Holiday Cookies from South America

Galletas de Navidad from Latin America

In many parts of the world, Christmas and New Years are traditional times for giving food to family and friends. In South America, panettone (Italian-style fruitcake) is the most popular food gift, but holiday cookies are often served at parties.

Bring something different to the holiday cookie exchange this year. Alfajores (caramel sandwich cookies) are always a hit, as are the Brazilian chocolate truffles called brigadeiros, which are easy and fun for kids to make.

  • 01 of 07
    Alfajores
    Zoryana Ivchenko / Getty Images

    The alfajor is a classic Latin American cookie made of two delicate sugar cookies with a dulce de leche filling. It's fun to decorate alfajores for Christmas with sprinkles and/or icing, or dip them in chocolate, and they keep well enough (in a tin) to be sent in the mail.

    Another variation is the Argentinian chocolate-dipped alfajor cookies from the famous Havanna store. Not on your way to Argentina? No worries, you can easily make them yourself, or make their sister cookie, the classic Havan...MOREnet.

  • 02 of 07
    Brigadeiro
    Brigadeiro. Samba Photo/Paul Fridman

    Kids will enjoy helping to make this easy recipe that combines caramel and chocolate flavors. It's traditional to serve brigadeiros in little paper cups. The name comes from Brazilian Brigadier General Eduardo Gomes, a fan of this cookie who ran for president in 1945.

  • 03 of 07
    Panettone Cake Truffles
    Tania Mattiello / Getty Images

    Panettone cake truffles are an excellent and delicious way to reinvent your excess panettone cake into pretty bite-size truffles, perfect for giving. You mix crumbled panettone with frosting and a dash of rum, rolling it into balls and then coating with chocolate or frosting. You can decorate them with sprinkles, nuts, or shredded coconut.

  • 04 of 07
    Child cutting gingerbread cookies
    Tatiana Kolesnikova / Getty Images

    Llama cookie cutters are available online, or you can trace a cardboard llama as you cut out the cookies. Use your favorite gingerbread cookie recipe or sugar cookie recipe to make the llamas. Then enjoy decorating them. Llamas are native to the Andes and have a variety of colors and color combinations, so your kids can make their favorite.

    Continue to 5 of 7 below.
  • 05 of 07
    Coconut macaroons with chocolate
    Carl Tremblay / Getty Images

    Cocadas are the South American version of a coconut macaroon. These fancy cocadas are dressed up with dark chocolate for the holidays. They have dulce de leche in the mix, giving them an extra rich butterscotch-caramel flavor. You can use sweetened or unsweetened dried coconut to make these cookies, depending on your preference.

  • 06 of 07
    Meringue Kisses
    Blossom Peaches / Getty Images

    You can simply flavor these meringue kisses with vanilla, or add a little peppermint or other flavorings, ground nuts, or mini-chips. You can also use food coloring to make them in festive colors. Another variation is to pipe two cookies, bake, then dip the flat edge in melted chocolate and marry two together.

  • 07 of 07
    By Felipe LM (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

    These mini coconut flans are very sweet, but adding a pinch of salt brings out the coconut flavor. The coconut becomes a sweet, chewy crust. Using silicone baking trays, you can make them in festive designs. The golden color looks great on a dessert tray.