An Introduction to Argentine Sweets
Argentina is famous for its meat and wine, but its sweets are equally deserving of attention. From decadent dulce de leche to delicate alfajores, Argentine sweets are a must-try for anyone with a sweet tooth. Argentine sweets draw on a variety of influences, including Spanish, Italian, and indigenous cultures. Each region of Argentina has its own unique sweet specialties, but there are some treats that are enjoyed throughout the country.
The History and Culture of Argentine Sweets
Argentina has a rich history of sweets dating back to the colonial period. The Spanish brought with them the tradition of convents and monasteries making sweets with local ingredients. These sweets, known as conventual sweets, were often sold to support the religious orders. As immigration from Italy and other countries increased in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, new sweets were introduced to Argentina. Argentine sweets are an important part of the country’s culinary culture, with many traditional sweets being enjoyed during holidays and special occasions.
Ingredients and Techniques Used in Argentine Sweets
Argentine sweets rely heavily on dairy products, including milk, cream, and cheese. A key ingredient in many Argentine sweets is dulce de leche, a caramel-like spread made from sweetened condensed milk. Argentine sweets also use a variety of fruits, nuts, and spices, such as almonds, walnuts, coconut, and cinnamon. The techniques used in Argentine sweets vary depending on the dessert, but many involve baking or frying.
Regional Varieties of Argentine Sweets
Each region of Argentina has its own unique sweet specialties. In the northern provinces of Salta and Jujuy, for example, cayote candy made from a local squash is a popular dessert. In the province of Tucumán, turrón de Tucumán, a nougat-like candy made from honey and almonds, is a traditional treat. In the southern province of Patagonia, chocolates and other sweets made with local berries are enjoyed.
Alfajores: The Iconic Argentine Sweet
Alfajores are perhaps the most iconic Argentine sweet. These sandwich cookies are filled with dulce de leche and often coated in chocolate or powdered sugar. Alfajores can be found throughout Argentina and are a popular souvenir for tourists to bring back home.
Dulce de Leche: The Sweet Heart of Argentine Cuisine
Dulce de leche is a staple ingredient in Argentine sweets and cuisine. This caramel-like spread is made from sweetened condensed milk and is used in everything from alfajores to ice cream. It’s also commonly enjoyed spread on toast or crackers.
Facturas: The Traditional Argentine Pastry
Facturas are a type of sweet pastry enjoyed throughout Argentina. These flaky pastries come in a variety of shapes and sizes and are often filled with dulce de leche or pastry cream. Facturas are traditionally eaten for breakfast with coffee or mate.
Other Popular Argentine Sweets to Try
Other popular Argentine sweets include chocotorta, a chocolate cake layered with dulce de leche and cookies; panqueques con dulce de leche, thin crepes filled with dulce de leche; and membrillo, a quince paste often served with cheese.
Pairing Argentine Sweets with Wine and Mate
Argentine sweets are often enjoyed with wine or mate, a traditional Argentine tea. Sweet wines such as Malbec or Torrontés pair well with many Argentine desserts. Mate is often enjoyed with facturas or alfajores for breakfast or as an afternoon snack.
Where to Find the Best Argentine Sweets
Argentine sweets can be found throughout the country, from bakeries and sweet shops to cafes and restaurants. Some of the best places to try Argentine sweets include Buenos Aires, the city of Rosario, and the provinces of Córdoba and Tucumán. Many sweets can also be purchased at markets and fairs throughout Argentina.