Since the Rio Olympics are right around the corner, I’ve been trying a variety of Brazilian dessert recipes. Candies like beijinhos and brigadeiros are delicious and easy to make, but they’re not the only dessert option in Brazil. Sequilhos are an unusual type of cookie that is made primarily with cornstarch that is popular in Brazil and easy to find both in home kitchens and in bakeries.
In researching these cookies, I found a lot of slight variations on them. Some included more butter than my version, while others used sugar instead of sweetened condensed milk. The version here was one of the most interesting to me, with its unusual texture and rich, milky flavor. The cookies are very light and really do melt in your mouth. The sweetened condensed milk means that they taste a bit like ice cream. Of course, since the cookies are quite a bit drier than your average batch of ice cream, the result is somewhere between a melting moment-style cookie and astronaut ice cream. They best when paired with fruit, custard or even ice cream. If you crumble them up on top of sorbet, they end up seeming a little bit like meringue.
I don’t always weigh ingredients in my recipes, but you’ll notice that I weighed the cornstarch here. This is because cornstarch is a somewhat tricky ingredient to work with, as it is very fine and clumps easily, so it is faster to weigh it than to try to measure it out in cups. Since the cornstarch is very fine, I recommend stirring it by hand to moisten it before turning on your mixer, or you’ll end up with cornstarch dust all over your kitchen counter!
The cookies will not brown much, but you can tell that they are done because they will be firm on the outside and sent in the center. They should be cooked all the way through. I think that the cookies are the best on the day after they are made, as the flavors seem to settle a bit and the vanilla comes forward a bit more. They keep well in an airtight container, too, so they will last for several days after baking your batch.
Sequilhos (Brazilian Cornstarch Cookies)
525 grams cornstarch
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup (approx 112 grams) butter, room temperature
1 14-oz can sweetened condensed milk
2 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, stir together cornstarch, baking powder and salt.
In a large bowl, beat together butter and sweetened condensed milk until smooth, then beat in eggs and vanilla extract. Slowly stir in the cornstarch mixture by hand until it is slightly moistened, then use a mixer to incorporate all the ingredients into a stiff dough (you can cover your mixing bowl with a paper towel if you face a storm of cornstarch; mix carefully).
Shape dough into 3/4-inch balls and roll them between the palms of your hands to smooth them. Arrange them on the baking sheet, leaving about 1-inch between them. Use the tines of a form to gently press a pattern into the balls and to flatten them slightly.
Bake for 11-14 minutes, until cookies are completely set. Bottoms will be lightly browned.
Allow cookies to cool before serving. Store in an airtight container.
Makes about 5 dozen.