Alfajores are simply a Dulce de leche sandwich cookie that is one of the national desserts of Chile especially on September 18th which is when we celebrate our independence.
Dulce de leche is a staple in all of Chile’s national desserts but alfajores has got to be the best, I mean who wouldn’t love a shortbread like cookie filled with the caramelized goodness that Dulce de leche is.
Some of the other treats Dulce de leche is used for in Chile is Torta de mil Hojas (thousand layer cake) which is essentially thin wafer sheets layered with nothing other than Dulce da leche topped off with shredded coconut and crushed walnuts, and last but not least you have to have Brazo de Raina (queens arm), picture a jelly roll but instead of jelly it is filled of course with Dulce de leche and rolled in shredded coconut, surprise!
Safe to say Dulce de leche is a staple in every Chileans daily diet, and any dessert you can picture I’m sure Chileans have jammed Dulce de leche into it and rolled it in coconut, I mean why wouldn’t we it’s a combination made in heaven!
Give this classic alfajores recipe a try, they are so soft they’ll melt in your mouth!
- 1½ cups (200g/7 oz.) all-purpose flour
- 2⅛ cups (300g/10.5 oz.) cornstarch
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 and ¾ sticks (200g/7 oz.) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- ¾ cup (150g/5.3 oz.) granulated sugar*
- 1-2 teaspoons grated lemon zest, optional
- 3 large egg yolks
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 350g (12 oz.) Dulce de leche, for filling
- ½ cup unsweetened shredded or desiccated coconut, for rolling
- In a medium bowl, sift together flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and baking soda. Set aside.
- In a mixer bowl fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter, sugar, and lemon zest on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in egg yolks and vanilla extract just until combined. Reduce speed to low. Add the flour mixture and beat just until combined. Do not over mix or the cookies will turn out tough.
- Form the dough into a ball, then flatten slightly to form a disc. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1-2 hours, until firm enough to roll.
- If you don’t want to use the dough right away, you can refrigerate it for up to 3 days or freeze it for up to a month, then thaw it overnight in the fridge.
- Take the dough out of the fridge and let it sit on the counter for a few minutes to soften slightly for easy rolling. On a lightly floured surface (or between 2 pieces of parchment paper), roll the dough to a ⅛ or ¼-inch (3-5mm) thickness. Cut out into rounds using a 2-inch (5cm) fluted or round cookie cutter, and place the cookies on baking sheets lined with parchment paper.
- If at any point the dough becomes too warm, place it back into the fridge for a few minutes. Re-roll the remaining scraps and repeat. Place sheets with cookies in the freezer or fridge for at least 15 minutes, until firm, so that they will be less prone to spreading.
- Preheat oven to 350F/180C. Bake for 7-10 minutes, or until cookies appear golden brown at the edges. Allow cookies to cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then gently transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
- Spread the bottom half of the cookies with Dulce de leche (about a teaspoon). Sandwich together with remaining cookies, pressing slightly so that the caramel oozes out the sides. Roll the sides in shredded coconut.
- Store cookies at room temperature in an airtight container for up to a week or freeze for up to 2 months. To thaw, leave on the counter, still covered, or overnight in the fridge.
if you are not a coconut person dusting these cookies with icing sugar is also a great treat or if you’re feeling extra fancy cover them in chocolate!
Dulce de leche is something you can find in any supermarket in Chile but is much more of a rare treat in our stores in Canada so if you are having trouble finding some, here an easy way to make your own at home!
Get some cans of sweeten condensed milk, peel the labels and place in a pot with about an inch or two of water and bring to a boil once boiling bring heat to low and simmer, make sure to keep an eye on water levels and keep topping it off as the water evaporates to keep it at a steady 1-2 inches at all times.
Simmer for 1 hour then using tongs flip cans upside down and simmer for 1 hour or 2 depending on how rich you want the caramel colour and flavour to be and if you have more time boil for 3 hours and you’ll get a rich thick filling which would be more of the traditional filling for the alfajores!
Here’s the difference between the two! The left simmered for probably 2:45 before it was all said and done; the right simmered for 2 hours.
Here’s a can that was simmered for an overall of 3 hour! this would be the ideal for alfajores and all Chilean desserts.
Hope you get a chance to try out one of my childhood favourite treats, enjoy!