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South American Bite-Size Desserts

Make a Tray of Miniature Treats


In the United States, we're used to big cookies, giant brownies, and generous slices of pie. But when desserts are in smaller portions, you can sample many different ones without overindulging. A tray of dessert petit fours is a common sight at South American parties, probably a carryover from the tapas served in Spain. These mini desserts can be elaborate and labor-intensive, or as simple as cutting brownies into little squares and dusting them with powdered sugar.

Dessert tapas are especially perfect for holiday parties - serve them in colored paper cups, add festive decorations - the possibilities are endless.

1. Traditional Alfajores

Marian Blazes
Alfajores can be made any size. I've even seen a giant one served as a birthday cake. You can be creative with the filling as well. Add a layer of pineapple jam, or even peanut butter.

2. Candied Marzipan Pecans

Marian Blazes
These candied marzipan pecans are absolutely beautiful and never fail to impress. They are delicious too, and relatively easy to make, since you can start with store-bought marzipan.

3. Maná Fruits

Marian Blazes
You can be traditional and make these out of the Peruvian candy maná, or you can model these fruits from the marzipan you bought to make the candied marzipan pecans. Kids will enjoy this project, and the fruits make great gifts, as well as beautiful cake decorations.

4. Brazilian Brigadeiros

Marian Blazes
I call these "budget truffles" because they look like expensive dark chocolate truffles, but they are made with cocoa powder and condensed milk. They are slightly chewy with a chocolate butter toffee flavor. My children adore them, and they're often served at children's birthday parties in Brazil.

5. Dulce de Leche Cake Truffles

Marian Blazes
Cake truffles are delicious bite-size treats made by mixing crumbled cake with frosting (or in this case, dulce de leche), and then coating balls of the mixture with melted chocolate or more frosting. They make elegant little desserts served in paper cups, or stacked high on a pretty plate.

6. Quindin - Brazilian Cococut Custard Cookies

Marian Blazes
These are like little mini coconut flans. They are very sweet, but I always add a pinch of salt (not a traditional ingredient) which brings out the coconut flavor. They have a beautiful golden color, and look great on a dessert tray.

7. Lemon Lime Alfajores

Marian Blazes
A variation on the traditional alfajor - for those who are not fans of dulce de leche. Tart, refreshing lime curd is sandwiched between lemon shortbread cookies. These are better the second day, when the cookies soften and the flavors meld.

8. Praline Alfajores

Marian Blazes
Alfajores go nuts! Pecans are a natural match for the caramel flavor of dulce de leche. These cookies have a butterscotch taste that goes really well with the filling.
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