Maicillos – Cornstarch Cookies

“You don’t know what you got ’til it’s gone,” is not a phrase that stands true only for hot-shot guys who take their women for granted.  It’s true for many occasions.

Do you have a favorite season?  Mine used to be Spring, only because my birthday was in Spring.  But then, I went to Costa Rica during my Junior Fall Semester of college and I missed Autumn.  I was going mad, calling my parents telling them to send me really, honest-to-goodness, authentic autumn leaves.  I need to smell them and crunch them in my hands.  When I got back from C.R. and the next year came around I found that Autumn was my favorite season.

Well, now I’m in a real pickle.  My whole equilibrium is out of wack.  I’ve missed every Northern Hemisphere season.  I’m in danger of having four favorite seasons.  And right now it’s winter I’m missing.  Has it snowed yet?!  I don’t even really want to know… because I’m madly missing winter.  I had never missed a winter until these two years.  It’s been two years since I’ve walked out into the cold and felt my nose hairs instantly freeze to each other.  It’s been two years since I’ve held a snowball.  It’s been two years since I’ve heard the crunch of dry snow under my feet.  It’s been two years since I’ve fallen on ice.  It’s been two years since I’ve spent Christmas with my family.  Ohhhhhh, you never thought you’d hear me say it… but I miss everything about snow from watching it fall ever-so softly from the heavens to the adrenaline-filled drives on black ice.  Could someone send me a box of snow?

There is no snow here… even though it’s cold enough sometimes to actually have snow.  You would think being in Peru it wouldn’t be cold, but then I’d give you a swift slap to the face and remind you… I’m at 12,000 ft.  There are nice days too, though.  And on one such nice day the team went out to Sillustani.

 I’m the guy on the far right whose eyebrows unfortunately look like they were misplaced or shaven off.  I’ll tell you though, I have eyebrows.  That sun is such a prankster!  I’ll let you read about Sillustani here.

I had been asked to do a post on a typical dessert in Peru.  It’s been something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time now too, so being asked was the extra push that led me to Maicillos.

Maicillos’ name comes from maiz which means corn in Spanish.  The corn influence in this recipe is from the maizena… or cornstarch!  I’ve seen other recipes that call for cornstarch in cookies and call them melting cookies.  They really do seem to melt in your mouth.

And here’s something I’d like you to see from the culture.

Say you’re fat.  The people are going to tell you so.  Oh, they’ll say “Hey little fatty!”  And they won’t blink twice.  Say you have a mole on your forehead you’re a little self-conscience about.  Forget forgetting about it, they’ll remind you it’s there.  Say you’re white or black, they’ll say so!  Negrita is a common household product brand and it means “little black lady.”  It’s striking in the name alone, but with it’s logo it was rather offending to the us, the North Americans.

Back to cookies… These maicillos are typically made around Halloween for Todos los Santos (All-Saints Day).  But, I’m bringing them to you a little late.  Oops.  As a side-note, I believe these cookies to be best the day after!


1 1/4 cup cornstarch
1 1/4 cup flour
2/3 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp clove
6 tbsp butter or shortening
egg yolks
1 tbsp vodka
1/2 tsp vanilla

Preheat the oven to 275 degrees F.

In a bowl whisk together the dry ingredients.  Then cut in the butter/shortening until it seems even.  It’s not going to look like pie crust dough, the butter/shortening will get pretty lost in all the dry ingredients.  Make a well in the center and put in all the wet ingredients.  It will seem hard for the dough to come together.  You may have to add 2-4 tbsp of milk to get it to come together into a ball.

 Break off pieces of the dough with floured hands and roll into balls about 1 inch in diameter.  Then, smash them flat in the palm of your hands and place on a foil lined cookie sheet.  Note: you do want to smash them down pretty thin.

Then put them in the oven and let bake for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown.  Pull them out of the oven and remove carefully from the cookies sheet lest ye break them and have to eat hot cookies that burn your tongue.  I speak from experience.

Voila!  You have a Peruvian cookie.  Enjoy!


11 thoughts on “Maicillos – Cornstarch Cookies

  1. No snow yet here…and that’s fine with me!! 🙂 Have you ever added pecans to these cookies?? I’m gonna try making these with the boys…

    • Oooooooo Mandy! Pecans actually do sound good, because these kinda are like Sandies. Let me know how that goes! If it turns out good I’ll give it a try next time too! 🙂

  2. I there! I’m a Canadian living in Honduras. I know exactly what you mean regarding the seasons. I have no idea what time of the year anymore! I still can’t believe it’s December without seeing snow.
    Cookies look awesome by the way!


    • OH-MI-GOODNESS! Yes, I have totally lost track of the seasons. There are many times I have to stop and think hard about what time of the year it is. It certainly is not the same trying to celebrate Christmas when there’s no snow on the ground. What are you doing in Honduras?

      • Hi there! Yup, agree, without snow it’s not Christmas for me! I’m working in food security and nutrition for Oxfam. Really enjoying life here…even with all the challenges!

  3. Awesome! Thank you. Sounds…interesting…cornstarch huh? I saw a show recently about strange habits/addictions and one lady’s was to eat cornstarch straight from the box! And I mean LOTS of cornstarch, she would go through boxes a day. I like the thought of a cookie melting in my mouth. I’ll post and link to you when I make them. I’m in the Seattle area and no snow yet, although this morning it was 29!!! But clear… Soon…..Doesn’t it snow in the mountains in Peru? I knew that it was a high elevation and was cold but no snow? Strange that.

    • Ewwwww! Eating JUST cornstarch?! I can’t imagine that would be an amazing feeling against the teeth. Yuck. Unfortunately, it doesn’t snow here 😦 It does hail though, and it looks roughly like snow, but it’s really wet and it’s certainly not the same. When I’m traveling back and forth from Puno and Ilave I can catch a glimpse of the snow-capped mountains in Bolivia in the far distance, but that’s about as close as I get to snow. HA!

    • I personally don’t, but… you can look my up on facebook and add me and you can see my pictures I’m tagged in! 🙂 Trevor Ruhland Allen is the name-o

      I don’t actually have a camera… can you believe it!? I borrow my friends to get pictures of the food I make. So, that’s why I don’t personally have pictures.

  4. Excellent that you’re down there! Soak up as much of the culture as you can and then educate the lot of us. 🙂

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