Crumbly, tender cookies sandwiched together with dulce de leche - alfajores are the kind of cookies that almost anyone will be tempted by. Welcome to your next cookie plate must-have.
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While I don't have a particularly sweet tooth, I have always had a bit of a thing for caramel. There's something about the smooth, sweet, slightly creamy texture that's just hard to resist.
I have always loved dulce de leche and after originally thinking about something else I missed, I came across these alfajores that I then felt I had to try. And I am so glad I did, they're so good.
I remember loving another little dulce de leche treat in Mexico years ago which I soon forgot the name of but always longed to see again. It was basically two pieces of wafer stuck together with dulce de leche and I eventually rediscovered they were called obleas.
However in hunting the name down, I came across alfajores which are kind of the cookie version of the same thing. How could I possibly resist?
What is dulce de leche made of?
Dulce de leche is traditionally milk and sugar cooked down together for many hours until it makes a thick caramel. These days, you may find it made from sweetened condensed milk to be a bit quicker, or at least more hands-off (as I show in my banoffee pie recipe).
Where are alfajores from?
Alfajores are often considered Argentinian, but other countries across South America lay claim to them as well. The dulce de leche used as the filling is certainly something found across Latin America, and the cookie dough is a relatively simple variation on sugar cookies.
The origins of alfajores are actually Moorish, and so they reached Latin American via Spain many centuries ago.
Interestingly, we saw alfajores pretty often in cafes in Israel this summer, in between the more traditional Israeli cookies. I assume this is due to the Moorish roots of these cookies which have stretched around the Mediterranean region. It also reminded me I really needed to get round to making these myself.
The cookie base
The cookie here is a relatively plain sugar cookie, less sweet than some but they don't need to be too sweet given the filling. They are a bit like shortbread in that they are typically made partly with flour and partly corn starch to give a meltingly smooth texture.
There are a few variations in what goes in there, some include rum or lemon, but I've gone for relatively plain, primarily a blend of this recipe and this one. After creaming together the butter and sugar, blend in the egg yolk then mix in everything else. Bake them until they are just about turning brown then once cool, sandwich together pairs with dulce de leche.
The dulce de leche in mine here is relatively pale as I made it myself (SO good, if you can spend the time) but ready made will work just as well.
Should alfajores have a coating on the outside?
In some places you'll find alfajores dipped in coconut so that it sticks to the sides of the dulce de leche filling. Yet another variation is to dip them in chocolate. Feel free to play around, but personally I think they are perfect just as they are here.
Alfajores are a classic for many in South America, particularly Argentina, and I can understand why they are so well loved. In fact my only question is why they are not better known elsewhere. Crumbly cookies joined with gooey, delicious caramel is such a wonderful combination, and one you should try soon.
Try these other cookies from around the world:
- Persian walnut cookies (nan e-gerdui)
- Brunkager (Danish spiced Christmas cookies)
- Anzac biscuits (Australian eggless biscuits/cookies with oat and coconut)
- German ginger cookies (ingwerplätzchen)
- Melomakarona (Greek honey cookies)
- Plus get more ideas in the Holiday recipes and snack recipes archives.
Tools to make these cookies
See some of my favorite cooking tools and ingredients in the Caroline's Cooking Amazon store.
Alfajores (dulce de leche sandwich cookies)
- 4 oz unsalted butter 115g, 1 stick
- ¼ cup sugar 40g
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 90g all purpose flour ½ cup plus 2tbsp
- 90g cornstarch cornflour, ½cup plus 2tbsp
- 5 tbsp dulce de leche approx
- Cream together the sugar and butter in a food processor/stand mixer or with a hand mixer. Add the egg yolk and vanilla and blend in. Add the flour and cornstarch, mix and bring together into a ball. Wrap in cling wrap/film and chill for 30 minutes.
- Part way through cooling, preheat the oven to 350F/175C.
- Once the dough has cooled, roll out the dough relatively thinly (approx ¼in/2-3mm) and cut small circles and place on a lined cookie sheet/baking sheet/tray. Repeat with the rest of the dough. Bake the cookies for approx 1-12 minutes until they are just starting to brown very slightly. They should still be very pale. Leave to cool a minute before transferring to a cooling rack.
- When the cookies are cool, put a small spoonful of dulce de leche on one cookie and press another on top. Make sure you press them together holding the middle of the cookie so the cookies don't break. If needed, twist them slightly to spread out the dulce de leche. While I didn't here, you can roll the outside in coconut if you like, or lightly dust with confectioner's/icing sugar.
We're celebrating International cookies today - see the other tasty treats from around the world:
- Boussou La Tmessou (Algerian Shortbread Cookies) from Tara's Multicultural Table
- Chocolate Sable Cookies from Curious Cuisiniere
- Dutch Speculaas Cookies from Palatable Pastime
- Pepparkakor (Swedish ginger cookies) from The Redhead Baker
- Peppermint Shortbread Cookies from A Day in the Life on the Farm
- Polvorosas from Five Senses Palate
Today also marks the start of Christmas Cookie Week - there will be tasty treats all week long starting with this great list:
- Candy Cane Tassies by Cindy’s Recipes and Writings
- Cranberry White Chocolate Chip Cookies by The Bitter Side of Sweet
- Crystallized Gingerbread Chocolate Chip Cookies by Faith, Hope, Love and Luck Survive Despite a Whiskered Accomplice
- Easy Sugar Cookies by Bear & Bug Eats
- Empire Cookies by Red Cottage Chronicles
- Gingerbread Gooey Butter Cookies by Making Miracles
- Gingerbread Men Cookies by The Freshman Cook
- Graham Cracker Chocolate Chip Cookies by Books n Cooks
- Holiday Sugar Sprinkle Butter Cookies by Family Around the Table
- Italian Rainbow Cookies by Everyday Eileen
- Loaded Festive Chocolate Chip Cookies by Daily Dish Recipes
- Makrut Macaroons by Culinary Adventures with Camilla
- Mocha filled Sandwich Cookies by Jolene’s Recipe Journal
- Oatmeal Raisin Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies by A Kitchen Hoor’s Adventures
- Pecan Caramel Turtle Bars by Tip Garden
- Peppermint Candy Canes by Karen’s Kitchen Stories
- Peppermint Crinkle Cookies by Strawberry Blondie Kitchen
- Peppermint Macarons by House of Nash Eats
- Peppermint Mocha Shortbread Cookies by Cooking with Carlee
- Pistachio Wedding Cookies by Soulfully Made
- Raspberry Filled Coconut Snowflakes by Making The Most of Naptime
- Rum Logs by Corn, Beans Pigs and Kids
- Vanilla Bean Pizzelles by Love and Confections
- White Chocolate Dipped Ginger Cookies by Kate’s Recipe Box