Alfajores

Alfajor1_2

Chris
On our last trip to Argentina I was lucky enough to celebrate my
birthday surrounded by great company and excellent food. I ate myself
into oblivion, and upon returning to our hotel for a nightcap (god I
love that word!
) I discovered a little treat waiting for me from the
staff. It turned out that Christian, our charming server
extraordinaire, brought over a glass of champagne and a small treat set
on a gorgeous small white plate. It was a treat I had never seen before.

"This is from me to you and I wish you a very happy birthday! It’s an Alfajor, a treat I’ve loved since I was a little boy."

After
fighting back a few stray tears (I cry a lot when I’m happy, if you
haven’t figured that out), I picked up this weighty cookie, rotated it
and gave it a good inspection and realized I was holding two crisp
cookies that were sandwiched around a thick layer of dulce de leche.

Everyone
stood around waiting for me to take a bite, almost as if I was tied to
some stake in the town square and the only way I’d be set free would be
from my reaction to the cookie. Frown and I’d be immolated, or smile
and toss outs some "oohs" and "ahhhs" and I’d be the town hero.

I took a bite.

"Do you like it?" Christian asked.

"Do I like it? Do I like it? Are you crazy?" I responded.

And that is how I fell in love with Alfajores.

The
Alfajor, also known as a Caramel Sandwich Cookie, is a traditional
Latin American cookie although you’ll find a variation of it in Spain
that’s usually served during Christmas. Two round biscuits are spread
with dulce de leche and sprinkled with powdered sugar. The premise
changes a bit depending on the country, and some varieties are rolled
in coconut, chopped peanuts, or dipped in chocolate. There’s even a
luscious black and white Alfajor.

Just recently our friend
Francine sent us a jar of Dulce De Leche from Uruguay. After spending a
year in Montevideo she and her husband moved back to Southern
California and she found herself with an extra jar of
mymostfavoritethingontheentireplanet. She didn’t want it to go to waste
so she sent it to us, along with a few Alfajores from Uruguay.
(Francine, you’re crazy for parting with it but I wasn’t about to talk
you out of it, tú sabes….)
I took a bite of this softer variety,
looked at the jar, took another bite, looked at the jar again, and the
idea hit me: make alfajores! Or, have Adam make alfajores!

Never
one to ignore a challenge, Adam whipped up a batch of his orange
cookies, this time omitting the orange juice so that the flavor
wouldn’t complete with that caramelly, rich taste of the dulce de
leche. He scooped up some sticky dulce de leche into a piping bag,
carefully placed dollops onto the underside of the cookie, topped it
with another cookie and voila! An Alfajor was born. A little sprinkle
of cinnamon and powdered sugar sent them over the edge, and by the end
of the day all but 6 cookies were gone. In our defense we had people
over for lunch, but that’s not saying I wouldn’t have eaten them all by
myself anyway. Cuz I totally would have.

Alfajor2

Alfajores a la Adam

You’ll find alfajores made with a crispier
cookie, you’ll even find them made with cornmeal and molasses. However,
I like a soft cookie and I’m not afraid to say it, damnit. And
everything that bothered my self-critical Adam about his version– the
cookies were too soft, the tops were too sticky, the filling oozed out
too fast–were the things I went bonkers over, so it just goes to show
you…um, I don’t know what it goes to show you now that I think about
it. Let’s just eat cookies and call it a day.

Ingredients
1 1/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup shortening (Earth Balance makes a non-hydrogenated version, hot damn!)
2 unbeaten eggs
3 cups sifted flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Method
Cream together the sugar,  shortening and the unbeaten
eggs. Add flour, salt and baking powder. Mix the milk and vanilla
extract and then add to the flour mixture. Drop by rounded tablespoon
onto a greased cookie sheet or a baking pan lined with parchment paper.
Bake at 350 degrees for 10-14 minutes, depending on oven. Keep an eye
on them, cook until the edges are light brown. The cookies will be
extremely soft and will need a few minutes to rest and firm.

To assemble the alfajores, place a dollop of dulce de leche on the
bottom of the cookie and top with another cookie. Sprinkle with
powdered sugar and enjoy until your tummy hurts.

Comments

  1. says

    Thank you very much for posting this! I hope you don’t mind if I link back your blog and photo to my blog with an Alfajor recipe. The Good Shepherd nuns in the Philippines also make a divine version so am writing about that. :-)

  2. says

    Holaa!! hey, soy Uruguaya y vivo en Australia. Les puedo dar una receta bien rica de Dulce de Leche, y tienen que ser constantes con lo que les voy a decir.
    Dulce de leche se hace solo con leche, azucar y bicarbonato. El rendimiento es del 50%. El azucar a utilizar es el 30%. Cuando tiene todo en la olla, lo agregan una cucharadita de bicarbonato de sodio y ahi lo empiezan a calentar. TIenen que hervir todo por 2 horas y revolver constantemente y digo “todo el tiempo”. La leche va a hervir y querer volcarse, bajen el fuego y luego otra vez lo suben. Asi siempre hirviendo tiene que estar. A las 2 horas van a tener un dulce precioso. La prueba para que este pronto es poner agua fria en un vaso de agua, le ponen una gota del dulce y este esta pronto cuando la gota no se disuelve y llega al fondo del vaso entera. Y de ese punto lo pueden dejar mas o menos tiempo dependiendo si lo quieren espeso o mas liquido. Soy Tecnica en Lecheria y espero que esta receta las sirva. Mucha paciencia para revolver, pero hay que hacerlo, no se van a arrepentir. suerte!!!

  3. liz says

    I can’t wait to try this recipe. I hope it’s the same as the ones I’ve gotten from Peru. They are soft and delicious. Every time I try to buy them in the US, they taste salty…which I don’t like. I will let you know how they come out.

  4. says

    I DID THE RECIPE YESTERDAY.
    I am not happy about, not the taste , less the consitency.
    I love your site and it is very inspirational, but the recipe doesn;t work.
    i am sorry.

  5. Matt says

    Hello Cristina, sorry the recipe didn’t work out for you. Several people have tried it with much success but with baking there are so many factors involved that could have made yours not come out properly. Thank you!

  6. Aysem says

    I fell in love with Alfajores de Perú…great cookies but your pictures are so enticing! Ohh, I want to eat them!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>