The most popular Spanish Christmas pastry in my area of Spain, pastissets are a type of empanadilla that is often filled with a sweet boniato filling.
Last time I shared with you how to make dulce de boniato, a Spanish pastry filling that is popular at Christmas time. It is made with boniato, a white sweet potato. When I shared the recipe, you were probably thinking “That's all fine and good, but where am I supposed to use that?!?!”
Today I am going to resolve that little problem and share with you a recipe for a grain free almond pastry dough that can be used for making pastissets, the most popular Christmas pastries in my area of Spain. Pastissets are a type of sweet empanada, and they are also referred to as pastelitos or empanadillas dulces when speaking in Spanish because the term “pastissets” is actually the Valencian or Catalan name for them.
Pastissets can be made with either a wheat flour based dough or an almond flour based one. While the wheat flour based pastry is probably more commonly used, I much prefer the almond flour based one even if being gluten/grain free weren't an issue. I think that the wheat flour based pastry is more often made because it is a lot cheaper and a little bit easier to make. The almond flour based pastry is more delicate, so you have to be more careful when forming your pastries, but it is definitely worth the extra effort.
Once they are made, the results are spectacular. The pastry itself is reminiscent of marzipan, which combines perfectly with the sweet boniato filling.
I've adapted this recipe from a friend of mine, Victoria Monera, who also has two blogs of her own. If you are looking to practice your Spanish, they might both be of interest to you. She shares her recipe for the pastry dough on a blog filled with recipes, stories and other articles, but her other blog, españolextranjeros.com, is filled with grammar exercises for those who are either studying or teaching Spanish.
Her recipe uses a kilogram of almond flour, which reflects the way that most people here make pastissets by getting together with family and friends and making a large batch so that they can share with others. I decided to quarter her recipe to make it more practical for making in one home. When quartered, you can make 6 relatively large pastissets.
Apart from the amount used, I also changed the amount of sugar and the type of sugar used. The original recipe calls for white table sugar, but I replaced it with coconut sugar and honey in my batch. I was a little bit concerned about the added moisture that honey would add to the recipe, but my dough was very dry and I was having a hard time getting it to form together anyway, so the added honey actually helped make a moldable dough. If you are using a large egg, though, you may find that adding honey could make your dough a bit too sticky. In that case, you may want to consider using all coconut sugar instead. (If you are already in that sort of sticky situation, adding some more almond flour should help you fix it.)
Pastissets are usually brought out after meals around Christmas time accompanied with other typical Spanish Christmas treats like mantecados, polvorones and turrón. You can see that almonds take center stage in Spanish Christmas treats. I may have to tackle turrón next year so that I can share that one with you too. 🙂
Pastissets de Boniato
Pastissets de Boniato: Sweet Spanish Christmas Pastries
- Mix together all of the ingredients in a bowl until well combined.
- Form 6 golf ball sized balls out of the mixture.
- Preheat the oven to 320ºF/160ºC.
- Wet your hands and press the dough flat into a disc with around a half centimeter thickness. You can use a humid cloth to help press it flat, or can also use some parchment paper or a rolling pin. I found the combination of using my hands and using the parchment paper to be the easiest.
- Fill with dulce de boniato or any other pastry filling of choice. (I used around a tablespoon of filling for each one.)
- Carefully fold the pastry in half over the filling and seal the edges by pressing on them.
- Place on a baking tray lined with parchment paper or well greased and bake for 10-15 minutes until the pastry loses most of its moisture and slightly crisps. There is no need to let them turn golden brown.
- Remove from the oven to cool and then serve.