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Biscoitos de Maizena – Brazilian Cornstarch Cookies

Biscoitos de Maizena are a popular Brazilian cookie that melt in your mouth.  Unlike most cookies, these cookies use cornstarch as its primary ingredient.

Biscoitos de Maizena or cornstarch cookies on a plate

“Biscoitos de maizena” literally translates as “cornstarch cookies”.

You can make this recipe two ways, with or without coconut.  Not all recipes call for coconut, but most do and it is a very popular version.  

However, if you do not have coconut on hand, like I didn’t, don’t worry about it.  The Biscoitos de Maizena will still be delicious.

However, instead of having a coconut flavor to them, they will simply taste like a sweet cookie.

While cornstarch, otherwise known as cornflour, is the main ingredient, the recipe also calls for flour.  Flour in this case helps stabilize the cornstarch so it becomes more cookie-like.

If you want to leave it out to make it gluten free, you can, but replace it with an egg.  If you don’t, you just will be eating sweetened cornstarch, and trust me, you don’t want that texture in your mouth.

Surprisingly, most, if not all of the Brazilian recipes I read, called for margarine and not butter.  Since I avoid margarine whenever I can help it, my recipe calls for oil instead.

If you’d like to use butter, use one cup of butter instead of a three quarters cup of oil.

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20% of all profits are donated to a women’s shelter to support the fight against domestic violence.

what you need

Dry measuring cups and spoons
Liquid measuring cup
Whisk
Baking spatula
Mixing bowl
Baking paper
Cookie sheets
Fork
Cooling rack

TO CHILL OR NOT TO CHILL?

Oil cookies do not need to be chilled.  I’ve tried chilling them as well as putting them directly into the oven.  

I haven’t found that chilling made any difference whatsoever.

BAKING WITH OIL

In general, oil in baked goods makes for a superior texture than those made with butter.  

Oil cakes tend to bake up taller with a better crumb. They also stay moist and tender far longer than recipes made with butter.

Furthermore, since oil is lighter than butter, the texture of oil cakes is lighter too. Also, given that oil is 100% fat while most American butter is 15% water, it creates a more tender crumb.

This is due to the fact that the extra water strengthens the gluten, resulting in a crumb that’s more dense.

Which Type Of Oil to Use

I use neutral oils like canola oil, safflower oil, and vegetable oil.  However, it’s not unheard of for oils with stronger flavors like olive oil or coconut oil to be used.

If using olive oil, I recommend using pure olive oil for its milder flavor and higher smoking point.

Baking with Oil Conversion Chart

If you want to convert your butter recipes to oil recipes, check out my baking with oil butter to oil conversion chart.

HOW TO MEASURE FLOUR AND OTHER DRY INGREDIENTS

Using a dry measuring cup, scoop ingredients from the bag or spoon them into the cup.  Next, level off the ingredient by removing the excess with an upside-down butter knife.

The one exception to this is brown sugar.  Brown sugar should be packed down and then any excess should be scraped off as well.

DRY VS LIQUID MEASURING CUP

Ever wonder why measuring spoons often come with a set of measuring cups?  I used to.  I didn’t see why we needed a set when we could have one large measuring cup. 

After a quick search, I had my answer.  I discovered that the large measuring cup is used for liquids, whereas the set is used for dry ingredients.

As it turns out, if you try to measure dry ingredients with a liquid cup, the measurements get messed up. 

First, you pour the flour or cocoa in, next you shake it around to get it level, and then you add more. 

By shaking it, you are causing the powder to settle, and when you add more, you end up using more than called for.

WHY SIFT FLOUR and Other Powder Ingredients

There are a number of benefits to sifting flour and other ingredients like cocoa ingredients: 

It removes any unwanted debris and you can get a more accurate measurement than when packed tight in a bag. 

It also removes any lumps that can get into the batter and be hard to break up later, or be missed altogether before baking.

If you sift the powdered ingredients together, it helps combine them and mix more evenly with other dry ingredients like sugar.

Understanding Sugar

Sugar may seem very basic if you’ve baked before, but I’ve been asked about it before, so I’m explaining.

