Looking for a delicious and unique cookie recipe to add to your collection? These amazing Alfajores are sure to impress! These beloved cookies are a staple of South American cuisine and feature two delicate, buttery cookies that melt in your mouth, filled with rich and creamy Dulce de Leche and finished with a sprinkle of unsweetened shredded coconut. They offer an irresistible combination of sweetness and texture, making them perfect for any time of day, whether you're looking for a sweet treat with your morning coffee or tea, a tasty afternoon snack, or a decadent dessert.
The best part? This Alfajores recipe is quite easy to make, even for beginners. You can quickly whip up a batch of these delectable treats with simple ingredients and basic techniques. So whether you're looking for a new and exciting cookie recipe to add to your repertoire or want to try something new and delicious, these Alfajores will satisfy you. So why wait? Get baking and discover the magic of these delectable treats today!😉
- What is Alfajores?
- What is the Origen of Alfajores?
- Why Are They Called Alfajores?
- Brief Highlights Of Our Alfajores Recipe:
- Alfajores Ingredients
- Tools You'll need
- How to Make Alfajores
- How to Assemble
- How to Serve
- How to Store & Re-Heat
- How to Freeze
- Tips for Making The Best Alfajores
- Related Recipes:
- Watch How to Make Alfajores
- 📋 Recipe
What is Alfajores?
Alfajores are cookies that originated in South America, particularly in Paraguay, Argentina, Peru, and Uruguay. They consist of two delicate, buttery cookies filled with Dulce de Leche (a creamy caramel-like spread made from sweetened condensed milk) and dusted with powdered sugar, coconut, or chocolate. Alfajores have a soft and crumbly texture that melts in your mouth, making them a popular treat worldwide. They're often enjoyed with coffee or tea and are perfect for a sweet snack or dessert.
What is the Origen of Alfajores?
While the exact origin of Alfajores is somewhat unclear, historians believe that the cookies likely originated in Andalusia, Spain, during the Moorish occupation in the 8th century. It's believed that the word "alfajor" is derived from the Arabic word "al-hasú," which means "filled." During this time, almonds and honey were popular ingredients in Spain, and the original Alfajores were believed to be made with these ingredients.
Over time, the recipe for Alfajores spread to other countries, including Paraguay, Argentina, Uruguay, Peru, and Chile, where it evolved and adapted to local tastes and ingredients. For example, in Paraguay, Argentina, Uruguay, and Chile, the cookies are typically filled with Dulce de Leche, a creamy caramel-like spread made from sweetened condensed milk. In Peru, Alfajores are often made with manjar blanco or dulce de leche.
Today, Alfajores are considered a beloved traditional treat in South America and are enjoyed by people worldwide. They come in various flavors and styles, from classic Dulce de Leche-filled cookies to those filled with chocolate or fruit jam. Regardless of the variation, Alfajores have a soft and crumbly texture that melts in your mouth, making them the perfect sweet snack or dessert to enjoy with coffee or tea.
Why Are They Called Alfajores?
Although alfajores are more common in Latin American countries, their etymology goes back to its roots in the Middle East. The name alfajores may have its origin in Arabic words such as "al-fakher," which translates as luxurious, "al-hasu," meaning stuffed, or "alfahua," meaning honeycomb. When the cookies arrived in Spain, they came to be called alajú, which eventually evolved into alfajor. Once they reached South America, they became known as alfajores.
Brief Highlights Of Our Alfajores Recipe:
- Taste: Alfajores are a delightful combination of buttery, tender cookies filled with sweet and creamy Dulce de Leche. The cookies have a delicate and slightly crumbly texture that pairs perfectly with the rich caramel flavor of the filling. Adding unsweetened shredded coconut on the edges adds a pleasant hint of coconut flavor and a subtle crunch.
- Texture: The Alfajores cookies have a soft, crumbly, and melt-in-your-mouth texture, while the Dulce de Leche filling is smooth and creamy. The unsweetened shredded coconut on the edges provides a contrasting texture, making each bite a delightful experience.
- Method: This Alfajores recipe provides clear and easy-to-follow instructions for making these delectable cookies. The dough comes together smoothly, and the assembly process is straightforward. Whether you are an experienced baker or a beginner, you can enjoy making and indulging in these delicious treats.
Note: The full ingredients list is provided in the recipe card below.
- Unsalted Butter: It gives richness, tenderness, and structure to cookies.
- Confectioner's Sugar: It functions as a sweetener and provides flavor. It also helps to create a tender texture.
- Pure vanilla extract & Clear Vanilla: It enhances the flavor. You can also add the zest of a lemon to enhance the flavor of the Alfajor cookie, but this is optional.
