Apr 22, 2014

Triple Orange Mexican Cookies - Polvorones de Naranja

Karen's Kitchen Stories: Triple Orange Mexican Cookies - Polvorones de Naranja

Polvorones are a Mexican sugar or shortbread cookie. According to the collective brains of Wikipedia, they are derived from a Spanish cookie. In the United States, they are often referred to as Mexican wedding cookies.

This triple orange version, or Polvorones de Naranja, contains orange zest, orange juice, and orange liqueur. For these, I used tangelos from our 50 year old tree that seems to survive in a sliver of clay in our backyard patio. These cookies can also be flavored with nuts, chocolate, cinnamon, or vanilla.

Karen's Kitchen Stories: Triple Orange Mexican Cookies - Polvorones de Naranja

The cookies are super crumbly and melt in your mouth. The name polvorones is derived from the Spanish word "polvo," or "powder" in English.

Karen's Kitchen Stories: Triple Orange Mexican Cookies - Polvorones de Naranja

This month the Creative Cookie Exchange Group is baking Cinco de Mayo inspired cookies and I wanted to do something authentic. To approach this challenge, I dug out my 1965 copy of Complete Book of Mexican Cooking by Elisabeth Lambert Ortiz, the first cookbook I ever owned. She is considered one of the first "scholar cooks."

Her story about learning about the Mexican kitchen as the wife of a diplomat is fascinating. As a woman of privilege, she was discouraged from cooking while living in Mexico City. I think it was the only authentic Mexican cookbook available at the time.

Karen's Kitchen Stories: Triple Orange Mexican Cookies - Polvorones de Naranja

The recipe in Elisabeth's book was very similar to one I found in Pati's Mexican Table: The Secrets of Real Mexican Home Cooking. Score! I loved how Pati used citrus to flavor her cookies.

These cookies are crumbly and citrusy, but not particularly sweet. They are perfect with coffee or tea. I added vanilla, and a little bit of salt, which I understand is not very traditional. Omit the salt if you want to be more authentic.

Triple Orange Mexican Cookies - Polvorones de Naranja

Makes 30 to 36 cookies


8 ounces (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 cup powdered sugar, plus more for dusting the finished cookies
1 large egg
1 egg yolk
1 T packed orange zest (I used tangelo zest)
1/4 C freshly squeezed orange juice (I used tangelo zest)
2 T orange liqueur 
1 tsp vanilla
3 1/2 C all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt (omit to be more authentic)
1/2 tsp baking soda


  1. Place the butter and powdered sugar in a food processor and pulse a few times, until just combined. 
  2. Add the egg, egg yolk, zest, juice, liqueur, and vanilla, and pulse until mixed. 
  3. Add the flour and baking soda and pulse until the dough just comes together. 
  4. Scrape the dough out onto the counter and press it together. 
  5. Wrap it with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 24 hours. 
  6. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line two baking sheets with parchment. 
  7. Form the dough into 1 1/2 inch balls and place them 1 inch apart on the baking sheet. Gently press them down to slightly flatten. 
  8. Bake the cookies, one sheet at a time, for 18 to 20 minutes. Cool on a rack.
  9. Dust generously with powdered sugar. Can be stored up to 5 days in an airtight container. 

The theme this month's Creative Cookie Exchange is Cinco de Mayo - and what better way to celebrate than baking cookies! If you are a blogger and you'd like to become a member, just contact Laura at thespicedlife AT gmail DOT com and she will get you added to our Facebook group, where we discuss our cookies and share links.

You can also just use us as a great resource for cookie recipes--be sure to check out our Facebook page, our Pinterest Board, and our monthly posts. You will be able to find them the first Tuesday after the 15th of each month! Also, if you are looking for inspiration to get in the kitchen and start baking, check out what all of the hosting bloggers have made:


  1. What an awesome cookbook to have - authentic and back from 1965. What a treasure. And what great cookies to bake for Cinco de Mayo with the bright citrus flavor.

  2. These cookies both sound and look delicious! I would love to try them :)

  3. I love your citrus twist on this classic cookie, Karen. And I am extremely jealous of your tangelo tree!

  4. Muchos gracias for your lovely citrusy wedding cookies recipe..My mother-in-law apparently made beautiful wedding cookies (well all her baked goods were spectacular.) But, I do believe your version of the recipe would bring a nostalgic smile to the hard working husband's face =)

    P.s. Fascinating, too, about the adventures Elisabeth Lambert Ortiz. I'd like to put her book on my reading list =)

  5. These look like they would just melt right in your mouth. And I love the citrus addition! I'm so jealous you have a tangelo tree. They're my fave! Definitely will be saving this recipe! :)

  6. Love all the orange in there!!! What a great Mexican cookie for Cinco de Mayo!!!

  7. Orange is a perfect twist on these wedding cookies. They look ready for a special occasion for sure.

  8. Love the story behind these cookies Karen, very interesting. Sounds delicious!

  9. I love that these cookies have a triple dose of orange, and just a dusting of powdered sugar.

  10. Polvorones! Great minds think alike! :D Love the orange twist!


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