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Bento Recipes: Mantecados


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A Spanish coworker brought a bunch of lemony almondy shortbread cookies back after spending Christmas in her hometown. They were called "mantecados," they were delicious, and they left an amazing amount of crumbs everywhere. I spent a while trying to find a recipe on the web. None I found were similar - most were missing the lemon and almond, and the one I tried had the proportions all wrong, so instead of cookies I ended up with a swamp on a cookie sheet. So, I backward-engineered a recipe based on Scotch shortbread. Maria gave them a thumbs-up, so I'll call them a success and pass the recipe on to you.

Tall stack of shortbreadWhat you need:
  • 1 cup of butter at room temperature
  • 2 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup of confectioner's sugar
  • 1/4 tsp of salt
  • 1/2 cup of blanched almonds
  • zest from 1 lemon

Preheat the oven to 325. Chop the nuts as fine as you can, but don't worry if you end up with a lot of nut gravel; that'll add to the taste and texture of the cookies. To get lemon zest, take a fine grater and grate an uncut lemon - but only get the yellow part on the outside of the peel, which has the flavor you want. Rubbing it lightly as opposed to pressing the lemon down, and rotating the lemon as you go, works best.

Cream the butter in a bowl. Sift the flour, sugar, and salt together into the butter, then add almonds and zest. Mix until the texture is sticky and cookie-dough-ish. Press the dough into a 9x9 pan lined with parchment paper and smooth it out. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until it browns lightly. Cut it into squares while still warm and soft, and let it cool and harden before eating.