Maria Canales

Updated Friday, February 23, 2024-02:08

It is Monday morning and in the center of

Morata de Tajuña

you can see groups of people walking around, somewhat confused.

They ask where they can get one of the greatest treasures that this Madrid town located about 40 kilometers southeast of the capital has today: its internationally famous

chocolate palmeritas


They don't know that all the places where they can buy them today are closed for weekly rest... except one.

They then head to the Paco-Pan cafeteria-bakery that has them freshly made every day and in up to 15 different varieties that can even be tasted there.

Carmen, owner of the family business, is the one who makes them.

She sells them all, about 10 kilos a day, and on weekends, even more.

Overwhelmed like her, they are in the other six workshops in the town, the only ones that handcraft this sweet that has become the icon of Morata on a daily basis, to the point of being known as the

World Capital of Palmeritas

or The Most Popular Town. Sweet from Madrid.

Seeing long lines of people at the doors every day, especially on weekends, is a common sight in this small town of about 8,000 inhabitants.

Between the seven establishments, located a few meters from each other in the center of the town, they produce approximately

95,000 kilos of palmeritas per year

, each with its own style and with "some secret" unspeakable to the competition.

There is business (and a lot) for the seven of us, "even more than we want, but we are not complaining," says Marisa, owner of Pastelería Real.

Quite a phenomenon

Chocolate and strawberry palmettos from Panadería Encarni.

Chocolate palm trees began to be made in the town in a different way from the usual hard puff pastry between the 50s and 60s, but it was

at the beginning of 2000 when they began to have a great impact


"We realize that it is a phenomenon when people begin to order them en masse, to order them, also from other stores in Madrid and large stores. The workshops begin to go to fairs and markets, such as the Matadero one in Madrid, which which also gives them even more visibility," says Fernando Villalaín, mayor of Morata de Tajuña.

"The fact that they are something unique and made by hand only in Morata gives them exclusivity and people start coming to the town for them."

What is it about these little palm trees that attract thousands and thousands of people to the town every day who stand in long lines to buy them?

It is not a compact, dry and crunchy palm like the usual one, but soft, like a spongy bun, because it has been

soaked in syrup

during its preparation.

Another characteristic is that it has to have coverage.

The original ones are the chocolate ones and the glazed ones, but the flavors have evolved over the years and today there are already about

35 types of palmeritas with toppings

ranging from pistachio, lemon or kinder to stuffed with cheesecake, sweet milk...

Freshly baked palmetto before adding the topping.

"The same palm tree is made in a different way in each of the seven stores and they all like it. The residents of Morata know how to distinguish perfectly which workshop each palm tree comes from. You do a blind tasting for me and I will guess it for you, based on the size , because of the type of chocolate, because of the sponginess...", says the mayor.

"And they are all very good," he says.

It is not very clear who was the first to start this tradition.

The only two pastry shops in the city, La Torre and Real, are credited with

the invention


"My father was already making dry palmeritas in the 70s and it is clear that in the 80s, since they were selling few, he decided to innovate and try different things, and he came up with more moist ones, and it was successful," says Loli de La Torre, current owner of La Torre.

For her part, Marisa, from Pastelería Real, assures that it was her father, a great master in the craft, who started making them.

An employee of Pastelería Real stretching the puff pastry they make in the workshop.

Palm Fair

For six years, the palmerita de Morata has had its own fair, an event that also takes advantage of giving visibility to other artisanal products from the town.

It is mid-December and "it was born with the intention that the palmerita would become another Christmas sweet from Madrid."

The event is a showcase for the town's seven workshops, who show off their creations to the almost

20,000 people who attend

the two days it is celebrated.

In the last edition they produced 8,200 kilos, about 150,000 palmeritas, according to City Hall sources.

"It is time to present new varieties and give them to the public to try," comments the mayor.

Cheesecake palmitas from La Dulcería.

unfair competition

But if the growth of this business in recent years has been unstoppable, so has the unfair competition.

"There are many factories that sell something similar to ours under the label 'Palmeritas de Morata' and they join the bandwagon because there is nothing to stop them. And they have nothing to do with it," says Raúl López Velilla, from Panadería Conejo.

And currently,

there are no quality standards

required to certify that it is an original product from Morata de Tajuña and anyone can put the seal that they are palmeritas from the town.

"The Community of Madrid is working on a new figure, that of Asset of Gastronomic Interest, and palm trees would be in the first row to receive that quality designation. But it is a very complicated process that has to be approved by the EU," they say from Mayor's office.

What are these workshops that have made Morata famous for its palm trees?

The candy store

Constitution Avenue, 8

Mari Carmen and Violeta with one of their best sellers, the pistachio palmeritas.

It opened as a small family bakery at the end of the 70s. In 1990, sisters Mari Carmen and Violeta decided to give the business a twist and introduced their own oven and pastry products that they make on site.

Little by little, the clients were demanding palmeritas and Mari Carmen asked one of the town's bakeries if she could serve them.

"As he said no, I took a course, asked a pastry chef for advice and I started making them."

They started in 2006. They have up to

13 varieties

, including kinder, cheesecake, Lotus cookie, dulce de leche..., which they make daily in the bakery and fill the bakery's main display case with color.

La Dulcería was a pioneer in making the

pistachio palmerita

, also filled, which has become one of its best sellers, along with the fondant one.

They usually have many orders, even for weddings.

"Now it has become fashionable to give small boxes of palm trees on the links," says Mari Carmen.

The workshop reaches 10 kilos a day and they sell for

17 euros per kilo


Tower Pastry Shop

(Domingo Rodelgo, 12)

Loli de la Torre with a tray of freshly made palmeritas.