There are many different types of sugar, including white sugar, brown sugar, vanilla sugar, powdered sugar, turbinado sugar, and demerara sugar.

When a recipe – any recipe, not just mine – says “sugar” without specifying anything else, it is regular white sugar.

White Sugar

White sugar (sometimes called granulated sugar, table sugar, or white granulated sugar) is made of either beet sugar or cane sugar, which has undergone a refining process.

It is the easiest to find and most commonly used.

Brown Sugar

Brown sugar is white sugar with molasses added to it.

It is commonly used in chocolate chip cookie recipes, and it’s rare for a recipe that calls for brown sugar not to also call for white sugar as well.

When a recipe calls for “brown sugar” but doesn’t specify what type (light or dark), it is referring to light brown sugar.

In my recipes, you can use whatever type of brown sugar you have on hand whether it is dark brown sugar, light brown sugar, or demerara sugar – which is very common in Israel.

Just keep in mind that the flavor and color will be slightly different depending on what you choose to use.

Turbinado Sugar

Turbinado sugar is better known as “raw sugar”. But, despite this name, the sugar is not really “raw.”

Instead, it’s partially refined sugar that retains some of the original molasses.

The term “raw sugar” may also give off the impression that it is somehow healthier.

In reality, turbinado sugar is nutritionally similar to white sugar.

Demerara Sugar

Demerara sugar is very popular in Israel and is especially delicious in tea but is also used for baking.

Unlike white sugar, demerara sugar undergoes minimal processing and retains some vitamins and mineral.

However, it is still not much healthier than white sugar.

Vanilla Sugar

Vanilla sugar is not very common in the States. However, it is common in Israel and parts of Europe.

This is sugar that sat for an extended period of time with vanilla beans, giving it a vanilla flavor.

Caster Sugar

This type of sugar is common in the United Kingdom.

It has a finer grain than white (granulated) sugar and larger than powdered sugar.

Caster sugar is often called for in recipes for delicate baked goods like meringues, souffles, and sponge cakes.

You can use a 1:1 conversion rate between caster sugar and white (granulated) sugar.

Powdered sugar

Powdered sugar, sometimes known as confectioners’ sugar, is a sugar with a powdered texture.

This sugar is rarely, if ever, used for baking. Instead, it is used for dusting desserts and making frosting and icings.

In some countries, you can also find powdered vanilla sugar. It is made the exact same way regular vanilla sugar is made. However, the sugar used is powdered instead of granulated.

Vanilla Extract vs Vanilla sugar

In my recipes, I don’t specify what kind of vanilla to use.

The reason for this is that in the States, vanilla extract is exclusively used. Meanwhile in Israel, along with many European countries, vanilla sugar is common.

In most, if not all recipes, both vanilla extract and vanilla sugar can be used.

In recipes where vanilla sugar can be used instead of extract, you can replace them 1:1.

Types of Vanilla

Vanilla comes from a pod commonly known as a “vanilla bean”, which comes from the vanilla orchids. Vanilla pod has been used for flavoring since the Aztecs, and was introduced to Europe by a Spanish conquistador, along with cocoa.

Vanilla Extract

Vanilla extract is created by soaking vanilla beans in alcohol for some time. This is the most commonly used type of vanilla.

Vanilla Sugar

Vanilla sugar is common in Europe and some parts of the Middle East, like Israel.  It is made from vanilla beans sitting in sugar, vanilla bean powder mixed with sugar, or sugar mixed with vanilla extract.

In some countries, like Italy, you can also find vanilla powdered sugar which is used for confections.

Vanilla Paste

Vanilla paste is generally a specialty item.  It is a thick paste that contains a blend of the scraped-out vanilla pod seeds and vanilla extract.  You can use it as you do vanilla extract and it will leave flakes of vanilla bean like you see in vanilla bean ice cream.

Imitation Vanilla

Imitation Vanilla, otherwise known as artificial vanilla, is made from synthetic vanilla.  This is the compound that naturally occurs in vanilla beans and gives it its flavor.

Can I use imitation vanilla?

Many will tell you that you should use high quality vanilla, just like they say you should use the best cocoa.  However, most of us will probably not be willing to pay the hefty price that comes with exceptionally high-quality ingredients.

