Mexican Tricolor Shortbread Cookies

Anytime is a good time to bake Mexican tricolor shortbread cookies, also called shortening cookies (galletitas de manteca) or polvorones.

cookie tins with candy and cookies a homemade gift for the holidays

The Mexican tricolor shortbread cookies are a sponsored collaboration with Dixie Crystals.

The Mexican shortbread cookies are simple to make, and the flavor is sweet with a crumbly texture that melts in your mouth. The traditional recipe calls for ingredients such as confectioners sugar, vegetable shortening, or pork lard.

a cup with milk and coffee

These cookies are a staple in Mexican bakeries, but they make them the size of the palm of my hand. We decided to make them small and add them to our cookie Christmas tins we gift every year to family and friends.

The main ingredients for our recipe include vegetable shortening with butter flavor, all-purpose flour, Dixie Crystals confectioners sugar, salt, vanilla extract, cocoa powder, pink gel color, and egg.

a hand holding a cookie

Origin of the Mexican tricolor shortbread cookies or polvorones.

The making of these cookies dates from the time of the conquest. Each state in Mexico has its own “polvoron” version. Some bakers make these Mexican sugar cookies thick and round; others add colors (pink, yellow, and brown). Some include nuts, jam, and other flavors such as peanut and coffee-flavored dough.

Ingredients include shortening, flour and confectioners sugar
Step by step on how to prepare the cookie dough
Step by step on how to make the vanilla dough
Step by step on the dough consistency
Step by step on how to create the tricolor logs
Collage on how to bake the tricolor cookies

For example, in Coahuila, Nuevo Leon, and Michoacan, “hojarascas” (leaves) are famous Mexican cookies for special occasions. These cookies are Mexican shortbread bites mixed with pork lard, cinnamon, sugar, and clove. Then cut with a leaf-shaped cookie cutter.

These polvorones are a special treat for weddings, unlike the Mexican wedding cookies famous in the US. In Veracruz, the orange zest polvorones are round citrusy shortbread cookies paired with cafe con leche.

Collage on how to put together the cookie tins

Some Mexican shortbread cookie recipes recommend the use of maize flour instead of all-purpose wheat flour. Since corn is the base of the prehispanic menu, it is common to mix masa flour with all-purpose flour or maicena for a better structure and less crunchiness.

In the old times, pork was abundant; thus, pork lard in baking was a common practice. Nowadays, vegetable shortening is the choice for baking shortening cookies as it is inexpensive, but Mexican baking recipes can use butter for a richer flavor.

A plate with three Mexican tricolor cookies

Tips for making the best Mexican tricolor shortbread cookies.

These shortbread cookies are simple to make; however, a few tips will make the baking process fail-free. Follow the steps below for a successful result.

  • Use room temperature vegetable shortening or replace with butter or pork lard (more authentic taste). Shortbread cookies can use either fat.
  • Cream the shortening using a stand mixer (or a hand mixer) with a cake or cookie paddle. Do not whip excessively as that adds air to the shortbread dough.
  • Sift the flour and the confectioner’s sugar. Do not skip this step to achieve the crumbly texture characteristic of the Mexican tricolor shortbread cookies.
  • You can replace the wheat flour with maize for a gluten-free option. Do not use baking soda as it tends to puff the cookies and the colors won’t be as bright.
  • Use a large bowl to mix the ingredients and a wooden spoon if doing it by hand. The cookie dough will be soft and easy to form with the hands. Not sticky.
  • Divide the dough into equal parts and use gel food coloring. However, be conservative on the amount of dye as it can turn the cookie bitter.
  • When adding the cocoa powder, a teaspoon of shortening must be added for easy integration of the powder.
  • Egg whites help adhere the three colored logs to form one. Make sure to add it to keep the three logs together.
  • After forming the log shape wrap the dough in parchment paper and cover it with a large sheet of plastic wrap.
  • Refrigerate the cookie dough for a minimum of two hours before slicing the cookies and baking.
  • Use baking sheets covered with parchment paper as it prevents breakage.
  • Bake the Mexican cookies at 350F for 20 minutes. Do not overcook. You will know cookies are ready when the bottom looks barely light brown. If the edges turn brown the cookies are burnt.
  • Allow the shortening cookies to cool before lifting them from the baking tray. These Mexican tricolor cookies require cooling and hardening after baking.
  • Sprinkle the cookies with confectioners sugar or granulated sugar. Keep the cookies fresh in cookie tins or inside an airtight container for about five days.
Anytime is a good time to bake authentic Mexican tricolor shortbread cookies, also called shortening cookies (galletitas de manteca) or polvorones. The recipe calls for all-purpose flour, vegetable shortening, confectioners sugar, salt, vanilla extract, pink edible gel color.

Organize a cookie exchange and include the Mexican Tricolor Shortbread Cookies!

I have so many friends that love holiday baking as much as me. We organize a yearly Christmas cookie exchange to try everyone’s recipes and all the different cookies.

I can tell you these Mexican tricolor shortbread cookies, and the Mexican wedding cookies with pecans are among my friends’ favorites. You can bring this Mexican bakery classic treat to holiday potlucks or use them for gifting.

