Saint’s Bones, marzipan treat – Huesos de Santo
During the last few weeks many of you have written me to ask me for 2 recipes for All Saints’ Day; buñuelos de viento, which I left you last week, and Huesos de Santo – Saint’s Bones. Nothing can make me happier than to have been able to leave you, in time, both recipes so that you can prepare them at home during this holiday.
I want you to know one thing, I don’t remember having tasted more tender, moist and wonderful Huesos de Santo than these I have prepared. This is not to say that those made in a bakery are not good. In fact, when I was a child, I do remember eating some that were very good… But not this. Last year we bought them in a bakery and we were disappointed. They were quite hard and dry, plus they had almost no flavor.
I insist that this is not generalized and that, for sure, there are pastry shops and bakeries that prepare spectacular Saint’s bones. But I have been very happy with the results I have obtained at home.
Huesos de Santo – Saint’s Bones origin.
It seems that both buñuelos de viento and huesos de santo, both have Moorish origins. They are considered a symbol of the millenary tradition of the cult of death worship, which is celebrated on November 1st.
The main element to make huesos de santo is marzipan. As I told you in the recipe for Marzipan Eel, this elaboration made with almonds was already known centuries before in Italy. There is a theory that the origin of marzipan comes from a monastery in Sicily and the Arab countries.
One of the versions maintains that marzipan could have been introduced in Europe from the south with the Muslim invasion of the Iberian Peninsula in the 8th century or from the east through the pilgrims and crusaders.
The most remote origin of marzipan seems to be Greek, a dessert made with almond paste and honey.
It is not known with certainty who was the creator of the famous saint’s bones, but it seems that they were prepared in order to compete with the traditional buñuelos de viento.
They are marzipan cilinders, similar in appearance to a bone with its marrow, which are usually textured with a specific rolling pin, filled with yolk pastry cream and covered with a glaze that helps preserve their freshness. In addition to giving them their characteristic finish. Nowadays, they can be found with an infinite number of fillings: chocolate, sweet potato, candied spaghetti squash, coconut…
One of the popular sayings about these pastries is that their appearance is reminiscent of a reliquary; this is a box or case where the relics and mementos of the Saints are kept.
A pastry with a millenary tradition.
It is said that it was a Benedictine monk who established the tradition of the saint’s bones as a way to make the citizens forget the pagan festivity of the Celts, which coincided with All Saints’ Day. Both the appearance of this pastry, as well as its name, reminded that it was the time when the dead return to earth.
On the other hand, the moment of its consumption coincided with the harvesting of almonds, the main base of these sweets.
Both buñuelos de viento, as Huesos de Santo, have a symbolism. According to tradition, when you eat a fritter (buñuelo), you take a soul out of purgatory.
As for Saint’s bones, they symbolize in a loving way the dead. The act of eating these little sweets shows that you love them and are not afraid of them.
When it comes to making them, I can’t say that they are complicated, because they certainly are not. However, it is a long and laborious process. By this I mean that we have to follow certain steps and that requires some waiting time and patience.
The step that, perhaps, may be “heavier”, is when it comes to forming them. I have tried to find an easy, simple and quick alternative. Although, of course, you can follow this same process without texturizing the outside, something that will allow you to shorten the process a little more.
They will be just as good and you will enjoy them just as much!
Recipe Saint's Bones, marzipan treat - Huesos de Santo
Ingredients for 42 pieces
- 500 g ground almonds
- 300 g powdered sugar
- one lemon zest
- 120-130 g water
- 16 g honey
YOLK PASTRY CREAM:
With this quantity you will be able to fill 42 huesos de santo
- 4 large eggs
- same weight of sugar and eggs, without shell
- 120 g water
- 20 g cornstarch
- 75 g dark chocolate 80%
- 150 g heavy cream
- 150 g powdered sugar
- 4-5 Tbsp water
MATERIAL WE WILL NEED:
- adjustable roller
- normal roller
- scraper or knife
- square cutter 6 cm on each side
- gnocchi board (optional)
- medium saucepan or pot
- digital cooking thermometer
- piping bags + smooth nozzles 1 cm in diameter
- In a bowl, add ground almonds together with powdered sugar, lemon zest, honey and 3/4 parts of water. Mix.
- Observe the marzipan and continue kneading with your hands. Add the remaining amount of water, if necessary, and continue mixing. We must obtain a manageable almond paste that does not crumble. The final amount of water will depend on the degree of drying of the almond, the older it is, the more water it will need.
- Form a cylinder, cover with cling film and let stand for 2 hours, ideally overnight in the refrigerator.
Prepare yolk pastry cream.
- In a bowl mix the sugar with the cornstarch. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, add the eggs together with the water and mix very well with a whisk.
- Pour into a medium saucepan through a strainer to remove the dense part of the eggs.
- Add the sugar and cornstarch mixture, place over medium-low heat, and cook, stirring constantly until the mixture thickens. It will take about 8-12 minutes.
- Once the mixture begins to thicken, it will do so very quickly. For your guidance, the mixture will be ready when it has a temperature between 199º-204ºF/93º-96ºC.
- Remove from the heat and pour the cream into a large bowl. The larger it is, the less time it will take to cool.
- Cover with cling film and let it cool completely at room temperature. Once cool, refrigerate until the next day.
