This is a favorite dessert from Argentina! For those of you unfamiliar with South America, there are bakeries… everywhere. And the bread is so cheap! I could get a giant bag of freshly-made bread for about 50 cents. Those were the days for sure!
But the secret the Argentine bakers never wanted you to know is that their sweets were just as delicious!
They sell these in all the bakeries, and I spent quite a few “pesos” on these! (That’s the money they use in Argentina, but it also appropriately can be used to say “weight”-gain!) They are cornstarch cookies made into a little sandwich with dulce de leche (a thick caramel) and shaved coconut. YUM!
At first, I was hesitant to try them (I’m not a huge fan of coconut in general), but these seriously blew my mind! I wanted to go back to the bakery every day, but my friend luckily reminded me to save my money and my waistline!
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Alfajores de Maicena
10 tablespoons unsalted butter
1⁄2 cup sugar
1⁄2 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 egg yolks
1 3⁄4 cups cornstarch
1⁄2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
(as needed)1⁄8 cup milk
1(8 ounce) can dulce de leche
This recipe makes about 1 dozen alfajores (2 dozen cornstarch cookies)
Soften the butter outside of fridge before combining ingredients. Gradually stir in butter until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add vanilla, egg yolks, and mix. Add the dry ingredients (cornstarch, flour, and baking powder) and beat until thoroughly combined I had to add just a little milk to get the dough to the right consistency, but don’t add more than 1/8 -1/4 cup. The dough should have a thick consistency.
Roll the dough flat to the thickness of about a ¼ inch. Using the top of a cup or circular cookie cutter*, cut circles, and place on a greased baking sheet. Leave a little room between each, as they will grow slightly. (Alfajores can be big or small, so cut according to preference. I prefer smaller so the recipe stretches!) Reroll the dough and keep cutting until all dough is used.
*While I was making these with my niece, she asked if we could use her heart-shaped cookie cutter from her kids’ cooking set! I’m a push-over, so we skipped the traditional shape, and tried out the hearts. They worked great!
Bake for about 15 minutes at 350 degrees. Cookies should be firm, but NOT browned. The cookies should still be white when fully cooked. Immediately remove from the baking sheet and place aside to cool. When cool, spread dulce de leche (recipe below) generously on one side.
Form “sandwiches” with the other cookies, allowing dulce de leche to slightly squeeze out the sides. Roll the sides of the sandwiches in shaved coconut (the finer, the better, I just couldn’t find it very fine this time).
A note on dulce de leche:
Dulce de leche is NOT caramel. It can be made at home, but homemade dulce de leche must be served immediately. It does not hold up over time or in the fridge. It also takes about three hours, so you have to plan ahead. This is a great recipe for making dulce de leche from The Pioneer Woman. It’s SO easy and SO yummy!
Buying dulce de leche online can be pretty expensive. This is my absolute favorite brand that I bought all the time in Argentina. It is so delicious, and this kind does stay really nice over time (about 2 months or so) and in the fridge. However, this kind is, like I said, very expensive. Feel free to experiment with other brands. Anything you buy in a can or jar will probably last a long time.
Your last option is to buy it locally. There are often latin-style grocery stores, or foreign food shops, that sell it. I prefer Mexican stores since they are the most common here in America. I can often find my favorite brands of dulce de leche there.
I hope you love these as much as I do! You can also try these delicious Argentine Empanadas to go with your dessert.
Check out our compilation of favorite dessert recipes or read more about Makayla’s LDS Mission in Argentina!