Alfajores – South American Sandwich Cookies

Oh yeah, they’re as exotic as they sound. My sister sent me this recipe from Recipe Girl. She (my sis) is in Paraguay at the moment, you can read about her travels at Anywhere Home, and these are pretty common cookies down there from what I gather. Maybe similar to chocolate chip up here in terms of popularity. I could also just totally be making that up, but when I offered to make her some upon her return to the states I got a polite, but swift, decline. I guess she’s Alfajores’ed out.

Well I’m glad I got to spread some of that South American sweetness around these parts. I made these for a friend for her birthday. “Sugar?” she asked. “Why yes, thank you.”

The cookie is similar to a shortbread, very crumbly, and the filling was homemade dulce de leche. You guys might remember the last time I made the dulce, more like caramel really, for my Piece of Work Pie, but this time I did it the old fashioned way – by boiling a can of sweetened condensed milk and praying it didn’t explode.  You can see step by step pictures of that nerve-wracking process in this post. (I split them up so there’s not so much information in one long post.)

The recipe is super easy and straightforward. I’ll be honest, my dough was really crumbly and made for a difficult rolling out process. Recipe Girl suggested adding a little milk if you need help to bind the dough, so keep that in mind.

ALFAJORES

  • 1/2 cup butter (one stick)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 4 egg yolks, lightly beaten
  • 2Tbsp brandy or cognac (didn’t have any, this probably accounts for the lack of moisture in the dough)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 2 cups AP flour
  • 1 cup corn starch
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp powder
  • 1/2 cup grated coconut
  • dulce de leche

Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Then add egg yolks and mix. Add in the vanilla, brandy/cognac (milk), and lemon zest and mix some more.

In a separate bowl, mix together your corn starch, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Then add in the butter. She says use your hands to combine everything and work it until the dough is soft, but I already had everything in the mixer so…

Cover and chill the dough for 2 hours. When it’s ready, preheat the oven to 325ºF.

My dough was extremely crumbly, and I think it’s because I didn’t use the brandy. If you don’t have any, or just don’t want to use any, add some milk to these instead next time. I wouldn’t wish the aggravation of trying to roll and cut out shapes from sand on anyone. It was kind of like shortbread, but even more crumbly.

Once the dough is ready, roll it out about 1/4″ thick, and use a 2″ round cutter to make the cookies. I made mine slightly smaller, which were slightly easier to pick up without crumbling. I think I got 50 cookies (to make 25 sandwiches). It was a nightmare – look at the pic below. Make sure to add some liquid (milk) if your dough looks like sand!

Bake at 325ºF for 12-15 minutes on parchment lined cookie sheets. The original recipe says cookies should be dry but not brown. Mine were ever-so-slightly golden around the edges, but my sister (the resident expert) said these aren’t meant to be a hard cookie, so pull them sooner rather than later.

Leave them to cool on the sheet for a bit, then transfer them to a wire rack to let them finish.

I’d already made my dulce de leche, and it had finished cooling, so I cracked open the can and put a dollop of about 1/2 Tbsp onto a cookie half. Smushing it closed with another cookie, the dulce should squeeze out the edges. “Oh no!” you’re thinking. “It’s so sticky! I’d lick the edges to get all the extra dulce off, but that might be frowned upon by anyone else who wanted to eat these! What do I do?”

The answer, my friends, is simple. Break out the coconut. Roll your cookies sideways (ie around the dulce de leche edge) in the coconut. This not only looks pretty, and tastes fabulous, but it’s functional! No more sticky mess!

My sister also gave me another idea, and had I not been pressed for time I would have definitely done this. You can coat the cookies in chocolate, Mallomars style. Can you imagine? A chocolate covered cookie sandwich, filled with dulce de leche? I barely made it through the word chocolate, even as I was just typing that, before I started drooling. It’s not fair though, I knew what was coming next.

You can probably also fill these with anything you want. As per usual, Nutella always comes to mind. Mmm, maybe some lime curd with the coconut on the side… I could get carried away, but I won’t. Instead I’ll implore you to use your imagination and let me know what you come up with.

These were described as “heavenly” and “sooo goooood,” and my buddy Will told me once again I haven’t let him down. Thank you, Will and Andrea! (Below is a picture of Andrea having her cookie at midnight on her birthday. To repay her for posting a blurry picture she will ultimately hate, I request [read: demand] you all check out her music. She is an amazing singer/songwriter!)

Please enjoy these responsibly.

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One comment

  1. wow these look good! So unique – I’ve never heard of them before.

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