We like to purchase cookie tins at the dollar store, and we fill them with homemade cookies and prepare plenty to giveaway to friends and family. We also use them as impromptu gifts for teachers and to treat the delivery people and the mailman too.

Gifting sweet treats and shortening cookies is always a great idea, even more, when those come fresh from your kitchen!

Enjoying Mexican shortbread cookies with a cup fo cafe con leche
a plate with cookies dusted with powdered sugar

Mexican Tricolor Shortbread Cookies

Chef Adriana Martin
Anytime is a good time to bake Mexican tricolor shortbread cookies, also called shortening cookies (galletitas de manteca) or polvorones. The recipe calls for all-purpose flour, vegetable shortening, confectioners sugar, salt, vanilla extract, pink edible gel color.
5 from 29 votes
Prep Time 45 mins
Cook Time 5 hrs 20 mins
Refrigerating and cooling 2 hrs
Course Desserts
Cuisine Mexican Cuisine
Servings 24 cookies
Calories 132 kcal

Equipment

  • Stand Mixer
  • Sifter
  • Dough scrapper
  • Measuring Cups
  • Measuring spoons
  • Baking sheets
  • Parchment paper
  • Plastic wrap

Ingredients
  

  • 2 cups + 4 tablespoons shortening butter flavored 425 grams, and at room temperature
  • 3 3/8 cups Dixie Crystals confectioner's sugar 425 grams, sifted
  • 3 cups + 2 tbsp all-purpose flour 500 grams, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa for baking
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 pinch pink gel edible color
  • 1 tablespoon egg whites

Instructions
 

  • Cream the shortening using a stand mixer with a cake paddle.
  • Add the confectioner's sugar one spoon at a time until all the sugar dissolves and the shortening becomes a lighter color.
  • Incorporate the salt and keep mixing. Then add the vanilla extract until it gets integrated.
  • Change the cake paddle and replace it with a hook. And add the sifted flour in stages. Mix for 1-2 minutes at medium speed.
  • The texture of the dough must be soft but malleable enough o to a ball and should not stick to the fingers.
  • Dust the working table with flour and remove the cookie dough from the mixer. Roll it and form a log.
  • Divide the log into three equal portions. One is for the white color, another for the cocoa brown color, and the third is for the pink color.
  • Cut the white dough portion into two equal parts and form two thin logs. Wrap them in parchment paper and refrigerate them.
  • Mix the pink edible gel color with one of the dough portions to create the pink color. You can integrate with your hands or use the mixer for an even color.
  • Take the last portion of dough and mix with the cocoa powder plus 1 teaspoon of shortening. Use your hands or the mixer. Adding that extra portion of fat helps to hydrate the dough and evenly mix with the cocoa powder.
  • Repeat the same process with the cocoa dough by dividing and creating two more logs.
  • Use egg whites as the glue that will form the tricolor log. Brush some egg white on one side of the pink log and press the pink and cocoa logs together.
  • Brush more egg white on top of the cocoa and pink logs and place the white vanilla log on top.
  • Wrap the tricolor log in parchment paper, roll it and place it on a baking sheet. Then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least two hours before baking.
  • Preheat the oven to 350F and cover a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Remove the wrapping and cut thin slices. Place the cookie slices in the baking sheet giving proper spacing between each cookiee.
  • Bake for 20 minutes. Remove one cookie from the tray, and if the bottom is light brown, the cookies are ready.
  • If the edges of the cookie become dark brown, the cookies are overdone.
  • Allow the cookies to cool for 30-60 minutes. Dust them with confectioner's sugar and store them in cookie tins in an airtight container with a lid.
  • These Mexican shortbread cookies will stay fresh for about a week when properly stored.

Video

Notes

Grab the method and complete recipe details at DixieCrystals.com
  • Use room temperature vegetable shortening or replace with butter or pork lard (more authentic taste). Shortbread cookies can use either fat.
  • Cream the shortening using a stand mixer (or a hand mixer) with a cake or cookie paddle. Do not whip excessively as that adds air to the shortbread dough.
  • Sift the flour and the confectioner’s sugar. Do not skip this step to achieve the crumbly texture characteristic of the Mexican tricolor shortbread cookies.
  • You can replace the wheat flour with maize for a gluten-free option. Do not use baking soda as it tends to puff the cookies and the colors won’t be as bright.

Nutrition

Calories: 132kcalCarbohydrates: 14gProtein: 1gFat: 8gSaturated Fat: 2gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 1gSodium: 2mgPotassium: 10mgFiber: 1gSugar: 8gCalcium: 1mgIron: 1mg
Keyword baking, cookies, shortening
Tried this recipe?Mention @adrianasbestrecipes or tag #abrecipes on Instagram

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10 Comments
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Heidy McCallum

5 stars
These cookies look outstanding! I bet my husband and kids would devour them in a heartbeat. Thanks for the outstanding instructions and tips! Happy Holidays!

Tammy

5 stars
These look SO pretty, Adriana! What a fun and lovely cookie to make for the holidays.

Lakita

5 stars
These shortbread cookies are so sweet, pretty, and delicious. The perfect addition to holiday cookies this season.

Lauren Michael Harris

5 stars
These tricolor cookies are such a fun idea! My kids will love making and eating these!

Jessica

These are so cute! They remind me of Neopolitan ice cream. I’m going to give them a shot!

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