Venezuelan Shortbread Cookies called Polvorosas, are one of the most popular and easy to make Venezuelan confectionery. They are so-called Polvorosas because they melt in your mouth like dust when made properly. These delicious cookies have their origin in colonial times, Venezuelan cuisine have strong Spanish influences therefore you could find similar cookies in Spain called Polvorones (these made with almonds as well). Polvorosas are very popular among children and adults most traditionally consumed during Christmas but they are also eaten year-round. Similar versions of Polvorosas can be found in other Latin American countries such as Colombia and Argentina, with slight variations in the recipe.
This is one of my favourite Shortbread Cookies as they are also super easy to make.
“This entry has been moved from my old blog miexperienciaculinaria.com, translated and updated on 29/09/2020.”
What ingredients do you need to make Shortbread Cookies Venezuelan Polvorosas?
Simple ingredients that you most likely already have in your kitchen to make my version of Shortbread Cookies, flour, butter, sugar, salt, and cinnamon, if you fancy some gorgeous looking cookies icing sugar to decorate. Follow this ratio to easily remember the recipe 2:1:1, 2 parts flour, 1 part fat, 1 part sugar.
Plain flour will do for this recipe, if you want to make them gluten-free this recipe is very forgiving so you can substitute for your favourite gluten-free plain flour blend on an almost 1:1 ratio. Take the following considerations for gluten-free flour*:
- Increase cooking time as gluten-free flour takes longer to cook, check them constantly to ensure they are not browning too much.
- Leave out a couple of tablespoons and check the dough consistency as gluten-free flour tends to need more moisture, instead of cutting the cookies, roll them out with your hands, I can assure you if you leave the dough on the softer side they will end with a closer texture to the ones made with normal flour.
I’ve also used precooked cornmeal flour as a substitute resulting in a crunchier texture but a little less delicate than the ones made with flour, next time I might try blending the cornmeal to get a fine powder and adjusting cooking time.
Fat can be used in the same ratio given above, the options are as follows:
The traditional Venezuelan recipe relies on Vegetable Shortening to achieve the crumbly consistency and melt in your mouth effect so why I don’t use it? Well, I am yet to find a vegetable shortening brand in Australia that gives me good results as the ones I used to bake with back in Venezuela, in saying this if you get your hands in Crisco Vegetable Shortening brand sold online in Australia, I recommend trying out as the result using vegetable shortening is amazing.
Lard (animal fat)
On the other hand, I’ve used animal fat (lard) with good texture results, cookies were super flaky and crumbly but they had a strange after taste (maybe it was the brand I used at that time), if you don’t mind having an interesting savoury flavour in your cookies you can try Lard for baking, I can recommend YorkFoods Prime Lard which is specialised for baking, this will make these cookies not suitable for vegans or vegetarians.
Use unsalted butter if choosing butter, this will be my preferred option at the moment as it gives the cookies an extra richness, they crumb a little bit different than the ones made with shortening but they are so good. My recipe suggests using butter but you won’t be making these just once so try different options and decide which one you like the best.
I am yet to try this version but I think it will make an excellent substitution for vegans and a healthier version in regards to Fats, my only concern is that is using virgin coconut oil it might add a coconutty flavour to the end result if you don’t like it try using refined coconut oil which has a neutral flavour in both cases go for solid coconut oil and substitute on a 1:1 ratio. If you make this variation let me know how did you go.
The best option here is using caster sugar, which refined sugar in a finer version allowing it to blend easily and which granulates will melt faster in the oven.
Can you use less sugar?
Yes, you certainly can, I make this recipe with half the sugar and still love it, specially if I am dusting the cookies with icing sugar at the end, this variations will result in a less crumbly cookie as well more like a butter cookie but still delicious.
Can you use sugar substitutes/sweeteners?
You could, but I recommend using granular ones when possible, any wet sweetener or syrups will mess up this dough. Use the recommended ratio in the sweetener package, this might affect the volume of the dough and result in fewer cookies.
Step by Step Photos
Tips to make Shortbread Cookies Venezuelan Polvorosas
- Use room temperature ingredients.
- Avoid overworking the dough as this can activate the gluten and end in rock hard cookies, knead until you incorporate the ingredients, the dough might look crumbly but that’s the beauty of this recipe, it should be able to come together when you press it with your hands.
- If you find the dough too hard to knead you could add an extra tablespoon of fat, do not add water as it will result in a totally different consistency, also ensure that the fat source is at room temperature before starting otherwise you will end using some grease elbow here.
- If you find the dough too wet, which can be the case of using butter that is too soft, try leaving it to rest in the fridge for half an hour before cutting out the biscuits.
- The easiest and faster way to form the cookies is flattening the dough and cutting out with a cookie cutter but alternatively, they can be rolled out into 3 -4 cm balls and then flatten with the back of a spoon or your hand slightly and then you can grab a knife and mark a cross on top, this shape is particularly popular in bakeries in Venezuela and the kids love it.
- These cookies get better with time, try saving some to eat the next day and you will see how the icing sugar blends with the cookies to make an even more delicious melt in your mouth texture.
Shortbread Cookies (Venezuelan Polvorosas)Course: DessertsDifficulty: Easy
Delicious and crumbly melt in your mouth Shortbread Cookies called Polvorosas, one of the most popular desserts found in Venezuela and Latin America. They are easy to customise as well and very forgiving recipe allowing to adapt to gluten-free and vegan options.
250 g of all-purpose flour
125 g of unsalted butter
125 g of sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp of salt
Icing sugar (optional)
- Pre-heat oven at 180C
- Add all the ingredients in a bowl and start crumbling with your hands, until you get a consistency of bread crumbs.
- Knead for about 3-5 min until a ball starts to form, the dough will be still crumbly like short pastry.
- Compact the dough and flatten with a rolling pin to 1 cm thickness.
- With a cookie cutter, cut out circles of about 3-5 cm in diameter, carefully remove the cookies, and compact the rest of the dough again to continue cutting cookies until finished with all the dough.
- Arrange them on a lightly greased baking tray or prepared tray with baking paper leaving at least 1 cm of separation between them as they may puff a little.
- Bake in a preheated oven for 15 to 20 min (this will vary depending on the thickness of the cookies) until they are slightly golden underneath, do not let them brown too much on top.
- Let them sit for a couple of minutes so they don’t crumble and remove them and let them cool in a wire rack.
- Sprinkle with icing sugar (optional) and serve.
- Polvorosas must be stored in an airtight container and are best consumed within 3-5 days.
- Freezable? Yes, they can be frozen before baking for up to 3 months, to freeze form the cookies and arrange in baking paper in layers without touching, cook from frozen increase baking time for 5-10 min so they cook thoroughly.
- Variations: Substitute the cinnamon for a different spice like nutmeg, for a fruity addition add a teaspoon of orange or lemon zest. Try vanilla extract or few drops of almond essence. For extra texture substitute 1/4 to 1/2 a cup of flour for 1/4 to 1/2 a cup of finely ground skinless almonds, almond meal, toasted ground walnuts, pistachio, or brazil nuts.