- All-purpose flour: It creates structure and helps bind the other ingredients together, creating a more consistent cookie.
- Egg Yolks: Adding egg yolks to Alfajor serves a few purposes. First, egg yolks add structure and chewiness to the cookies and moisture. Egg Yolks also helps to bind the other ingredients together, creating a more cohesive cookie dough that holds its shape when baked. Additionally, egg yolks contribute flavor and richness to cookies, making them more satisfying to eat.
- Baking powder: It helps cookies rise.
- Dulce de Leche: When making alfajor, it is important to use a thick type of dulce de leche, such as Repostero; this will ensure that the alfajor filling does not leak out. Repostero is a thicker dulce de leche with a deeper flavor than the traditional variety, making it ideal for use in alfajor. I used La Lechera brand canned dulce de leche because it was what I had in my pantry then. This brand works well in alfajor cookies because it is thick, creamy, and rich, with a deep caramel flavor.
Tools You'll need
- Measuring cups
- Measuring spoons
- Liquid measuring cup
- Medium bowl
- Stand Mixer or hand mixer Rubber spatula
- Parchment paper
- 2 Baking sheets
- Wire Rack
- Citrus zester
How to Make Alfajores
Note: The full instruction is provided in the recipe card below.
Sift the cornstarch, baking powder, flour, and salt; set aside. In a stand mixer bowl fitted with a paddle attachment, at medium-high speed, cream the unsalted butter, salt, and confectioners' sugar until light, smooth, and creamy for about 3 minutes; beat in pure vanilla extract and clear vanilla; you can also add the optional lemon zest at this step. Beat in the egg yolks one at a time, and mix briefly to incorporate until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed.
Reduce the mixer speed to medium-low and gradually beat the flour mixture until the dough comes together; do not over-mix, or the cookies will turn out tough. Form the dough into two disks, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerate until firm, about 1 to hours. (If you don't want to bake the alfajores right away, you can wrap the cookie dough in plastic wrap, store it in an airtight container, refrigerate it for up to three days, or freeze it for up to one month).
Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat to 350°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside. Take the dough out of the fridge and let it sit on the counter for a few minutes to soften slightly for easy rolling. Sandwich 1 disk of dough between 2 sheets of parchment and roll the dough ¼ inch thick.
Cut out rounds using a 2 ½-inch cookie or biscuit cutter and put them on the prepared baking sheets about 1 inch apart (about 12 cookies per sheet). Repeat with the second disk of dough. (If the dough becomes too warm, put it back into the fridge for a few minutes. Then, re-roll the remaining scraps and repeat the process).
Bake the alfajores, rotating the baking sheets halfway through, until set and the underside of the alfajores appears lightly golden brown but has not taken on any color on top, 8 to 10 minutes.
Let the alfajores cool on the sheets for 3 minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely. The cookies can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
How to Assemble
Scoop the Dulce de Leche in a piping bag with a plain tip. Pipe a generous amount of Dulce de Leche on one-half of the cookies and use the remaining cookies to top them, creating a sandwich by pressing gently until the caramel filling reaches the edges; you could use a butter knife if you prefer. Roll the edges in unsweetened shredded coconut. Alternatively, dust them with powdered sugar or dip them in melted chocolate. Then, enjoy the Alfajores with a tall cup of cold milk!😋🥛
- Unsalted Butter: You can substitute with salted butter, but reduce the amount of salt called for in the recipe. You can also use margarine or a plant-based butter substitute if you prefer.
- Confectioner's Sugar: If you don't have confectioner's sugar, you can make your own by blending granulated sugar in a blender or food processor until it becomes a fine powder. You can also use regular granulated sugar, but it may affect the texture of the cookies slightly.
- All-purpose Flour: If you prefer a gluten-free option, use a gluten-free all-purpose flour blend. Just make sure it is a 1:1 substitute for regular flour.
- Dulce de Leche: If you can't find dulce de leche or prefer a different filling, you can use caramel sauce, Nutella, fruit preserves, or even peanut butter as alternatives.
- Shredded Coconut: If you don't like coconut or have an allergy, you can omit the shredded coconut coating altogether. You can dust the cookies with powdered sugar or dip them in melted chocolate.
- Chocolate Alfajores: Add cocoa powder to the cookie dough to make chocolate-flavored cookies. You can dip the assembled Alfajores in melted chocolate for an extra chocolatey treat.
- Lemon or Orange Zest: Add grated lemon or orange zest to the cookie dough for a citrusy twist. This will add a refreshing flavor to the cookies.
