Alfajores are a type of small cookie that is found in Latin America, where two plain cookies sandwich a layer of dulce de leche. The cookies are then often sprinkled with powdered sugar or rolled in a bit of shredded coconut to finish them off. As it is with so many cookies and cakes, there are many ways to make alfajores. Some are very cake-like, while others pack in so much dulce de leche filling that they verge on being candies. Still others use different fillings than the traditional dulce de leche for some variety. I’ve had a few variations, but the simpler renditions always appeal to me. I like a butter cookie with a generous spread of dulce de leche inside, and perhaps a bit of shredded coconut rolled around the edges when I have some handy.
These cookies are simple butter cookies, with a hint of vanilla added to them. They’re very tender, with a lovely buttery flavor to them, and they take on a nice chewiness once they’ve been filled with the dulce de leche. They’re quick and easy to make because, although they are sandwich cookies, the dough is simply dropped onto the baking sheet and left to spread during baking, not rolled out or sliced. That said, because you’re not using a cookie cutter to get the sizes exact, try to make sure that each ball of dough you put onto the baking sheet is about the same size.
For the filling, you can use homemade dulce de leche or store-bought. The amount that you use will vary by exactly how much filling you want inside your cookies (I like a moderate amount, but others like to pile it in!). Keep in mind that it may ooze out the sides of the cookies a bit if the dulce de leche is on the thin side, so don’t quite spread the filling to the edge of the cookies. If it does run out, roll the edges of the cookies in some shredded coconut to add a little more flavor and help keep that filling in place.
Alfajores (Dulce de Leche Cookies)
3/4 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
approx 1 cup dulce de leche
Preheat oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.
In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light. Beat in egg and vanilla extract. Gradually blend in dry ingredients until dough comes together.
Shape dough into 3/4-inch balls and place on prepared baking sheet. Press dough down with the back of a spoon or fork to flatten slightly.
Bake for 9-11 minutes, until cookies are set and edges just begin to brown.
Cool on a wire rack before filling.
When cookies are cool, spread 2-3 tsp dulce de leche (or to taste if you’d like more) between pairs of cookies before sandwiching them together.
Makes about 18 sandwich cookies.
MaryMohFebruary 1, 2010
Looks very delicious. Love the filling. Would be so good with tea.
SaraFebruary 1, 2010
These look good. There are a lot of different recipes – my husband is from Ecuador and the recipe I make for him involves more cornstarch than flour and some lemon zest.
For special occasions I’ve dipped them in chocolate, and sometimes I use warmed guava paste as a filling. You can also use cookie cutters and make them into decorated Christmas cookies; the simpler shapes can still be decorated sandwich cookies but they are a bit delicate.
My favorite alfajores adventure was making them so that my mother in law could eat them – she can’t tolerate much cholesterol and hadn’t had them in a long time. I made a version with margarine and only a tiny bit of egg yolk (and made cholesterol free dulce de leche with fat free condensed milk) and surprised her for Christmas – they tasted a little different but she was so excited 🙂
KardelenFebruary 1, 2010
Havanna, a company from Angentina makes amazing alfajores. They are like this, only coated in dark chocolate or merengue for good measure. Ah, to die for.:)
daniFebruary 1, 2010
a real comfort cookie 🙂
Avanika (Yumsilicious Bakes)February 2, 2010
Oh these have been on my to try since forever!!
BeckyFebruary 2, 2010
These look so good! Do you think these would make good travelers, or would they crumble?
SaraFebruary 2, 2010
They look great! I’m a huge fan of dulce de leche ice cream so I’m definitely going to have to try these out.
UrsulaFebruary 4, 2010
I made them… sooo sooo yummmmmie:)
Congrats, love your blog!
Martha (Cherryspoon)March 15, 2010
These look so great! My husband LOVES alfajor and he misses them! They’re quite pervasive in Brazil as well. I am so making these for his birthday (03/18)!