Searching for Holy Cookies

These secret nun cookies are so protected they seem like illicit desserts!

I am a cookie connoisseur and I search out the desserts in each of my destinations (France still holds the cookie crown, by a landslide). I was super psyched when I was doing research for my friend Jen’s visit and I read about a secret cookie distribution operation at El Convento de Corpus Christi, a 17th century convent located in the heart of historic Madrid. Few websites had information about the spot, so all I knew was that nuns sold cookies there, in a back entry way.

As soon as Jen arrived I told her we needed to visit the nuns for some Holy Desserts. Luckily, she is an “up for anything” traveler and was eager to accompany me on my escapades.

We got to the convent’s square and couldn’t find any entrance that said, “cookies” and or “bakery” and there was not another soul around. I had expected a line but there were only 10 foot, wooden, monastic doors and, being the non-Catholics that we are, we were scared to ring a bell. What if the sound overpowered a church service?

The convent square has none of the markings for the bakery for which we were looking! It took quite a bit of courage to ring one of these doorbells! FYI, the correct entrance is all the way back, towards the right.

Jen looks so saintly with her bag of cookies in front of one of the unmarked doors surrounding the cookie exchange room.

Luckily a friendly neighbor sensed our hesitation and rang the doorbell for us. A nun came on the intercom and started chattering in a rush Spanish I didn’t understand a word of.   Finally she stopped.  “Vendes galletas?” I asked, quite hesitantly. The buzzer sounded and the cut little nun voice went on and on with directions.  Jen and I cautiously walked in and up the stairs. We heard the nun’s voice getting frantic through the intercom and realized we were going the wrong way. We re-routed and headed through narrow hallways to a back room with a small wooden door containing a lazy susan, so the nuns could deliver cookies without showing their face.

There was also a menu. In this convent, the Hieronimus nuns make traditional sweets such as almond biscuits, tocinillos de cielo (creamy egg yolk and sugar dessert, topped with caramel), Sherry mantecados (soft lard biscuits) or naranjines (orange sweets).


We requested the naranjines and two seconds later a bag of cookies rotated around to us. We put 6 euro (blessed desserts aren’t cheap!) in its place and the nun swung it around, said thank you and good-bye.

Removing my treats from the nun's secret cookie distribution center.

It was an impersonal exchange and I felt like I was making an illegal drug deal in a convent — I liked that. We had solved the mystery and found the nuns and their goodies! It made the cookies even sweeter.

Fyi, they sell their pastries from 09:30 to 13:00 and from 16:00 to 18:30. I recommend checking it out.

About sistersbailey

We are Perrin and Sarah Bailey, collectively known as “The Sisters Bailey”. The moniker was born out of a crazy weekend at the 2009 New Orleans Jazz Fest and it was the first time we had ever been referred to as one unit. We grew up in Alexandria, VA together and then separated for college - Perrin to The University of Pennsylvania and Sarah to Northwestern University – and somehow landed together in New York after graduation. It was in the midst of the hustle of Manhattan that we became friends for the first time in years. Somehow we landed jobs in the same industry - Sarah worked in marketing at HBO and Perrin managed creative digital promotions for her media agency’s main client, Disney - just three blocks from one another. One day we decided to leave our jobs, sell our belongings and travel abroad with a backpack and a collective savings of $10K. The stories of our continuing adventures and those of other fearless travelers are here to inspire you.
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