We continue with the theme of Halloween/All saints this week by presenting you with this traditonal Spanish and spooky sweet treat: los huesos de santo (the bones of saints).
The “huesos de santo” are white desserts with an elongated and cylindrical shape, made of marzipan and filled with sweet yolk, so their appearance reminds us of a bone. They are typical of Spain and tradition dictates that they should be eaten both during Easter and on All Saints’ Day. Their fame is widespread throughout Spain and the production of these sweets dates back to the beginning of the 17th century.
There are few cooking inventions whose origin and history are subject to more intense controversy than marzipan. For some, it is a “March bread” (marzo+pan in Spanish) and, according to others, it is “pan de maza”, referring to the patient work of milling is required to create it. Regardless, the most probable etymology comes from the Arabic manthaban. Manthaban can be translated as “seated king”, seemingly refererng to the marzipans of Muslim Hispania, who used to engrave the figure of a seated caliph.
However, specialists of this dessert claim that the bones of saints date back to the time when Christianity and paganism coexisted in Europe. It was then that a monk created this bone shaped dessert with a marzipan base, taking advantage of the fact that the festivity coincides with the almond season. Above all, however, he did so in order to detract from the pagan celebration of the Celtic New Year (Samhain), which coincided with All Saints’ Day.
There is no doubt that this food is a Mediterranean product, and much older than some suppose.
– 200 gr. of sugar
– 150 gr. of ground almond
– 100 ml. of water
– Powdered sugar
– 100 grs. of sugar
– 4 egg yolks
– 50 gr. of water.
Preparation of the “Huesos de Santo”:
Prepare a syrup with the water and the sugar. Gradually add the almond to form a dough. Leave to cool.
2. Also make another syrup with the water and the sugar, and when it is ready, add it little by little to the beaten yolks.
3. Introduce the mixture in the container where the syrup has been made and heat it in the bain-marie, avoiding boiling it because the dough could be damaged. Once it has thickened well, let it cool down.
4. Take the marzipan and knead it with a rolling pin, sprinkling the whole surface with icing sugar to obtain a white appearance of the bones.
5. Make square strips of the dough in a size you deem fit, but large enough to make the rolls. Each square strip is rolled into a stick 1 cm. thick (it may be worth a pencil or chopsticks to measure the size against).
6. Make sure that sprinkle each comb with icing sugar to prevent the dough from sticking. Remove the dough from the stick and let it cool down, and then fill it with the yolk paste.
Written by Marta Guillén Martínez – Communication Trainee at the Terminology Coordination Unit of the European Parliament (Luxembourg). She holds a Degree in Advertising and Public Relations from the University of Alicante, Spain and she did her European Voluntary Service on communication and european youth mobility in Milan, Italy. She speaks Spanish, Catalan, English and Italian.