Thursday, March 12, 2009

Alfajores, Attempt Numero Dos



My failed attempt at making alfajores last year has been haunting me. One, I hate failing at anything, and two, I really wanted to learn a dessert that incorporated the heavenly dulce de leche that I know and love. If you haven't tried dulce de leche yet, you need to! It is a wonderful Latin American milk-based creation that tastes very similar to caramel or toffee.

An alfajor is dulce de leche sandwiched in between two shortbread cookies. Although my cookies did not turn out perfectly, I have made big strides since last year, and am just happy that I did not have to discard all of my hard work this time around. My shortbread actually tasted like a cookie, and my dulce de leche was not runny (I need to thank Bri for pointing me to David Lebovitz' dulce de leche recipe).

This recipe involves three steps:

1. Make the dulce de leche
2. Make the shortbread cookies
3. Assemble the alfajor

This recipe makes about 20 cookies.


Dulce de Leche
(Adapted from David Lebovitz)
- 1 can (13 oz.) of sweetened condensed milk
- few flecks of sea salt

Shortbread Cookies
Makes approximately 40 cookies
- 3 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
- 1 1/2 sticks of butter at room temperature
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 cup of confectioner's sugar
- 1/4 cup milk (optional)

Method for Alfajores

Make the Dulce de Leche:
1. Preheat the oven to 425° F (220° C).

2. Pour one can of sweetened condensed milk (not evaporated milk) into a glass pie plate or shallow baking dish. Stir in a few flecks of sea salt.

3. Set the pie plate within a larger pan, such as a roasting pan, and add hot water until it reaches halfway up the side of the pie plate.

4. Cover the pie plate snugly with aluminum foil and bake for 1 to 1¼ hours. (Check a few times during baking and add more water to the roasting pan as necessary).

5. Once the Dulce de Leche is nicely browned and caramelized, remove from the oven and let cool. Once cool, whisk until smooth.

Dulce de Leche

6. Store in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Warm gently in a warm water bath or microwave oven before using.

Make the Shortbread Cookies:
1. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the butter, sugar, and vanilla until smooth.

2. In a separate bowl, sift the flour and salt.

3. Slowly add the sifted flour and salt into the butter mixture, and mix on low speed.

4. If your mixture is too crumbly, add in the milk, and mix on low speed until a dough is formed.

5. Roll the dough into the shape of a flat disk, and cover it with plastic wrap. Refrigrate for 30-60 minutes.

6. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees F.

7. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough to 1/8 - 1/4 inch thick, and cut the dough with a round 2 inch diameter cookie cutter.

Shortbread Cookie Cutting

8. Place the cookies on a baking sheet and refrigerate for 15 minutes. This will ensure your cookies keep their shape while baking.

Raw Shortbread Cookies

9. Bake 15 - 20 minutes, or until the edges start to brown. Cool the cookies on a rack.

Assemble the Alfajor:
1. With a butter knife, spread the dulce de leche on a shortbread cookie.

2. Sandwich the dulce de leche by placing another shortbread cookie on top.

3. To garnish, sift confectioners sugar on top of the cookie until it is fully covered.


The goal is to get as much dulce de leche in the sandwich without it spilling over the edges. I always get greedy and fail at this part (blush).

Because I tend to put too much dulce de leche in the middle, I store the alfajores in the fridge to avoid the dulce de leche from becoming too soft. If it does become too soft, the cookies start to slide, causing the sandwich to be lopsided.

Looking for some more dessert recipe ideas? Why not try these ones:


veggie mudbug said...

i was one of the lucky individuals that actually got to sample this second attempt... all i can say is DEEEEELICIOUS!! well done, conrats, and feel free to drop some more off.

maria said...

For dulce de leche you can just boil the unopened tin of condensed milk in an ordinary pan or a pressure cooker, about half an hour for the pressure cooker and about an hour for an ordinary pan,after that you take it out and let it get cold before opening,here in Spain its how we do it, nice on toast or as a cake filling...

nooschi said...

Hi Maria,
Thanks for comment. I was afraid to boil anything after my last failed attempt, but I may just try out your method. It doesn't sound hard at all,and it sounds like an authentic way of making dulce de leche. Thanks again!

Coco Bean said...

Oh, I have been meaning to make these! I have also heard about "boiling" a can of condensed milk but never tried it. Anyways, just wanted to say hi to a fellow Canadian!

Siri said...

These look like a complete success to me! Dulce de Leche + cookie = mighty tasty

Thanks for sharing,

K said...

I haven't had these since living in Argentina, and I've often lamented the lack of them here!
And now you say I can make my own?!

theforeignkitchen said...

Que ricoooo!! After my trip to Chile I became completely addicted to the handmade alfajores I found at la Chocolatiere in the Vitacura area of Santiago. They had all sorts of delectable flavors such as orange, fig and nut, and amaretto, mixed into the manjar (dulce de leche) and then everything was covered in artisan chocolate. Of course I smuggled back a bag, which lasted me all of half the flight.

Maru said...

I had never tasted an alfajor until I went to Monterrey, Mexico. A friend gave me a box of some. OMG were they good!! I fell in love. They were from a company called bits'nbites. Luckily I found their website so I can get my fix :D

But I'm going to try this recipe for sure! That way I can have them whenever I want.

Anonymous said...

Great Stuff.