When I set out to tackle Brazil, I came across many recipes for Brazilian cornstarch cookies. These ubiquitous treats are named after a brand of cornstarch (Maizena) found in Latin America. I became intrigued by a recipe that combined guava paste with the corn starch base.
I had never, until now, had the opportunity to try Brazilian cookies and I’m so glad I did! And what’s equally exciting is that I found both Maizena corn starch and guava paste at my local grocery store in Astoria, Queens. The texture of the corn starch cookie is light and crumbly and a distinctly different experience than flour on its own. I have to admit that it is a bit dry so when making these cookies, its important to make sure that the corn starch cookie is not too big; you want each bite to have some guava paste and some cookie (see photo below). I made them twice to get the ratio right and they were perfect! Guava paste is a common ingredient in South America. If you’ve never tasted it, it will remind you of an elevated version of the classic American junk food candy: the Fruit Roll Up.
These cookies are good for a summer, beach time snack.
17 ounces cornstarch (such as Maizena or Argo)
9 ounces granulated sugar
3.5 ounces AP flour
12 T unsalted butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla extract
Guava paste (look for a shallow can about the size of a CD sold by Goya)
For the cookies…
1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
2) Sift flour and corn starch in a bowl. Set aside.
3) With an electric mixer, cream butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Add vanilla. Add eggs, one a time, mixing after each egg.
4) Slowly add cornstarch mixture and mix until combined. The dough will be crumbly so you will need to dump it out of the bowl and work with it with your hands so it comes together. Make two or three balls of dough and let sit on the counter for 10-15 minutes. This helps the dough come together.
5) Open the guava paste. Its coarsely gelatinous so don’t worry about mixing it because it’s not worth the effort. Roll the dough into balls no bigger than 1 inch in diameter. Place them one inch apart on the cookie sheet and push them down into discs with your palm. Using a half teaspoon measuring spoon, make a dent in the cookie to place the guava paste.
6) Working with the guava paste using a spoon or your hands, pull off pieces that look to be around 1/2-3/4 teaspoon worth. The paste will hardly spread when heated, so press it down a bit if you can. Sprinkle the cookies with granulated sugar.
7) Bake 10-15 minutes, or until tops of cookies are set and the guava paste has slightly lightened. Now, if you want to push the guava paste down a little bit–wait one minute or until still hot but not so hot that you will burn your finger–and press the dollop down a bit. Transfer to a cooling rack.
Makes 5-6 dozen cookies.