I’m gonna level with you guys. There aren’t many sweet treats I don’t like. Ice cream? I’ll take two scoops. Pastries? Si vous plait. Cupcakes, pies, and tarts? Yes, please. Cookies? My ultimate favorite; keep ’em coming. It should come as no surprise, then, that I fell in love with dulce de leche while visiting Buenos Aires, Argentina.
What is dulce de leche?
This tasty confection is made from slowly heating sweetened milk. The color, flavor, and texture are similar to caramel, but it tastes lighter and smoother and it’s not as runny. Riki thinks it tastes like a mix of caramel and milk chocolate. Either way, from the first bite, we were hooked. Knowing our time in Argentina was limited, we put a lot of effort into trying every variety of the treat we could get our hands on in three weeks. Our biggest tip for visiting Argentina: don’t let a day go by without having a little dulce de leche. Here are the best treats to try, in order of deliciousness.
Rogel is a cake made of several layers of thin pastry and dulce de leche, topped with meringue. To be fair, I didn’t actually have Rogel in Buenos Aires (but you can definitely find it there!). I had it during a day trip to Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay, and I think the piece I got had been sitting in the case for too long. It was too hard, which is the opposite of what you want in this kind of dessert; I didn’t finish it. Look for a fresh slice for better results.
8. Pre-Packaged Alfajores
Alfajores consist of a filling (dulce de leche, in many cases) sandwiched between two cookies. They are said to be the most common snack in Argentina and you can find several pre-packaged varieties in any grocery store or kiosk (convenience store) in Buenos Aires. We tried chocolate-covered alfajores and were not overly impressed. Our biggest complaint was that the chocolate overpowered the dulce de leche too much. Later, when I tried fresh/homemade alfajores (see #4), the pre-packaged variety fell even further down the list. Moral of the story: resist the temptation to buy these popular cookies until you find the good stuff.
7. Chocolate Bar
Like pre-packaged alfajores, chocolate bars filled with dulce de leche are everywhere (Milka is a popular brand). Another similarity: all I could taste was chocolate. But, at the end of the day, it was still chocolate so I wasn’t that mad about it.
In writing this post, I went looking for the name of a pastry I had and discovered Facturas. The concept is a little hazy, but basically Factura is the generic name for pastries made with sweet and fluffy dough. They come in different shapes and sizes and some are filled or covered with sugar. It’s recommended that you try a variety, which would have been helpful information when we first encountered them in a bakery. Faced with a wall of pastries, we cluelessly stood around not knowing what to do. Eventually, we were handed a tray and we went to town making our selections, including one filled with our new favorite and vanilla custard. Try a bunch and see what you like!
5. Dulce De Leche Crepe
I mean, crepes are always a good idea. Fill ’em with warm, gooey dulce de leche and you’re golden. They might even be better than crepes filled with Nutella. Yep. I said it.
4. Fresh/Homemade Alfajores
As I mentioned, we weren’t crazy about the alfajores we got from the grocery store. My opinion changed, however, when we had fresh alfajores. At Feria de Mataderos, a Sunday market on the edge of the city, we got one from a street vendor that was crumbly and bursting with caramelly goodness. It was messy and delicious. At The Argentine Experience, we were given cookies, a jar of dulce de leche, coconut flakes (which are commonly put around the outside), and melted chocolate to make our own. And let me tell ya, I make a tasty alfajor! Lesson learned: fresh/homemade alfajores are a must when visiting Argentina.
3. Ice Cream
We ate a lot of ice cream in Buenos Aires. And it was good. Freddo was our main ice cream supplier, but we also indulged in store-bought pints and Rapanui near the San Martin Subte (subway) station. Riki was a purist and preferred straight dulce de leche, specifically from Freddo. (He’d like me to mention that he would make this #1 if he were writing this list.) I dabbled in other flavors, such as Tramontana, which was a vanilla ice cream with ribbons of dulce de leche and chocolate candies that tasted like Whoppers, and dulce de leche with Oreos. My favorite, however, was Triple Tentación (translation: triple temptation) from Rapanui, which included dulce de leche, chocolate mousse, and Italian meringue. It was amazing.
2. Sacramento con Dulce De Leche
My memory of this treat may be a little inflated because it was the first taste we got of this sweet. Is it dramatic to call a dessert life altering? Perhaps. But that first bite sparked us to try all the other goodies on this list, so it was kind of a big deal. This pastry is a small croissant stuffed with a generous helping of dulce de leche and sprinkled with powdered sugar. We tried it at a cute little bakery called Boulan in Palermo.
1. Straight Outta the Jar
When only the pure taste of dulce de leche will satisfy your craving, go for the big leagues: a whole jar of the sweet stuff. We found 14 oz. containers at the grocery store for about $1 USD. Riki preferred to spread his on airy sugar cookie sticks called Vainillas; I liked to spread it on little pieces of toast that reminded me of plain bagel chips. Once I tried it with potato chips. And ya know what? It was a delicious combination of salty and sweet! Thus, it’s been proven: you can’t go wrong with dulce de leche. So grab a jar and spread it on anything and everything. You won’t regret it.