It is one of the two pastry shops in Morata.

The family business is located in an elegant store that sells other gourmet products.

Loli de la Torre is now the owner, a company that she inherited from her retired father who began making the famous palmeritas in the 80s. "He started taking them to people at work and they immediately became successful." .

According to the pastry chef, they are characterized by being very juicy, since they are wetter than normal.

They started with just the chocolate ones and then added the glazed ones and the white chocolate ones because a neighbor asked for them.

Now they have

eight varieties.

It is what is most sold in the store and from its workshop, where four people work from 5:30 am every day, trays and trays come out with about 200 palm trees each.

They are all sold out.

Among his clients in Madrid are the La Palmerita store (Abtao, 8) and

Cristina Oria

, who order several kilos a day.

They sell for

17 euros per kg



Toril Street

Carmen de Paco-Pan with some of its varieties.

In 2001, this typical village bakery became the first cafeteria in Morata, thanks to Carmen, its owner, which is now a must-see stop for cyclists traveling through the region.

"Then there were only bars where men went to drink wine, but there were no cafeterias."

They bought an oven and started making the pastries they made in the cafeteria there.

"People started asking about palmeritas for breakfast and, since we didn't have any, I ventured to make them myself. I learned by chance.

The Ferrero palm tree with golden touches by Paco-Pan.

Carmen gets up at 7 am to bake them, because she leaves the puff pastry prepared the night before.

She usually makes about 10 kilos a day, but many weekends, when there is a line to buy them, they run out at noon and she has to make more.

She makes up to 15 versions (strawberry, Ferrero, lemon, pistachio, oreo, kinder, dark chocolate, and the one that sells the most is the pistachio one. Ferrero's stands out for its chocolate coating with golden nuances, one of Carmen's specialties Getting the color is a "secret". Their palmeritas are distinguished from those of the other workshops because they are all filled. Their price is

18 euros per kilo.

Royal Pastry

Calle Real, 15

Marisa dips the palm trees in chocolate one by one in the Pastelería Real workshop

The morning is being busy in this family business founded in 1958, the first pastry shop in Morata.

They have an order for

500 kilos of chocolate palmeritas

that they have to deliver to Carrefour before noon.

In the large workshop behind the tiny store, Marisa, daughter of the founder, and up to 11 other employees work from 7 am.

While the puff pastry is being rolled out, which they make there daily, Marisa dips the already baked palm trees in 80% dark chocolate fondant one by one.

In just a few minutes she covers more than 100.

They specialize in chocolate ones, although they also make cream ones.

"The chocolate one is the one that sells the most. We make two trays of white ones and 100 of the others. On the weekends we have lines and we have to go out to say that there are no more because otherwise we would never finish. There are days when , if they run out, we start making more," says Marisa.

The spongy chocolate palm from Pastelería Real.

On a good day, like today, they sell more than 500 kilos.

The Carrefour in La Gavia and the one in Rivas place orders daily, and they do not accept more hypermarkets because they do not arrive.

Everything is sold and orders are only by phone.


16 euros per kilo.

Morateña Bakery or Encarni Bakery

Calle Real, 19

Encarni, from Enarni Bakery, with the traditional chocolate and cream palms.

Baking business of the Moral family that Encarni runs and to which they had to add the sale of palm trees due to popular demand.

They have been making about 12 kg a day there for about eight years now, of dark chocolate, milk chocolate, strawberry chocolate, white chocolate, glazed chocolate, filled with cream... The latest ones have been the Polvorón chocolates at Christmas.

The best seller is dark chocolate and the price is

17 euros per kilo.

Rabbit Bakery

Calle Real, 53

Raúl López of Panadería Conejo in his workshop.

Raúl López Velilla runs this workshop that was inaugurated in 1904 by his wife's family.

It is the oldest bakery in the city.

Like almost everyone in Morata, they have been selling palmeritas at the request of their customers since 2006. They only have the three traditional ones: dark chocolate, white and glazed.

"I have not yet started selling colored palm trees, but I will end up doing so because there is a lot of demand. Yesterday they called me from seven stores telling me that if I make them colored, they will buy from me," says Raúl.

The different flavors thing has been crazy in recent years.

According to Raúl, it has gone exorbitant;

"We are overwhelmed with work."

Their bakery is one of the businesses that sell the most.

In one corner he has 150 liters of melted chocolate waiting to cover palm trees.

Every day he usually produces about 2,500 kg of these sweets.

"I deliver to many businesses in all the towns in the region, Arganda Rivas, Perales, Aranjuez, Villarejo..."

The traditional chocolate palm tree from Panadería Conejo.

"There is no secret to this, just having done something different and artisanal that was liked and then promoted very well," he says.

But I wouldn't promote it anymore, because in the end we are very small.

Based on many hours and a lot of effort they come out, but we are not prepared for an avalanche."

Price: 18 euros/kg.

Obrador El Carmen

Plaza Mayor, 3

Merce, from Obrador El Carmen, with some of his palm trees.

It is the last workshop in Morata that has joined the sale of palm trees.

They have been in a location in the Plaza Mayor for two years.

The family business run by Jonatan Loeches was previously dedicated to serving takeout.

The demand for palmeritas led him to change his strategy and bet on them.

He took courses and taught Merce's mother how to make them and now it is the product they sell the most.

They stand out for their large number of varieties, up to 46: chocolate, glazed, white and dark chocolate, filled with red fruits, oreo, orange, lotus cookie, kinder, mint, pistachio... "Young people love to experiment with flavors and on Saturdays we make Dracula, with vanilla, strawberry and cola.

Price: 17 euros per kilo