What Are Maria Cookies and How Are They Used?

Buying, Cooking, and Recipes

Galletas Maria

Nacho on Flickr, cc by 2.0

Marie biscuits are thin, dry, round, slightly-sweet cookies. Also called Maria cookies, or galletas María in Spanish, they are well-known in many parts of the world. Ubiquitous in Latin America, they're a favorite packaged food found in virtually all Mexican households. Similar to how graham crackers are used in the United States, Marie cookies may be eaten as breakfast or a snack, used in countless dessert recipes, or given to babies to munch on. While you can make them from scratch, Marie cookies are inexpensive and readily available at grocery stores.

Fast Facts

Place of Origin: London, England

Alternative Names: Maria cookies, Marie biscuits, galletas Maria

Substitutes: other hard biscuits or cookies, graham crackers

What Are Marie Cookies?

Marie cookies are simple wheat flour biscuits made with sugar, though they're not overwhelmingly sweet. The crispy round wafers have small holes and are pressed with decorative edging, often with Maria or Marie and the brand. They can be eaten as is or used whole, crumbled, or crushed in recipes.

Despite their enormous popularity in Spanish-speaking countries, Maria cookies were invented in England. Credit goes to the London bakery Peek Freans who created the biscuits for the marriage of the Russian Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna to Britain's Prince Alfred in 1874. As an inexpensive, versatile, and easy-to-store biscuit, they traveled worldwide and became a beloved staple in places such as New Delhi, Cape Town, Brisbane, and Guadalajara.

Marie Cookie Uses

Marie cookies are crumbled or crushed for recipes nearly as often as they are enjoyed whole as cookies. Maria biscuits are smashed for milkshakes or atole, layered in no-bake desserts, and pulverized into “flour” for cakes and other cookies. Among other things, Marie cookies appear in flans, bonbons, and layered cakes, and they make a nice garnish for a dish of ice cream, pudding, or similar desserts.

They're also popularly spread with a jam, marmalade, hazelnut spread, or peanut butter as a snack or dessert, and are delicious when dipped in melted chocolate. A topping of cream cheese and a slice of ate (a thick quince paste with guava, figs, or other fruit) is a favorite snack as well. The low moisture content ensures they won't easily fall apart when used as a dunking cookie for your morning coffee, afternoon tea, hot cocoa, or any other hot or cold beverage.

What Does It Taste Like?

While they can be found with chocolate and other flavors, standard Marie cookies are flavored with vanilla. The wafers are typically pretty mild-tasting—even bland—and lightly sweet, so they're acceptable to most any palate.

Marie Cookies Recipes

Some recipes specifically call for Marie cookies, though they're a good substitute for other wafer cookies, crackers, and graham crackers.

Where to Buy Marie Cookies

Several well-known brands produce Marie cookies; the selection varies throughout the world. In the U.S., they're easy to find at international food markets, as well as many supermarkets and grocery stores. Generally inexpensive, you'll find single-serve packs of four to six cookies, rolls of about 30 cookies, and large boxes.

Storage

Since they are quite dry and hard, Marie cookies have a relatively long shelf life. Unopened packages will typically last three months beyond the best-by date on the package. Once open, store Marie cookies in an airtight container for two to three weeks. They can also be frozen in freezer-safe packaging for four or five months.