 10 minutes. Take it out and leave it aside to cool down before unwrapping it, being careful not to get burnt. Alternatively you can also cook the sweet potato in boiling water for around 20 minutes.
Peel the sweet potato and mash it thoroughly in a big bowl.
In a different bowl, mix the almonds, sugar and lemon zest.
Crack the egg and separate the white from the yolk. Add the egg white to the bowl and reserve the yolk for later.
Knead all the ingredients until you get a marzipan dough that has enough consistency to shape little balls. Add it to the mashed sweet potato and keep kneading until everything gets mixed thoroughly.
Cover the bowl with cling film and cool in the fridge for a couple of hours.
Take out of the fridge and shape little balls (3cm max) with the marzipan dough. As you make the balls, roll them over the pine nuts and place them on an oven dish covered with baking parchment.
Preheat the oven at 350ºF. In the meantime beat the egg yolk and with the help of a baking brush, paint the panellets all over so that they acquire a lovely golden colour when we bake them.
Once the oven temperature is ready, bake the panellets for 10-12 minutes or until golden.

Let them cool down before you eat them. If you are patient enough, they are actually better the day after. The recipe made 1 dozen, the size I rolled them anyway.  Popularly served with a cup of tea or glass of Spanish muscatel. I got some Cava, Spanish sparkling wine for the occasion, but never opened it.  Instead, we enjoyed the little treats with a lovely glass of Amontillado Los Arcos, a dry Spanish sherry, and a perfect pairing to my mind.  The cookies turned out to be quite delicious, and much lighter than I was expecting.

Be sure to visit all the participants for Eat the World  at the bottom of this post, to see what they have prepared for Halloween around the world.
I will also be linking up with Beth Fish Reads for her Weekend Cooking event - more good food and interesting book considerations.

Simply Inspired Meals: Halloween Soul Cakes
Sue: Pumpkin Crescent Moon Empanadas