Alfajores

by Matt on July 30, 2007

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.

{ 57 comments… read them below or add one }

L July 30, 2007 at 2:07 pm

oh my god. these are insanely good looking.

-L

Hilda July 30, 2007 at 2:39 pm

These totally make me think of macarons, so I’ll just consider them the Latin American version of them, with dulce de leche…I think I just put on 5lbs looking at the pictures.

Robert July 30, 2007 at 3:06 pm

These look fabulous. I love simple—and these buttery looking bites definitely seem just that—simply delicious. I really like your site. From one fellow designer to another it’s wonderful. I just started mine—tell me what you think if you have a chance. I’ve listed it in the url listing. Have a good one.

keiko July 30, 2007 at 3:38 pm

Dearest Matt & Adam – I think I’m gonna have to make these tomorrow, they look absolutely lovely! (and you’ve made me want to visit Argentina once again ;))

Hope you’re both well. kxx

Marce July 30, 2007 at 4:01 pm

oh, yes, alfajores are one of the best things ever, I made alfajores de maizena a while back (it´s in the url), which have a crumbly cookie base, something to consider for your next alfajor craving. By the way, the Uruguayan dulce de leche didn´t happen to be Conaprole, right? Because if it did, count your lucky starts because that´s the best dulce de leche there is in my humble opinion.

Cenk July 30, 2007 at 4:06 pm

Drooling here!!!

Caty July 30, 2007 at 4:45 pm

They look delicious! Your photography is great. Also what a sweet thing for the hotel staff to do!

melissa mcgee July 30, 2007 at 8:35 pm

oooohhhhhhhh my tummy hurts just thinking of how i would wreck a platter of these cookies in about 10 minutes. i’m thinking ice-cold milk as a side beverage.

these look UNBELIEVABLY good. how do you not weigh a metric ton? with adam making delectables like this, i wouldn’t last a week in a house with him. hell, i wouldn’t FIT in a house after a week with him…

West July 30, 2007 at 9:30 pm

mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

defnitely not something I’d be good at making…just send some over

The Guilty Carnivore July 30, 2007 at 9:55 pm

I don’t think I’ve ever been as inspired to make cookies before. Thx for the great post. I was spying the jar of dulce con leche at the latin market when picking up some suadero the other day. Now I know what to do with it, other than eat it straight or swirl into vanilla ice cream in ridiculous amounts.

Pille July 30, 2007 at 11:19 pm

My Argentine friends in Scotland introduced me to alfajores few years ago, but I’ve never had home-made ones. They’re mouthwatering!!

Ganesha July 31, 2007 at 12:41 am

Superbe ces petits gateaux ! Très beau blog, avec de belles photographies. Ca donne envie !

Lisa (Homesick Texan) July 31, 2007 at 8:35 am

Oh yum, yum, yum, YUM! Have you tried making your own dulce de leche? I keep meaning to try the “boil a can of sweetened condensed milk” method.

myriam July 31, 2007 at 10:53 am

looks like i better move my ass to buenos aires asap. but i cant wait for the cookies, they are on my list. matt – it wont take long and you will be a baker-babe, too. there are so many cookies out there you would love – you just have to come and join the fun!

Steve July 31, 2007 at 10:55 am

omg.
yes please.

you know, i really am beginning to think that refined sugar is a drug. i always want it now! haha.

Jennywenny July 31, 2007 at 11:18 am

Drool. I just cant bring myself to bake with shortening. Do you think I could try it with butter?

Mercedes July 31, 2007 at 12:03 pm

Gasp, shock, a soft cookie!
We always make them with shortbread cookies that are made with lots of cornstach, which makes the shortbread extremely tender. Certainly worth trying, because while the shortbread is slightly crisp on the outside, the tender insides melt into the dulce de leche- the best!
Then again, I love good old Havana brand.

Virginia July 31, 2007 at 3:19 pm

I love love love Alfajores so much that my sis is on her way back from Argentina (our family lives there) with a big box from a bakery in Cordoba called “La Costanera”. I have to admit that my favorite Dulce de Leche is the kind my dad makes by boiling cans of store bought condensed milk. He fills a big pot with a few cans, covers with water and boils at medium heat for 45 minutes on each side (flip the cans over). It takes a while but it’s well worth it – the smoothest DDL you’ll EVER taste. Just remember to let the cans completely cool before opening!!!

