Upon my last little visit to my beloved Argentina I found myself in an interesting position. It was the first time I’ve really been there and was extra conscious about what I ate. I never really ate much meat there, but I did really enjoy the Argentine Dulce de Leche. When in Argentina (or anywhere really) I like to embrace the local culture. Mind you, I wasn’t a fitness model, I wasn’t as healthy and I did have a tiny tiny little bit of a belly. I also was still very active and I ate other stuff but now that I’m trying to maintain an optimal level of health I’m just a little extra careful.
Dulce de Leche is typically made by simmering sugar and milk (stirring it constantly) until it becomes supersaturated and thick as it transforms causing a browning reaction that gives it a beautiful caramel colour. Sometimes vanilla or even chocolate is added for additional flavour and it is bought quite cheaply and varies in texture and flavour. Dulce de leche can also be made at home by boiling sweetened condensed milk for about 30-45 min (in a pressure cooker) and this actually results in a much sweeter taste. It’s actually quite dangerous to do on the stove-top because if the dulce de leche evaporates completely the pot will get too hot and can explode. It’s typically used as a spread, a topping, a sauce or a filling and isn’t inclusive simply to Argentina (although they are quite patriotic about it.
Alfajores are EVERYWHERE in Argentina and they are quite cheap. In fact, on my one adventure traveling by bus from Buenos Aires to Peru to go visit Matchu Pitchu I thought I was going to die because all they served us was sandwich de miga (multi-layered white bread sandwiches) alfajores and coffee with sugar for 3 days straight. It’s not nutritionally beneficial by any means. They are typically two cookies stuffed with a thick layer of dulce de leche and then dipped in a chocolate coating. Here is an example of what they look like, oh and these ones are still vegan.
This last visit to Argentina I noticed that they were offering a new (healthier) variety of Alfajores made with puffed rice.wever they stressed the low cal but enough, but in one of my recent posts called The Skinny on Nutrition I point that it’s not necessarily the calories you need to count. It’s the quality and the quantity and the energetic value of what you consume. So regardless of whether something is only 90 calories, if it’s all sugar and carbs, it’s still not good for you. Now one or two won’t hurt you, but eating 5 or 6 isn’t going to do any weight management solutions for you. It will however, spike your blood sugar levels etc… so why not make an alfajor that’s low cal and with added health benefits. As a vegan and fintess fanatic, I like to add extra superfood or protein into whatever I can, so that’s I what I did. I used my delicious vegan PB2 peanut butter chocolate flavoured protein powder (which has 85% of the fat removed) and I love peanut butter so it goes down nice and smooth. Or as they say en Spanish, es rico suave (smooth & delicious).
As you can see, the PB2 mixture I make to my own desired texture and consistency. To me it looks a lot like dulce de leche but tastes more chocolatey and nutty. Now, the protein powder has a little bit of a sugar and sodium in it but nothing compared to the dulce de leche. In the future I may try making a different filling but while traveling you sometimes have to make due with what you can when you are trying to be healthy on the go. I bought the rice cakes, found a sugar-free chocolate and some soy milk in just one store (I looked around).
- Rice cakes (unsalted, these ones had extra sesame seeds in them, just use them until you run out of filling/chocolate. Rice cakes vary in size and shape)
- Unsweetened Chocolate bar
- 5 drops Vanilla Essential Oil (you can use extract too but I prefer to use natural and/or organic ingredients)
- Almond or Soy Milk (I use unsweetened and add my own stevia)
- Stevia to desired sweetness (I used two packets)
- PB2 Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein (I used about 1 cup but it really depends on how many you want to make)
- Shaved Coconut this is also optional but I think makes it easier to make once dealing with the melted chocolate
- Optional for additional filling: Strawberries sliced or minced nuts or seeds such as chia
- Mix PB2 Protein powder with soy or almond milk. Mix milk in gradually, stirring constantly until you get a desired consistency and texture. Set aside.
- Break off squares from unsweetened chocolate bar. I used 5 for my one cup of filling… use to your own discretion. Add into a sauce pan with a small layer of soy/almond milk heated on level 3 or med low heat. Add 1-2 packs of stevia, vanilla drops and stir constantly until thoroughly melted. Remove from heat and let cool a little before using to dip the rice cakes.
- On a clean plate, pour coconut shavings in an even layer.
- Take a rice cake and evenly spread chocolate peanut butter protein layer and extra seeds or strawberries if you so desire.
- Lay the rice cakes into the chocolate until one side is fully coated. You may want to use a knife to spread evenly on the rice cakes and spread the chocolate on to the sides evenly as well.
- Stack the two rice cakes together (one with the stuffing; the other without or you could do both sides and put strawberries, nuts, seeds or even jam in the middle to create more layers — totally up to you!)
- Try to seal the sides with chocolate using the knife and then dip in the coconut and set on a dry plate and possibly in the fridge to help the chocolate set.
I also made an open-face version of this healthy alfajor and will be posting the recipe soon. Once it’s up you can access it by clicking here.