Alfajores Argentine Dulce de Leche Cookie Sandwiches Recipe
In high-school, my roommate, Montana introduced me to the ubiquitous Argentine treat: alfajores. After winter break, she returned with two packages of alfajores, and I fell in love with the cookies, one alfajor at a time. Two shortbread-like cookies sandwich layer of caramel filling. Encased in either a powdered sugar coating or a thin layer of milk chocolate, the cookies transcended their mass-produced origins.
Then, in college, my friend Arielle introduced me to the ingredient that filled the alfajores: dulce de leche. Dulce de leche means milk caramel, and is made from sweetened condensed milk. I made my own to fill the cookies, which wasn’t hard. You can find my recipe here. Dulce de leche can also be found at many specialty food markets and grocery stores.
Alfajores originated in Spain, during the period of al-Andalus, when Spain was largely Arab. Colonists brought the confection to countries in South and Latin America. In Spain, the sweet is called alajú and comes in a cylinder form. It contains honey, almonds, breadcrumbs and spices.
Due to an initial lack of resources in the time of colonization, the Argentinian version is primarily made of cornstarch, flour and butter, resulting in a melt-in-your-mouth confection. This recipe is from Saveur Magazine’s recent issue. It does not call for a coating of melted chocolate, but I couldn’t resist.
Sources : Wikipedia, Saveur
Alfajores (Dulce de Leche Cookie Sandwiches)
1⅔ cups cornstarch
1¼ cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
⅔ cup sugar
10 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
1 tablespoon cognac or brandy
½ tsp. lemon zest
4 egg yolks
Canned or homemade dulce de leche, for filling cookies
1 cup chopped milk or dark chocolate, for dipping cookies
Heat oven to 350°. In a bowl, sift together cornstarch, flour, and baking powder; set aside. In a mixer fitted with a paddle, beat together sugar and butter until fluffy. Add cognac and zest; beat. Add yolks one at a time; beat. Add dry ingredients; mix. Transfer dough to a floured surface, knead briefly; divide into 3 pieces. Working with 1 dough piece at a time, roll dough to 1/4 thickness. Using a 2 1/2 round cookie cutter, cut out cookies; transfer to parchment paper—lined baking sheets, spaced 1 apart. Reroll scraps and repeat. Bake until golden, 12–15 minutes. Let cool. Flip half the cookies over; top each with 1 heaping tsp. dulce de leche. Top with remaining cookies.
Fill the bottom pan of a double boiler or heavy bottomed saucepan with 2-inches water. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat to low. Put the chocolate in the top portion of the double boiler, or in a glass or stainless-steel bowl that fits inside the rim of a saucepan without touching the water. Using a spatula, stir the chocolate until uniformly melted and smooth. Dip the cookies halfway in the chocolate one at a time, and place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper to cool and harden. Keep dipping the cookies, making sure the water stays hot but not at a full boil.
Serve with coffee.