This year I have decided to tackle my Latina culinary roots. My mom is Peruvian and as a child I lived with my tio Jorge in Lima and even attended school there for a year. My fondest earliest food memories are of enjoying the many signature dishes Peru is known for around the world.
With La Panamericana, I want to explore not only my favorite Peruvian dishes but neighbouring latin dishes as well. I named this new blogging venture after la carretera Panamericana, the highway that connects Central and South America and runs along the Pacific coast cutting through rainforest and dessert from Mexico to Chile.
People often assume that I cook Peruvian food on a regular basis; I don't. My mother never really made us any traditional Peruvian dishes growing up and outside of Peru or a Peruvian restaurant, we never enjoyed all that Peruvian cuisine has to offer. Aside from the awesome flan that my mother thought me, I occasionally make papa a la huancaina and I've made tallarines verdes (Peruvian spaghetti and pesto).
For my first latin post, I decided to make alfajores. These cookies are my all-time faves! They are truly a Peruvian delicacy and yet they are also popular in neighbouring countries most prominently in Argentina and Chile. Unlike in Argentina and Chile, where you can find alfajores mass produced and sold packaged on supermarket shelves, Peruvian alfajores are more of an artisanal affair. The recipe varies from one region to another but the most popular is the alfajor de maicena or cornstarch alfajor. An alfajor is essentially a cookie sandwich using manjar blanco, better known as dulce de leche, as the glue between two very delicate, very crumbly, very delicious cookies. Some alfajores have a thin layer of dulce de leche in the middle and the cookies are thinner. Some have a week's worth of dulce de leche in the middle and thick pillowy cookies; essentially a sweet tooth's dream come true. I like mine in between...not too much cookie and not to much manjar....just right.
I searched and I searched to find THE perfect recipe and I found it! I followed Antonella's recipe precisely as she spelled it out and the alfajores were EXACTLY as I remember them. The dough was a little tricky to get used to when you're used to making dough with flour as opposed to cornstarch but I managed. I did add a tsp of vanilla to the dough mixture only because I like to add vanilla to nearly everything. As for the manjar blanco aka dulce de leche, I bought a bag of Gloria Bonlé manjar blanco from a latin store; Peruvian manjar for Peruvian alfajores. They were PERFECT! I will definitely be making these again.
Now for my next adventure...lucuma ice cream...
SOURCE: Peruvian delights