Okay, that’s a long title. But not long enough to show my love for this small and elegant cookie.
The streets of Buenos Aires were dotted with little confectionery shops, displaying mountainous desserts. Each shop was unique from another, but always with a pile of alfajores rolled in coconuts.
A decadent filling of dulce de leche sandwiched between two round, crisp, airy buttery shortbread cookies.
Traditionally in Argentina, alfajores are paired with strong and dark coffee. Sadly, my alfajores never last before the arrival of my espresso. Instead of waiting for another trip to Argentina, I decided to bring the joy closer to home and make a batch in my kitchen!
The secret to classic Argentinean alfajores is CORN STARCH (maizena), almost equal parts corn starch to flour. This mysterious ingredient creates a crumbly and light alfajor cookie base. On its own, it’s a good buttery shortbread cookie. The magic happens when two cookies are filled with dulce de leche and covered with coconut. The crumbly alfojores are glued together by the sticky caramelized dulce de leche.
Alfajores de Maizena
Recipe adapted from Dulce Pampa
Prep time: 30 min
Bake time: 10 min
Total time: 3 hours
Makes: 60 cookies = 30 alfajores
- 250 gram unsalted butter at room temperature, cubed
- 2/3 cup granulated sugar
- 4 egg yolks
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon Scotch (from the cameraman’s expensive Scotch collection. The original recipe calls Cognac, which I don’t have on hand. Now thinking about it, rum would be a good substitution as well)
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 5 cups all purpose flour
- 5 cups corn starch
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- Optional: shredded unsweetened coconut
- In a food processor with a dough blade, cream butter and sugar together until fluffy. (You can use a mixer fitted with a paddle as well)
- Add the egg yolks one at a time, then lemon, Scotch and vanilla extract.
- In a separate bowl, sift corn starch, flour and baking powder together. Add dry ingredients in three parts to wet ingredients, pulse each time to form smooth dough.
- Wrap the dough tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour.
- Preheat the oven to 350 F and line two sheet pans with parchment paper
- Divide dough into 3 pieces, working with 1 dough piece at a time. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough to 4mm thick and cut out cookies using a 4 ~ 5cm round cookie cutter (or a shot glass). Reroll scraps and repeat as needed.
- Transfer the cut cookies to the lined baking sheet with 1 inch of space between them. Then place in the freezer for 5 minutes to firm up the cookies.
- Bake for 10 minutes, or until the bottom of the cookies is slightly brown.
- Let the cookies cool to room temperature before filling.
Vegan Dulce De Leche
- 1 can (13.5 oz) full fat coconut milk
- 5 cups almond milk (I used Blue Diamond unsweetened almond milk)
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- 2 inch vanilla bean (anything is better with a hint of vanilla right?)
- ¼ teaspoon coarse sea salt
*Note: most recipes use a ratio of 1 quart of milk to 1 cup of sugar, I prefer mine a tad less sweet.
- Combine all ingredients into a medium-sized saucepan and stir over medium heat until simmering.
- Find the right balance of heat so the milk is actively bubbling but not boiling over.
- Be patient! Let time do its magic. Let the milk mixture simmer for about 2 hours, stirring occasionally.
- After reaching the desired color and consistency, take it off the heat.
- For a perfect silky smooth dulce de leche, strain through a mesh colander. Optional: if you just want to grab a spoon, dig in! Watch out, the dulce de leche might still be hot!
- Put a spoonful of dulce de leche that you just made on one cookie and top with a second cookie. Press gently, twist the cookies around to spread the filling evenly. It’s very important to handle these cookies gently, I may or may not have broken a few due to my impatience!
- Smoother some extra dulce de leche on the sides and roll in shredded coconut to cover the sides.
- Bon appetit!
Since I made too many cookies or too little dulce de leche, I made chocolate drizzle shortbread cookies by simply drizzling molten chocolate over these delicate cookies. And voila!