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

    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.

  2. says

    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.

  3. says

    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

  4. says

    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.

  5. says

    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…

  6. says

    mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

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

  7. says

    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.

  8. says

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

  9. says

    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!

  10. says

    omg.
    yes please.

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

  11. Jennywenny says

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

  12. says

    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.

  13. says

    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!!!

  14. says

    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?

  15. says

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

  16. says

    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!

  17. says

    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!)

  18. says

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

  19. says

    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!

  20. says

    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.

  21. says

    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!!

  22. says

    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

  23. Emita Alfajoriz says

    MMMMMMMM MAMI LIKES MMMM MMMM MMMM OOOOOOOHHHHHH MMMMM MMMMMMMMMMHHHHHHHHHMMMMMMMMM

  24. Emita Alfajoriz says

    MMMMMM MMMMMM MMMMMMM MAMI LIKE MMMM OOOOOOOOHHHHHHHHHHH OHHHHH OHHHHHH MMMHHMMMMMMM

  25. Andrea says

    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 ;)

  26. says

    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.

  27. says

    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

  28. says

    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

  29. YESENIA says

    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…

  30. Alberto says

    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!!!

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