- Almond or Coconut Flour: Substitute a portion of the all-purpose flour with almond or coconut flour to give the cookies a nutty or tropical flavor.
- Nutty Fillings: Instead of Dulce de Leche, try filling the cookies with a nut-based spread like almond butter, peanut butter, or hazelnut. This will add a different flavor and texture to the cookies.
- Fruit Fillings: Experiment with different fruit preserves or jams as fillings. Strawberry, raspberry, and apricot preserves work well and add a fruity sweetness to the cookies.
- Spices: Add cinnamon, nutmeg, or cardamom to the cookie dough for a warm and aromatic flavor. These spices pair well with the sweetness of the cookies.
- Matcha Alfajores: Add matcha powder to the cookie dough for a unique green tea flavor. You can also dust the assembled cookies with matcha powder for an extra touch of color.
How to Serve
- Classic Presentation: Serve Alfajores as they are, with two cookies sandwiched with Dulce de Leche filling. The cookies can be dusted with powdered sugar or rolled in unsweetened shredded coconut for added texture and presentation.
- Accompanied with Coffee or Tea: Alfajores are often enjoyed with a cup of coffee or tea. Combining the sweet, buttery cookies and the warm beverage creates a delightful flavor pairing. Dunking the cookies in the coffee or tea can soften them slightly, enhancing the melt-in-your-mouth experience.
- Dessert Platter: Arrange the Alfajores and other sweet treats on a dessert platter. This can include other cookies, pastries, or fruit. The variety of options allows guests to choose their favorites and create their dessert combinations.
- Gift or Party Favor: Alfajores make lovely gifts or party favors. Stack the cookies in a decorative box or wrap them in cellophane or paper. This way, they can be given as gifts for special occasions or enjoyed as a sweet treat at parties and events.
How to Store & Re-Heat
To store: Place them in an airtight container or a sealable plastic bag at room temperature. Ensure the container is tightly sealed to prevent air and moisture from affecting the cookies. Stored properly, Alfajores can last for up to one week. If you live in a humid environment, you may want to store them in the refrigerator to maintain their freshness and extend their shelf life. Just be aware that refrigeration can slightly alter the texture of the cookies, making them slightly firmer.
To reheat: Alfajores are typically enjoyed at room temperature, but if you prefer warm cookies or want to refresh them, you can gently reheat them. Preheat your oven to a low temperature, around 300°F (150°C). Place the Alfajores on a baking sheet and warm them in the oven for a few minutes until they are slightly warmed. Be careful not to overheat them; they can become too soft or lose shape. Alternatively, you can use the microwave. Heat one or two Alfajores on a microwave-safe plate for about 10 seconds.
Alfajor cookie dough can be made a day ahead and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Baked and Assembled Alfajores cookies can be made a day ahead and kept airtight at room temperature for up to 3 days or refrigerated for up to 5 days.
How to Freeze
Alfajores Cookie dough can be frozen for up to 3 months: Freeze the cookie dough before rolling it out. Prepare the dough, divide it in half, flatten each half into a disk-like pie crust, wrap each in plastic wrap, and place them in a freezer bag; freeze them for up to 3 months: Thaw the disks in the refrigerator for about 1 hour, then bring to room temperature. Then proceed with the recipe as directed. Bake directly from frozen, as directed in the recipe, but add 1 to 2 extra minutes to the baking time.
Tips for Making The Best Alfajores
- Use good-quality ingredients: Since Alfajores have a simple flavor profile, it's important to use the best-quality ingredients. Choose high-quality butter, pure vanilla extract, and fresh eggs for the best flavor and texture.
- Chill the dough: Chilling the dough before rolling and cutting helps the cookies hold their shape and prevents them from spreading too much during baking. Make sure to wrap the dough tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for at least 1 hour before rolling.
- Roll the dough evenly: When rolling the dough, try to keep it as even in thickness as possible. This ensures that all the cookies bake evenly and have a consistent texture. Using rolling pin rings or guides can help you achieve a uniform thickness.
- Don't overbake: Alfajores should be delicate and slightly crumbly, so avoid overbaking them. Keep a close eye on them while in the oven, and remove them as soon as the edges turn golden. The cookies will continue to firm up as they cool.
- Use dulce de leche generously: The dulce de leche is the star of the show in Alfajores, so don't skimp on the filling. Be generous when piping or spreading the dulce de leche between the cookies to ensure every bite is filled with its creamy sweetness.
- Allow flavors to meld: After assembling the Alfajores, let them sit at room temperature for a little while, ideally for a few hours or overnight. This melts the flavors, resulting in an even more delicious and tender cookie.
