Alfajores are an Argentine snack specialty, dating back to the early 19th century. They are extremely popular across the country and have grown to become a large part of the Argentine culture. For those of you who haven’t had the pleasure of trying one yet, a traditional home-made style alfajor consists of two buttery fluffy cookies with a generous layer of dulce de leche (sweet milk) in between and a touch of coco flakes all around it. These tasty treats are very easy to come across, with a variety of options being supplied at every panadería (bakery) and kiosko (kiosk/convenience store). They are considered a pastry or confection, but to the Argentines there is no such thing as a right time to eat them, whether it be breakfast, with a coffee in the afternoon, a decadent dessert or a late night snack, it is always the right time.
Many variations of ‘alfajor’ have emerged over the years. You can find them from bite-size to jumbo size, from using different style of cookies to filling them with chocolate or membrillo (quince) jam, and from dusted generously with powdered sugar to dipped in dark/milk/white chocolate. Nevertheless, the most popular kind is still without a doubt the traditional ones with dulce de leche filling. For anyone with a sweet-tooth these treats are a must-try, and for good reason – they are undoubtedly delicious.
Since there are a large variety of these decadent treats, we at Vamos Spanish got curious and wanted to carry out a survey to find out which ‘alfajor’ really took the biscuit (excuse the pun), especially from the point of view of the non-Argentines (as every Argentine has been consuming this sweet snack since childhood, their preconceptions and personal sentiments would create bias and favor one particular over another). In order to discover which tasty treat came out on top we decided that the best (and most fair) way was to conduct a blind taste test of a selection of alfajores with the help of our Vamos Spanish students. Many of the participating students had never heard of this famous treat, and if they had, they had yet to try them out, so everyone was trying them out for the very first time.
Argentine Alfajor Blind Taste Test:
The Alfajores Types:
For the test, we’ve decided to narrow down all the choices to 5 different brands of alfajores. Since they are quite sweet, we believe that everything would just end up tasted like sugar if one has more than 5 mouthful, and would affect the effectiveness of the test. When choosing which brands to use, we tried to pick a selection which not only some variations from the tradition but will also represent the more prestigious brands here in Buenos Aires, for example Havanna and Cachafaz, as well as some that are a staple at every kiosk such as Milka Mousse and Jorgito.
Here are the brief descriptions for each of the alfajores:
This is your “every people brand” for alfajor. It’s the one which almost all typical Argentines grew up with since they are the most accessible and has been around since the 60’s. We picked their classic one,“Negro”: 2 cookies with a layer of dulce de leche with a chocolate cover.
They are another brand with a long history in Argentina. They are also very well known outside of Argentina and this is the brand one would recommend to buy as a souvenir to take home. They have a full range of alfajores but we chose their classic and most popular one: Alfajor de chocolate. 2 cookies with lots of dulce de leche and covered with semi-sweet chocolate. This is also the priciest among all of the testers. Havanna is also a local coffee chain, a great place to sip café con leche accompanied with a sandwich or an alfajor of your choice.
This is considered the modern premium brand, also one of the more expensive ones. For fair comparison, we again picked the classic: 2 cookies with dulce de leche in between and the whole thing is bathed in a layer of genuino (genuine/real) chocolate (as described on the packaging).
This one is a triple ‘decker’! It’s a three crumbly cookies with 2 layers of chocolate mousse filling, and it’s covered with milk chocolate.
This is the only “white” alfajor. It has a harder, thin shell of white sugar glaze but it is soft on the inside with a dulce de leche filling between 2 cookies.
We bought several alfajores of each brand, cut them up into bite-size pieces, and presented them on 5 separate plates. The plates were labeled with their corresponding number with no wrappers in sight. Only us, the organizers knew how to identify them.
Each participant was given a predesigned survey sheet where they had to rate the different alfajores by look, texture, smell, taste, using a ranking of 1-5 (1= favourite, 5= least favourite) and to fill out a section with any specific observations or comments.
After added up all the ratings, here is the final ranking based on our students’ taste buds:
No. 1 Milka Mousse!
2. Terrabusi Glaseado
3. Havanna Clásico
4. Jorgito Negro
5. Cachafaz Clásico
It was very interesting to see that the most traditional one (Jorgito) and the premium one (Cachafaz) were given the lowest ratings. The most popular was actually the least traditional Milka Mousse. This brand is cheaper than the other ones, and can be found in pretty much every supermarket and kiosk. My personal favourite was also the Milka Mousse, which coincided with the preferred alfajor of the students. This is the only one that has a chocolate filling instead of the typical dulce de leche. I wonder if it has something to do with chocolate being the more global familiar flavor and therefore, received higher rating.
Havanna and Jorgito, which are both very symbolic representatives of this national favorite snack, were quite head to head in the results. They are both quite similar in the making with a soft texture and coated in chocolate. However, the students described Jorgito as less sweet than others, and some said it even had a slight ‘fruity’ taste.
On the whole, the students seemed to produce pretty similar results with Milka Mousse and Terrabusi being the top choices. However, I’d think the locals would have a very different opinion on this result!
Alfajores de Dulce de Leche Recipe | Sandwich Cookies Recipe:
Traditional alfajor with dulce de leche & coconut: Ingredients
Yields: 3 dozen 2 inch cookie sandwiches
- 1/2 cups (150g) regular flour
- 2 cups (250g) cornstarch
- 3 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking-soda
- 1 & 3/4 sticks (150g) butter
- 3/4 cup (200g) sugar
- 3 egg yolks
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 400g of the best dulce de leche to be used for the filling
- 1/2 cup of shredded coconut (for rolling)