Overall, vanilla is very expensive, so the extract is as well.  So, if you’re not going to get regular quality vanilla extract, you might as well use imitation vanilla.

DO EGGS NEED TO BE AT ROOM TEMPERATURE?

The short answer is “no”.  While a side-by-side comparison shows that baking with eggs at room temperature makes a better crumb, it’s not otherwise noticeable.

What are Eggs used for?

Eggs do three things in most recipes: they help bind the ingredients together, act as a mild leavening agent, and they add moisture.

EGG FREE OPTION

Eggs can be substituted with 1/4 cup of unsweetened apple sauce per egg.  This means for recipes calling for 2 eggs, you’d need 1/2 cup of unsweetened apple sauce.

The reason applesauce makes a good binder is that it’s high in pectin. Pectin is a naturally occurring starch in fruits and berries that acts as a thickening agent and stabilizer in food.

This happens when combined with sugar and acid (if the fruit or berry isn’t naturally acidic).

Just keep in mind that it may change the flavor slightly.

ARE EGGS DAIRY?

No, eggs are not dairy.  Dairy is milk and any food products made from milk, including cheese, cream, butter, and yogurt. 

So, while eggs are an animal product, they are not dairy. In fact, eggs fall under the protein food group.

TROUBLESHOOTING

WHY IS IT TAKING LONGER THAN DESCRIBED TO BAKE?

Over time, the thermostat on ovens gets a little off, causing some ovens to run hot and others to run cool.  This is why recipes tend to say things like “10 to 15 minutes or until golden brown.”  So, if it takes you longer than expected, that’s fine, don’t worry about it. Just keep baking until ready.

WHY DID MY RECIPE COME OUT TOO DRY?

Just like some ovens run cool, others run hot.  If your oven runs hot, bake these at a lower temperature.  Ideally, you should get an oven thermometer to know what temperature you’re really baking at.

HOW TO STORE COOKIES

Let cookies cool completely.  Place in a resealable bag or an airtight container.  Store at room temperature for up to a week.

HOW TO FREEZE COOKIES

Let cookies cool completely.  It is best to freeze cookies on a tray so that they freeze as individuals and then move to a resealable freezer bag. 

If this is not practical for you, place cooled cookies in a resealable freezer bag and freeze that way.  

Cookies will keep for up to 3 months.  After that, the quality begins to degrade.

When thawing baked cookies, remove from bag and let sit at room temperature. 

If desired, you can gently reheat thawed cookies to mimic that fresh-baked taste and texture: place them in a 275°F or 140°C oven until soft.

SNAFU

The first time I made these, I made them only using cornstarch to try to make them gluten free. Instead of melting in my mouth, the texture was like I just took a spoonful of corn starch. Not good.

Yield: 30 cookies

Biscoitos de Maizena

Biscoitos de Maizena or cornstarch cookies on a plate

Biscoitos de Maizena are Brazilian cornstarch cookies that often feature coconut

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 7 minutes
Total Time 17 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 2/3 cups cornstarch (215 grams)
  • ⅓ cup all-purpose flour (45 grams)
  • ⅔ cup white sugar (135 grams)
  • 3 tablespoons grated coconut, optional
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup oil* (175 milliliters)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 375°F or 190°C.
  2. Whisk together cornstarch, flour, sugar, optional coconut, and salt in a mixing bowl  
  3. Add oil and vanilla. Mix to combined.
  4. Roll dough into balls and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Lightly flatten with a fork.
  5. Bake for 7 to 10 minutes or until cookies are slightly colored on the bottom and white on top.
  6. Let cool for 3 minutes before moving to a cooling rack.

Notes

*Click here to jump to notes on oil

Recommended Products

Some of the links below are affiliate links, which means that if you choose to make a purchase, I will earn a small commission. This commission comes at no additional cost to you.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

30

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 102Total Fat: 6gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 20mgCarbohydrates: 12gFiber: 0gSugar: 5gProtein: 0g

Did you make this recipe?

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Sue

Thursday 4th of July 2019

They came out wonderful! Thank you for the dairy free recipe :)

ElissaBeth

Monday 22nd of July 2019

I'm glad you liked them! My pleasure :)

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