Mantecaditos hold a very special place in my heart, as they take me back to a special time in my childhood. My grandfather, Julio Avila, had a bakery here in Tampa in the mid-to-late 80’s to early 90’s. I remember staying with my grandmother during the day, as she took care of my sister and I while my parents were at work. We would play with the chickens and goats, run across the few acres they had and play pretend, and swing on a tire swing that hung on a large oak tree for hours at a time. I have a distinct fond memory of my grandfather coming home one day and baking a large batch of mantecaditos topped with the little round ball sprinkles. To this day, I cannot pass a Latin bakery without smiling and getting one of these cookies for nostalgic sake. The smell always takes me back to my grandmother’s living room while my sister and I patiently waited for these cookies to come out of the oven.
Mantecaditos are a traditional almond short bread cookie from Puerto Rico. The word “Manteca” translates to shortening or lard. There are many variations to this wonderful cookie but traditionally, most follow the recipe from the book “Cocina Criolla”, by Carmen Aboy Valldejuli.
I have used the original recipe as a template and have created a gluten and dairy free version by using almond flour, omitting the butter, and adding an egg yolk. I looked at many gluten free recipes in order to make a short bread cookie to ensure the crispness and crumbliness that make this cookie so special. The smell, the bite, the crumbs. I was back in my grandparents house.
I hope you enjoy my gluten free version of this cookie.
Yields: 24 thumb print sized cookies
2 C. Almond Flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 c. Organic evaporated cane juice OR coconut sugar
1/2 c. Organic vegetable shortening (or half shortening, half butter)
1 egg yolk
1 tsp. pure almond extract
Sprinkles, pastel de Guyaba, or dried cherries ( for decoration, optional)
Preheat oven to 330 degrees.
1. Combine all dry ingredients in large bowl, set aside.
2. Combine all the wet ingredients in a small bowl.
3. Combine the wet with the dry and mix until well incorporated.
4. Pinch off quarter sized ball of dough, roll, and press your thumb on the top of the cookie when placed on the cookie sheet.
5. Top with sprinkles, cherries, or guayaba (optional)
6. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until the edges begin to slightly brown.
7. Let the cookies cool on the cookie sheet for 10 minutes before removing, as they will crumble if handled to prematurely.
Store in an air tight container for 3 days or freeze. The dough can also be made ahead of time and frozen for a month. If freezing the dough, make sure that it is wrapped tightly with seran wrap, doubled, and in a freezer lock bag. Foods that contain a high fat content can absorb flavors or smells of other foods if not wrapped up tightly and correctly.