Serves Makes 24 pairs of cookies
Alfajores are a very popular cookie in Peru and you can bet they are on everybody’s dessert table at Christmas. They are a sandwich cookie filled with dulce de leche (caramel) filling. There are many recipes out there for alfajores. Some call for eggs, some want only egg yolks, others use only flour and still others use only cornstarch. I’ve taken what I think are the best parts of these recipes and done a test run for you, and I think what I came up with was a winner.
I used half flour and half cornstarch because using only cornstarch will definitely make a very delicate and delicious cookie, but one that is harder to work with. I want you to be successful the first time around!
You can purchase dulce de leche, but I’ve given you extremely simply instructions to make your own. Even though it takes awhile to make, you will not have to run to a specialty store to find it and you’ll save a lot of money to boot!
When baked, these cookies should be light brown on the bottom and still white on top. My first tray came out perfect, but I didn’t pay attention to my second tray and they came out brown. They were delicious nonetheless. A little crisper than what would be served in Peru, but I thought a little bit more flavorful due to the caramelization in the cookie dough. So have no fear if your cookies get a bit too brown, they will still be very good!
1 cup cornstarch
1 ¼ cups flour
¾ cup powdered sugar
½ tsp. baking powder
1/8 tsp. sea salt
2 sticks butter, cut into dice
1 13 oz. can sweetened condensed milk, or purchased dulce de leche
Directions for the dulce de leche
Remove the label from a can of sweetened condensed milk and place in a deep pot. Lay the can on its’ side and cover with water by two inches. Bring to a boil, covered, and continue to boil for two to three hours. The longer time period will give you a darker caramel. Make sure to check every now and then to see if the can is still covered with water, add more as necessary.
Remove from the pot and allow to cool. This may be made ahead of time. It will keep indefinitely in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature before using to spread between the cookies.
Directions for the cookies
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Put all the dry ingredients together in a food processor and pulse a few times to combine well. Add the cubed butter and pulse until it starts to come together in a ball. Don’t overmix – it should look shaggy – and you will press the rest of the dough together on a counter. Flatten into a disc, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes to firm up a bit.
Roll dough out about ¼” thick and cut out with a small round cookie cutter. The cutter I used was about 2” wide, but a glass works well. Place the rounds on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes, just until the bottom is lightly brown and the top is still white. Cool completely.
Assemble the cookie sandwiches by spreading 1-2 teaspoons of dulce de leche on one cookie half and top with the other.
Dust with powdered sugar and devour!
Recipe and photo credit: Linda McElroy
Notes and Instructions