Afternoon tea in Argentina can be pretty delicious. And crumbly. Specially if maicenitas are involved.
Also known as “alfajores de maicena”, this delicacy consists in two cookies united solemnly by a thick layer of dulce de leche, the local equivalent to Nutella or peanut butter.
Dulce de leche, a national treasure.
You see, dulce de leche is almost sacred here. It goes beyond tradition and taste, really. For us, dulce de leche is what home tastes like. Home, family, childhood. We all have stolen a spoonful of this as kids and then were scolded by a worried mom. Worried because I would always open the fridge barefoot.
Anyway. I decided to prepare this as the first of many local recipes that I keep close to my heart, and that I want to share with all of you. Alfajores de maicena are easy to prepare, the ingredients are easy to find, and they won’t probably last long in your table. Want to give it a try?
Softened butter, 1 cup
Confectioner’s sugar, 1 cup
Vainilla extract, 1 tablespoon
Lemon zest, 1 tablespoon
All-purpose flour, 1 cup
Cornstarch, 2 cups
Baking powder, 1 teaspoon
Salt, 1/2 teaspoon
Dulce de leche (or caramel), 2 cups
Shredded coconut, 1 cup
We’re going to start by mixing the softened butter and the powdered sugar. This works a hundred times better if you kept the butter out of the fridge overnight, so plan ahead!
Then, mix in the eggs and yolks, whisking all the time. Add the vainilla extract and the lemon zest. Combine all ingredients until the mix is homogeneous.
My designer (Maxi) deleted my hand and now it looks like it’s raining lemon zest.
Now, we mix the dry ingredients: baking powder, flour, salt and the star of the day: the cornstarch.
We’ll proceed by mixing both dry and wet ingredients, combining them thoroughly until we have a homogenous dough. Then, we’ll wrap it in foil paper and take it to the fridge for about half an hour. We’ll use that time to turn on the oven and set it to a medium temperature.
Once the preparation is cold, divide it forming 4 balls. Then, we’ll pour some flour on a counter and stretch the dough until it’s about an inch tall. With a cutter (or a glass, in my case) we’ll crop small circles, that we’ll then set on a greased and floured baking tray.
Not too small, not too big. You choose, though.
They can be taller, if preferred. You can decide that when stretching the dough.
Once they’re ready, we’ll put the tray in the oven for about 15 minutes. We’ll want a gold base but not too brown. We won’t flip them: they’ll be baked on one side only.
Now, this is the magic part. This is when the cocoon brakes and a butterfly emerges.
Ok, I might be exaggerating.
It’s ALFAJORES time! Dulce de leche in hand, we’ll put a good amount between two cookies to combine them into one tasty unity of sabor.
Last step: spread some dulce de leche on the sides, and then roll the alfajor on shredded coconut. If you don’t like it, you can use colored sprinkles or crumbled peanuts/almonds. Put the alfajor in a fridge for a few more minutes and they’re ready to serve.
Et voilà! a heavenly companion to your afternoon tea, a morning snack, or a tasty dessert that will make your heart feel as warm as an Argentine hug.
S/O to my awesome brother Ale, who always keeps me company with great improv songs, and my lovely sister Georgi for the photos!
Are you ready to prepare these at home? C’mon! They’re crumbly and so, so good! You won’t regret it. How about you share some tips with us? Have you ever had alfajores before?
Stay tuned to Kilo India Delta for more local and foreign recipes, as I discover the blogger 10s. (The pounds you gain in the sake of cooking for the Internet, that is.)