- Store properly: Store your Alfajores in an airtight container at room temperature to keep them fresh. Separating the layers with parchment paper can prevent them from sticking together. If you live in a hot or humid climate, refrigerating them can help maintain their freshness.
My dough is too crumbly and won't come together. What should I do?
This could be due to overmixing the dough or not adding enough egg yolks. To fix this, add extra room-temperature butter or a splash of milk to help the dough come together without overmixing.
My cookies turned out too hard or tough. What went wrong?
Overmixing the dough or overbaking the cookies can result in a tougher texture. Mix the dough until it comes together, and bake them until they are set but not overly browned.
Can I use sweetened shredded coconut instead of unsweetened?
You can, but remember that it will make the cookies sweeter. If you prefer a less sweet version, stick with unsweetened shredded coconut as per the recipe.
My Dulce de Leche is too thick to pipe. What should I do?
If your Dulce de Leche is too thick, gently heat it in a microwave for a few seconds or on low heat on the stovetop to make it more easily spreadable or pipeable.
Can I use a different filling besides Dulce de Leche?
Traditional Alfajores are filled with Dulce de Leche, but you can experiment with other fillings like jam, chocolate ganache, or even Nutella if you prefer a different flavor.
My cookies stuck to the parchment paper. How can I prevent this?
To prevent cookies from sticking to the parchment paper, you can lightly grease the parchment paper with a bit of butter or use a silicone baking mat. Additionally, ensure the cookies have cooled for a few minutes on the baking sheet before attempting to transfer them to a wire rack.
- Guava Thumbprint Cookies
- Peanut Butter Cup Cookies
- Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies with Dulce de leche
- Soft Molasses Cookies
- Peanut Butter Cookies
- Peanut Butter Blossoms
Watch How to Make Alfajores
How to Make Alfajores
For the Alfajores:
- 100 gr. (¾ cup) all-purpose flour
- 400 gr. (3-⅓ cups) cornstarch
- 15 gr. (1 tablespoon) baking powder
- 150 gr. (1-¼ sticks / 10 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 150 gr. (1-¼ cups) Powdered sugar
- 9 large Egg yolks , room temperature
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon clear vanilla or pure vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- Zest of 1 lemon , optional
For the filling:
- (2) 13.4 oz/ 380g Canned Dulce de Leche (I used La Lechera brand)
- 100 g (1 cup) Unsweetened Shredded coconut ( I used Bob's Red Mill Brand )
- In a medium bowl, sift the cornstarch, baking powder, and flour; set aside. In a stand mixer bowl fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the unsalted butter, salt, and confectioners' sugar at medium-high speed until light, smooth and creamy for about 3 minutes. Beat in pure vanilla extract and clear vanilla; you can also add the optional lemon zest at this step.
- Beat in the egg yolks one at a time, and mix briefly to incorporate until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula, as needed.
- Reduce the mixer speed to medium-low and gradually beat the flour mixture until the dough comes together; do not over-mix, or the cookies will turn out tough.
- Form the dough into two disks, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour. (If you don't want to bake the alfajores right away, you can wrap the cookie dough in plastic wrap, store it in an airtight container and refrigerate it for up to three days, or freeze it for up to one month).
- Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat to 350°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside.
- Take the dough out of the fridge and let it sit on the counter for a few minutes to soften slightly for easy rolling. Sandwich 1 disk of dough between 2 sheets of parchment and roll the dough ¼ inch thick.
- Cut out rounds using a 2 ½-inch cookie or biscuit cutter and put them on the prepared baking sheets about 1 inch apart (about 12 cookies per sheet). Repeat with the second disk of dough. (If the dough becomes too warm at any point, put it back into the fridge for a few minutes. Then, re-roll the remaining scraps and repeat the process).
- Bake the alfajores, rotating the baking sheets halfway through, until set, and the underside of the alfajores appears lightly golden brown but has not taken on any color on top, 9 to 10 minutes. Let the alfajores cool on the sheets for 3 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. The cookies can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
How to Assemble the Alfajores
- Scoop the Dulce de Leche in a piping bag fitted with a plain tip. Pipe a generous amount of Dulce de Leche on one-half of the cookies and use the remaining cookies to top them, creating a sandwich by pressing gently until the caramel filling reaches the edges; you could use a butter knife if you prefer.
- Roll the edges in unsweetened shredded coconut. Alternatively, you can dust them with powdered sugar or dip them in melted chocolate. Then, enjoy the Alfajores with a cup of cold milk!
All nutritional information is based on third-party calculations and is only an estimate. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods, and portion sizes per household.