Looking for the Best Alfajores in Queens

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Photos: Sara Markel-Gonzales

This week, to celebrate spring, I went on a search for something sweet. A cookie seemed like a good idea—and a South American cookie sounded even better. Alfajores are popular sweets in South America, particularly in Argentina, Paraguay, and Uruguay. Queens has quite a few Argentinian and South American bakeries, so I decided to track down this cookie and find the best the borough has to offer.

Alfajores are sandwich cookies, most often filled with that gooey, sweet, caramel confection made from cooked-down milk, dulce de leche, then rolled in powdered coconut. Imagine a french macaron on steroids. Most often I came across alfajores de maizena, maizena being a popular brand of cornstarch sold in Latin America. Different from a sugar cookie or shortbread, the cornstarch in the dough gives the cookie a fine crumb and powdery texture. At five different bakeries around Queens, the cookies all looked similar, and had the same ingredients, but each had its own distinct taste. From "Little Argentina" and beyond, my alfajor adventure.

Rio De La Plata Bakery

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An Argentinian bakery next to La Esquina Criolla (a meat lover's paradise) and across from El Gauchito (an Argentine butcher shop and restaurant), this is the area of Queens with the highest concentration of Argentinian stores on one block. A good place to begin. The large alfajores here cost $1.80. The dulce de leche filling was dark and rich, not too much or too little. The cookies had the crumbly texture that I was looking for, and a powdery finish.

Rio De La Plata Bakery

94-65 Corona Avenue, Elmhurst Queens (map)

Rikuritas Bakery

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A bakery on Roosevelt Avenue in Woodside that sells Uruguayan, Paraguayan, and Colombian products had the softest alfajor of the bunch, most likely because they stored them in the refrigerated bakery display case, while all of the other bakeries had theirs on the countertops. A thin layer of dulce de leche and almost too thick of a cookie, this was the least pleasant too eat. I would stick to the Colombian sweets at this bakery, which seem to be more of their specialty. Maybe that is also the reason why theirs was the most expensive, at $2.00.

Rikuritas Bakery

68-24 Roosevelt Avenue, Woodside Queens (map)

Buenos Aires Bakery

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At this cute corner bakery right off of the 7 train, the large alfajores cost $1.95. These cookies were airy, light, and crumbled instantly, had the thickest layer of delicious dulce de leche, but the least flavorful cookies.

Buenos Aires Bakery

90-09 Roosevelt Avenue, Jackson Heights Queens (map)

La Nueva Bakery

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This shop has a beautiful display case full of all sorts of cakes, pastries, and sandwiches—I wanted to linger and taste everything, but I was on a mission. Catering to the needs of the neighborhood, they sell sweets from many South American countries. They had two sizes of alfajores, medium for $1.25, and large for $1.75. These cookies were the least crumbly, but had a well-balanced ratio of filling to cookie. Fresh tasting, friendly service.

La Nueva Bakery

86-10A 37th Ave Jackson Heights, Queens (map)

Panaderia Aconcagua

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The winner! The longest walk from the subway, but a great location. (If you're looking for something less sweet, you can snack on a sandwich from Leo's Latticini or a taco from Tortilleria Nixtamal.) Why was this the best alfajor? It was yellow and crumbly, with a distinct corn taste, almost like cornbread. It had a very thin layer of dulce de leche, but because the cookie itself was sweet, it was the perfect amount. Instead of simply being a vehicle for large amounts of caramel (not that there's anything wrong with that) the cookies were flavorful and fresh tasting. And at a $1.60 for a large cookie, also the best price.

Panaderia Aconcagua

48-04 108 Street, Corona Queens (map)

There is so much more to be had at all of these bakeries—and a cookie, even one as interesting as an alfajor, is just scratching the surface of sweets. (Not to mention sandwiches de Miga, empanadas, and other delicacies.) Looks like another visit to each bakery may be necessary. Do you have any favorite South American spots?

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