With a special dessert or sweet for nearly every season and occasion in Barcelona, it can be hard to narrow down your search when the time comes to treat yourself. In autumn, and especially for All Saints' Day and Castanyada celebrations, the 'panellet' rules. The most traditional is a simple little ball of marzipan and pine nuts, but you'll also find them in an array of colours, shapes and flavours, from coconut and chocolate, to pumpkin shapes for Halloween, and a rainbow of fruity varieties. Every place makes them a bit differently too, so we took on the task of finding some of the best spots in town to sample panellets, traditional or experimental. These six bakeries and sweet shops will tempt you in and leave you with no regrets.
Since 1929 this bakery has been supplying sweets to the poshest part of Rambla Catalunya. Their panellets are a delicacy, but if you want to drop to your knees in delight, try their other marzipan goodies, 'ossos de sant' (literally 'holy bones') – we prefer their stronger flavours of sugar and egg. Plus it's more fun to eat something with such an ecclesiastical eschatological name.
Their panellets are a model of perfection, with perfectly made marzipan and a generous amount of pine nuts on the traditional variety. The butter croissants here are also one of their star products, of which they sold 50,000 in one year from just two stores. They have another shop at La Rambla, 83.
This fantastic signature pastry shop is where Albert Badia sets his creativity free. If you want to be surprised, head on in and you're sure to find some sort of amazing variety of panellet. Outside the sign reads 'Winner of the best butter croissant in Spain', but they also stray a bit from tradition in order to offer a type of haute dessert, if you will.
Four generations of bakers have kept this Barcelona patisserie at the forefront of cake-making and baking in the city. This century-old house has a wide variety of panellets, including the incredible fig ones. The best thing to do is grab an assortment of coconut, lemon, pine nut, chocolate, orange, coffee and almond flavours to have a bit of everything. Oh, and their assortment of chocolate cakes is out of this world, too, if that's what you're in the mood for.
Pastisseria Canal (with locations at Calvet, 15 and Muntaner, 566) champions innovation in the world of patisserie without losing track of tradition. So you'll find 15 varieties of classic panellets – the pine nut ones of course, but also coconut and others that have been around forever – but also other bold creations each year. For the 2017 season, for example, they came up with a delicate morsel of roasted pralines with the classic base of raw almond and sugar, adding to other newer combinations, such as muscatel and raisins.
Where traditional and holiday sweets never never let you down is at Forn Baltà in the Sants neighbourhood. Around All Saints' Day when it's panellet season – and theirs are exquisite – they also sell a kit so you can make your own. The kit includes all ingredients you'll need and the recipe (though it doesn't include a translation service). Definitely something you'll want to keep among your most essential survival gear.