- You can see how to prepare chocolate ganache in this post.
Shape huesos de Santo.
- Take the marzipan out of the refrigerator 2 hours before proceeding to form Saint's bones.
- Cut half of the piece and cover the other half with film to prevent it from drying out.
- Stretch with the help of an adjustable rolling pin to a thickness of 6 mm.
- With the help of a square cutter of 6 cm, cut squares.
- Sprinkle well with powdered sugar on both sides and place on the gnocchi board. Pass a rolling pin over it, the thickness of the marzipan will be reduced to 3-4 mm.
- Cut again with the square cutter and remove the excess. This, we will join it to the rest of the marzipan that we have reserved.
- With the help of a wooden stick of 1 cm in diameter, or the handle of a wooden spoon, roll the marzipan. We will do it carefully and trying not to remove the textured. Pay attention to the lines, they must be horizontally placed when we roll it, not vertically.
- Once rolled, seal the joint well. We can roll, carefully, on the wooden rod itself.
- Remove and place on a rack.
- Repeat the same process with the rest of the pieces.
- Once all the pieces are formed, let them dry overnight at room temperature. In my case, I left them uncovered for 6 hours and when I went to sleep, I covered them with a little film (only on top). We can use a cotton cloth if we prefer.
Filling huesos de Santo.
- Put the fillings in piping bags with a smooth nozzle of 1 cm in diameter.
- Place Saint's bone "upright" or straight, rest it on a plate or scraper (when we fill it, the filling will touch the work surface) and fill it with the piping bag.
- If you wish, you can smooth the filling at both ends with the help of a spatula.
- Place on a rack.
- Repeat the same process with the rest.
Prepare the sugar glaze and frost.
- In a bowl add the powdered sugar together with the water, depending on the desired density, add 4-5 tablespoons.
- Mix very well with a whisk until a homogeneous mixture is obtained.
- Place a saint's bone in the glaze, cover well on all sides. You can help yourself with 2 forks to move it and take it out.
- Drain the excess glaze very well and place on a wire rack. Keep in mind that icing will continue to drip until it dries.
- Repeat the same process with the rest of the pieces.
- Let dry at room temperature for 2-3 hours. Drying time will depend on the temperature and humidity in your home.
- Carefully remove from the rack and serve.
- To keep them, store them in an airtight container and refrigerate them.
- Marzipan can be made and used on the same day, if desired. Letting it rest helps to enhance the aromas, as well as allowing the almonds to hydrate well.
- When you stretch the marzipan and observe that cracks form, it is a sign that it needs more water. No problem, add a little more water, mix very well and stretch again. Another point that will allow us to know if our marzipan is too dry, is when rolling them. If they crack when we roll them on the wooden stick, we must hydrate the marzipan more. Be careful when integrating the water, do it little by little, kneading very well and observing how it behaves. We can always add more, but it is not easy to remove the excess. It can be done by adding more almonds and icing, but this would force us to calculate the quantities to maintain a good proportion.
- As we stretch, remove scraps, join... The marzipan will dry out. Most likely, you will need to add a little water. You can do it with your hands, a coffee spoon or a bottle.
- Originally Saint's bones are shaped with a special rolling pin. If you use to make them a lot, you may find it useful. In my case it is an elaboration that I make seasonally, so I use my gnocchi board (the stripes are closer together, but the result is nice). If you don't have this little board, you can mark the lines with the help of a wooden skewer.
- We must let the marzipan dry to be able to manipulate and fill it. In this case it is not necessary to bake it because it does not contain egg whites.
- I recommend mixing the cornstarch with the sugar before adding it to the egg mixture. This process avoids the risk of lumps forming.
- Yolk pastry cream has a very simple process of elaboration, but it requires care and patience when we are cooking it. Do not stop stirring the cream constantly to avoid lumps form or part of the cream sticks to the base and starts to burn, as this would spoil the texture and flavor of the would spoil the final texture and flavor. Maintain a medium low temperature during the whole process.
- They can be filled with whatever you like, in my case I leave you two options; yolk pastry cream and chocolate ganache. But they can be filled with candied spaghetti squash, sweet potato cream, pastry cream, pumpkin and spice pastry cream, coconut cream, any variety of ganache ....
- The outside glaze is very important, it helps to preserve the freshness of Sait's bone and helps the marzipan to remain very tender inside and crispy on the outside.
- Depending on the filling they contain, they will last longer or shorter. With yolk pastry we can keep them for 3 days in the refrigerator, with ganache, on the other hand, they can be kept for 6-7 days.
I assure you that the time and effort dedicated to these Saint's Bones, marzipan treat - Huesos de Santo is well worth it! It will be completely impossible to eat one, two or three.... It is very difficult to stop, because the result is outstanding.
For my part, I can guarantee that with the yolk filling, you won't need any more... But I leave that to your choice. With chocolate they are very good, it is true. But the yolk ones are unbeatable.
I hope to see many photos of your buñuelos de viento and huesos de santo on All Saints' Day! If you want to practice, I support you. I for one have been doing it for a few days now to make sure they look great on the day (and enjoy myself along the way!).
I wish you a fabulous weekend!
Lots of love,
Sources:El Comercio, Tribuna Burgos, Bizkarra