Perrunillas are from Extremadura, which is an autonomous community in the southwest area of Spain, bordering on Portugal. Extremadura is better known for being its ham, cheeses and pimenton, or paprika. Perrunillas were typically made for all kinds of celebrations and special occasions, such as patron saint festivals, Carnival, and baptisms. In days gone by, the bride's family would prepare a variety of sweets, like perrunillas.
Perrunillas are a very traditional sweet, originally made with lard for that rich taste and melt-in-your-mouth feel. This updated version uses vegetable shortening instead, as well as sugar, eggs, flour, lemon peel, a touch of cinnamon and a splash of liqueur. Just before baking, coat the tops with beaten egg white and a bit of sugar. The egg white and sugar will give the cookies a shiny golden coating.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Yield: 2 dozen cookies
- 1 1/4 cups (250 gr) vegetable shortening
- 1 1/4 cups (250 gr) granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 3/4 oz (25 ml) aguardiente liqueur or anise liqueur
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- grated peel of 1 lemon
- 3 1/2 tsp (16 gr) baking powder
- 3 1/2 cups (500 gr) all-purpose flour
- 1 egg white
- granulated sugar
Substitution Note: If aguardiente or anise liqueur is not available, substitute another liqueur of your choice.
Place vegetable shortening in a large glass mixing bowl, and heat the shortening in a microwave oven, just until very soft and almost melted.
Add the sugar to the shortening and beat with an electric mixer. Add the liqueur, cinnamon and eggs and continue mixing.
Grate lemon peel and mix in to the shortening mixture.
In a separate bowl, mix together flour and baking powder.
Heat oven to 400F degrees (200C).
Add the flour-baking powder mixture to the rest of the ingredients, while beating.
Knead the dough until it becomes a homogeneous mass. It should not be sticky. Form dough into a single ball.
Pinch off small amounts of the dough and form small, egg-shaped pieces about 2-3 inches long. Using a teaspoon or your thumb, press each cookie to make a depression in the center. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet.
Beat egg white in a small bowl. Brush perrunillas with the beaten egg white, then sprinkle each with a touch of sugar.
Bake perrunillas on center rack of oven for 10 minutes, until they are golden brown. Remove carefully from the cookie sheet with a spatula, since the cookies will be very soft. Cool on a rack.