Tortitas de Santa Clara: a gastronomic tradition in Puebla

The Santa Clara cookies were born in Puebla, and have been made since colonial time. Nowadays these are one of the emblematics candies bestsellers.

Esta nota tiene una versión original en español

After the Spanish arrived in Mexico many products were brought to the country like sugar cane, cattle, etc. Puebla’s traditional candies emerged after a different mixture of cultures as Arab, Spanish and Indigenous.

These cookies were created in monasteries during colonial time, first of all to say thanks to the  benefactor, and then they started to sell them.

Tortitas de Santa Clara
Photo: Pamela Camacho

In fact, during colonial times the nuns, who lived in the monasteries, created many recipes that nowadays give identity to the Puebla’s gastronomy. One of them was the Santa Clara cookies recipe.

People say that in Santa Clara’s monastery, a nun tried to create a new recipe, and after mixing many ingredients randomly obtained what we know as Santa Clara cookie: a small cookie with a sweet cover of pepita seed.

Nowadays Santa Clara cookies are best sellers of Puebla’s candies shops, it’s what assures Juan Hernandez Fuentes, owner of a traditional candy factory called Casa Don Juan, where they have elaborated these cookies four generations .

How are Santa Clara cookies made?

Santa Clara cookies are made of a cookie with a base of wheat flour, with a pepita seed’s jam on the top. Because of that it requires two different processes:

1.- Cookie

The cookie in itself is made with flour, sugar, pork fat, egg yolk, baking soda, and other ingredients to complement it.

Then they make the dough, and when it is ready you must  spread it on the table, cut it in small circles (you will decide the size), then to make it easier you need to shape it with a special cutter, and at the end it’s spread it on the baking sheet.

At the beginning, the cookies’ shapes were made by hand, pitching the edges, and the way the cookies look wasn’t too strict, according to what Juan Hernandez said.

The next step is baking for 12 to 15 minutes. When the cookies are ready, they are let to cool to spread then be with pepita jam.

Tortitas de Santa Clara
Photo: Karen Mojica

2.- Center

The jam will be set on the top of this cookie. This jam is made with pumpkin seed, sugar, milk, and other ingredients. Firstly, the pepita must be in water a whole day to take mut be soaked in water for a whole day to peel off the cover.

Secondly, we are going to wash it, grind it, and incorporate the sugar previously cooked to nougat. This mixture needs to get cool, then beaten for some minutes until it shows a pretty good texture, color, and consistency, said Juan Hernandez.

At the end of both process, the jam needs to be applied in the center-top of each cookie.

Preparación Tortitas de Santa Clara
Photo: Karen Mojica

A tradition

For the past four generations, The Juan Hernandez Fuentes’ family have produced and distributed Santa Clara cookies and different Puebla candies.

Juan Hernandez said that his grandpa  (who was baker) was sought by the nuns they were selling out.

He had a gift, one that everyone in the family had. He could smell and taste a product, and he knew exactly what the product had, including the portions of each ingredient”, assures.

With that gift, my grandpa said to the nuns that he would help to make Santa Clara cookies, but he would improve the recipe. The recipe was improved to become better than the Santa Clara nuns’ cookies, after that he started to have more buyers at the market.

Because Santa Clara cookies were not the only products that the family’s factory produced, my grandpa gave it to his oldest son, Juan (this is the reason for the candy shop name) to elaborate and distribute Santa Clara cookies, said Juan.

Now Juan Hernandez is the third generation, and his children are the fourth generation to make and distribute this, as well camotes, the polvorón with caramel nut, some dulces de leche, rosquilla glaseada with cinnamon or chocolate, as well as the mollete poblano which is considered a traditional dessert of the Chile en Nogada (one of the stars of the Puebla’s gastronomy), and the polvoron sevillano (another delicious dessert).

Casa Don Juan
Photo: Pamela Camacho


If you want to taste these traditional candies and desserts, you can contact the store in the following address:

Casa Don Juan: dulces típicos is placed in  Privada Artículo 24 #3220 Col. Alseseca, Puebla City.

Or you can call:  222 245 8237

This report was made by POBLANERIAS.COM to collaborate in the economic reactivation in different touristic- cultural places and shops that do not have access to mainstream publicity, have a specific profile to be advertised, and have been affected by the pandemic situation.
We thank the funeral agency CAMINO AL CIELO; the distributor NISSAN NAMI- ANGELÓPOLIS, SAN MANUEL Y CHOLULA, and to some donors from Puebla that have contributed to make this content possible through their sponsorship.