Thursday, November 25, 2010

Convent Cookies (Galletas de Convento)

This recipe was great for some afternoon tea cookies, and as I was enjoying the extremely rich and melt-in-your-mouth delights, I was thanking the ancient tradition that Mexican recipes have. You can actually taste that tradition and can only imagine with how much care these recipes were created. This one comes from the nuns, who found a way to escape from the rigors of religion by experimenting with new flavours in the Kitchen. In Mexico, it is very well known that nuns are great cooks and are big contributors to the immense sweet options we can find in Mexican Cuisine. In History of the Gastronomy in Mexico City, Salvador Novo wrote, "And when sugar arrived to this land, the fruits of this were absorbed through the delicate hands of the nuns". There is a vast selection of candies that nuns have been making for centuries, in the old days convents got additional income by selling their culinary creations as well as from teaching rich girls how to set a table and bake amongst other things. Nowadays you can still find some convents that prepare several of the sweets found in that time; especially in the state of Puebla, where every corner from the downtown area is full of Candy stores that only sell Authentic Mexican Candy.

The original recipes asks for Almonds but after getting all my ingredients ready I realized I only had pistachios, so I used them instead. OH! let me tell you it was a great substitute... absolutely amazing!!!

Convent Cookies (Galletas de Convento)


1 cup of whole almonds skin on (I used pistachios instead)
1 cup of sugar Plus extra for topping
1/4 cup water
7 oz unsalted butter softened
5 egg yolks
1/4 tsp salt
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (sifted)
2 egg whites
sliced or slivered almonds, for topping (whole pistachios)


Toast the almonds until golden and let cool completely. Combine the water and sugar in a small sauce pan, wipe the edges with a wet brush and cook until it turns golden. By wipping the edges you avoid the sugar to crystallize. Once golden, add the almonds, stir quickly and pour onto a baking sheet previously greased or with parchment paper. Let cool and then grind in a food processor until it looks like sugar rocks.

Cream the butter in a mixer until pale and fluffy, then add the egg yolks one at a time. In a separate bowl combine the flour with the salt and add gradually to the butter mixture. Finally add the caramelized almonds until combined. Roll the dough to about a 1/4 inch thickness. If it is very sticky you can roll the dough to the size of your baking sheet between 2 parchment papers and then freeze it for 10 mins so it gets easier to handle. Once ready cut out 2 1/2 inch circles of dough and place on the prepared baking sheet (greased or with parchment paper).

Preheat oven to 350°F
Beat the egg whites and brush the top of the cookies. Decorate with a slice of almond and a bit of sugar. Bake until the edges begin to brown, for about 10 mins. Let cool for 5 mins and then transfer to a wire wrack to cool completely.


  1. Simply lovely. Just what I crave with my evening tea.

  2. I would imagine pistachios would be an INCREDIBLE substitute. I love them in everything, especially buttery or eggy cookies. (and ice cream!)
    I have never heard of this cookie and do not know much about Mexican cuisine, so also enjoyed the read.

  3. What lovely cookies. I can understand why the pistachios would be a great substitution. It's a shame you don't them in more recipes.

  4. Yes, nuns have contributed a lot to the richness of our cuisine, rompope, chiles en nogada and these delicious looking cookies are just a few examples. Thanks for sharing this recipe and the story behind it! Now I need some to go with my coffee :)

  5. Wow, I think both of them pistachio or almond...the cookies look awesome, and sure I'd love with a cup of tea :-)