Aoife July 31, 2007 at 10:37 pm

I’ve tried to make alfajores, but I failed because my dulce de leche was too runny. I made it with the boiled condensed milk, but because the can is closed and not monitorable. I’ve also tried baking it in a pie dish, but the top burned. Any other suggestions?

Amy July 31, 2007 at 10:55 pm

I better not make these because I will eat the whole batch myself. (I’m totally making these this week.)

Mary August 1, 2007 at 9:13 am

I’m also thinking I shouldn’t make these, if I do, my husband will love me and then hate me because he will eat them all. I think I’ll make them. Gorgeous photos!

Christopher August 1, 2007 at 12:43 pm

I think I cried the first time I ate an alfajore too! Perfection always does that to me.

Rasa Malaysia August 1, 2007 at 3:10 pm

Seems easy to make, but looks absolutely droolsome.

Anita August 2, 2007 at 8:06 am

Alfajores are one of the best things ever! So glad they’ve they finally got your photographic treatment. (i’ve been to your site before and haven’t commented – I adore your photography!)

Figs Olives Wine August 2, 2007 at 11:51 am

What a lovely hotel that must have been. These look absolutely divine.

Hillary August 3, 2007 at 11:44 am

These look so tasty and simple! Thanks for sharing!

Alisa August 3, 2007 at 1:01 pm

I viewed many Alfajores during my extended stay in Argentina, but none looked as utterly appealing as these! Awesome photography.

Christine (myplateoryours) August 3, 2007 at 3:06 pm

Way to go Adam! Hope you appreciate that guy!!

Christine (myplateoryours) August 3, 2007 at 3:06 pm

Way to go Adam! Hope you appreciate that guy!!

Mariel (tablefuel) August 5, 2007 at 3:22 am

Happy Birthday Matt!!! :) The Alfajores look so delicious. Would love to visit Argentina just to try one!

Tea August 6, 2007 at 12:56 am

I had my first alfajores a few weeks ago when I spotted them at a Salvadoran bakery here in Seattle. They had THREE cookies each, with TWO layers of dulce de leche sandwiched in between. All I can say is that it is a very good thing that bakery is on the opposite side of the city from where I live!

Patricia Scarpin August 6, 2007 at 12:41 pm

Have you tried Havannas, Matt?

dynagrrl August 8, 2007 at 8:06 pm

I absolutely love that you cry when happy… so do I.

marissa August 27, 2007 at 6:28 pm

I tried Havannas for the first time this weekend!! Where have these things been all my life.
I went searching for them on the net and found your blog. I love reading about food. Besides, alfajores might be easier for me to make than macaroons.

Marichelle September 6, 2007 at 5:17 am

Hi there, I just wanted to thank you for sharing this recipe. I finally tried it last night… they were so good. Just like you, I ate too many and got a stomach ache =)
I have pictures on my site. Thanks again!!

Blue Con October 16, 2007 at 12:19 pm

they look lovely

Sylvia November 12, 2007 at 12:32 pm

There are many kind of alfajores here in Argentina,made in different “provincias” like Cordoba and Santa fé. For example in Cordoba the alfajores are made with something like a cake texture and filled with marmalade,or another fruit preserve. In Santa Fé the cookie is like a Cracker cookie filled with dulce the leche and frosted with dry meringue.
Anyway your alfajores looks delicious and I glad that you have liked

Emita Alfajoriz March 17, 2008 at 9:52 am

MMMMMMMM MAMI LIKES MMMM MMMM MMMM OOOOOOOHHHHHH MMMMM MMMMMMMMMMHHHHHHHHHMMMMMMMMM

Emita Alfajoriz March 17, 2008 at 9:54 am

MMMMMM MMMMMM MMMMMMM MAMI LIKE MMMM OOOOOOOOHHHHHHHHHHH OHHHHH OHHHHHH MMMHHMMMMMMM

Tom and jeffrey May 8, 2008 at 9:29 am

I SO WANT SOME ALFAJORES THEY ARE SOOOO YMUMMY IN MY MOUTH

Andrea June 12, 2008 at 6:56 am

G’day Matt!

My name is Andrea – an Argentine-born Aussie living in England – I pretty much do everything you say on your ‘about’ matt’ page! I just happened to find your blog (very cool, by the way!) when looking up recipes for alfajores.

I thought I’d drop you a line and mention something my family has been doing for years that you may not have heard about. You say that your most favourite thing is dulce de leche, but it’s sometimes hard to come by in shops. We buy 4 cans (or more) of sweetened condensed milk, place them all in a big pot full of water (making sure it constantly covers the cans). We boil the cans for 2 hours non-stop (again, making sure the water never drops below can-level), and when they’re done you have the most AMAZING dulce de leche EVER! Much, much better than anything you could ever buy pre-made in the shops.

It lasts forever in the fridge (just make sure you transfer it from can to jar after you first open it), and if you occasionally get a slight sugaring on the surface, just spoon it off and you’ll be right.

Anyway, I hope this has been useful. Good luck with your future alfajores!

Andrea ;)

alfajor June 22, 2008 at 6:08 pm

El alfajor. Historia del alfajor, secretos de los alfajores, recetas para hacer alfajores de maicena, diferentes tipos de alfajor. Alfajor santafecino y alfajor cordobes. Marcas de alfajores milka, terrabusi, bagley, capitan del espacio, havanna y balcarce.

jacqueline August 4, 2008 at 1:33 am

I’m posting an interview with a chef. Last question: finish this sentence: “I’d be mortified if the world knew I eat…” his answer?

Alfajores. I looked around and found your beautiful blog. These, we would be proud of. He and I both shared stories of embarrassing loss of self-control around treats like these in South America. Someday, I’ll write a book: Gain 12 pounds in 12 days!

Think it’ll sell?

Jacqueline Church
The Leather District Gourmet

jacqueline August 4, 2008 at 1:41 am

I just wanted to say that a woman in Chile told me they make dulce de leche (they call it manjar) the same way your commenter Andrea says. Only I was told one can. Does it matter one or four? I think the key is the water level. She swore the can did not need to be opened and it would not explode. I suppose the water bath simply carmelizes the sugar?

Oooh, I have to try it now.

- Jacqueline

Alfajor de Alfajores August 24, 2008 at 3:44 pm

Alfajores. El alfajor. Historia del alfajor, secretos de los alfajores, recetas para hacer alfajores de maicena, diferentes tipos de alfajor. Alfajor santafecino y alfajor cordobes. Marcas de alfajores milka, terrabusi, bagley, capitan del espacio, havanna y balcarce.

http://www.alfajorargentino.com.ar

YESENIA September 7, 2008 at 2:08 pm

SI SE VEN MUY SABROSOS TUS ALFAJORES…
EL ALFAJOR ES DE PERU, DEL DEPARTAMENTO DE HUANCAVELICA AHÍ NACE EL ALFAJOR RICO NO? xD

LOS ALFAJORES SON PERUANOS!!!

VIVA EL PERU!!!

TODAS LAS COMIDAS,POSTRES Y BEBIDAS DE PERU SON RICAS…

jacqueline church September 18, 2008 at 5:48 am

don’t recall if i sent you the link mentioning your beautiful alfajores.

Thank you!
Jacqueline
Gourmet Food, Suite101 dot com
Cold is the New Hot

deanna October 19, 2008 at 5:28 pm

Thanks for the recipe! They were delicious! I dusted powder sugar on top just to make them a little more like the Havanna Alfajores I love to buy when in Arjentina.
Yummy!!!

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3022/2951234790_d443de3e11.jpg

Javi November 12, 2008 at 1:21 pm

son las galletas mas deliciosos del mundo!!!

Alberto December 3, 2008 at 3:29 pm

I am Uruguayan and of course I am very happy for the fact that you love alfajores and the dulce de leche!!

Saludos from Uruguay!!!

Leave a Comment