Alfajores. I had never even heard of these little treats until I stumbled across them while food surfing on tastespotting and boy am I glad I did! A few of the bloggers mentioned that they were a Latin American cookie, typically hailing from Uruguay and Argentina, so I asked my dad if he had ever had them. As soon as I mentioned the word Alfajor his eyes glazed over as though he was reminiscing about an old sweetheart. When he was little in Uruguay he would save up his pocket money to go to the corner store to stock up on these. Kids were split into two groups, those that liked the powdered sugar ones and those who liked the chocolate dipped ones. I had to make them for him.
The first step is to make the Dulce de Leche (unless you want to buy it pre-made but why bother as its so easy!). There are many ways to make Dulce de Leche and typically I used the “In the Can” method but as I hadn’t planned ahead I used the quicker microwave method this time. After having done both I actually think the microwave method is the easiest (just use a large enough bowl and make sure to turn the power down or you’ll have a huge mess, as I learnt). Once you have the Dulce de Leche made, start baking!
There are dozens of recipes out there but the one I use is from Bake List’s site. My dad has confirmed its just like the original.
Hardly adapted from Paula Austin via myrecipes.com
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
½ cup white sugar
2 large egg yolks
1 large egg
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 shy-cups all-purpose flour
1 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon kosher salt
About 2 cups dulce de leche or caramel sauce
1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until smooth. Add the egg yolks, egg, and vanilla, beating until combined.
2. In a medium bowl, mix together the 2 cups flours, cornstarch, salt, and baking powder. Add to the butter mixture in small increments, beating until blended. Divide the dough in half, pressing each half into a disk, wrap the disks in plastic and the freeze until firm, about 30 minutes.
3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Unwrap dough on a lightly floured surface. Rolling one disk at a time to 1/8 of an inch thickness. Cut out 2-3 inch diameter rounds, placing about one inch apart on a buttered baking sheet. Bake for about 10 minutes, or until the cookies just begin to turn golden brown. Let cool completely on a cooling rack.
4. To make sandwiches, spread about 1 tablespoon of the mixed dulce de leche on a cookie, then top with another cookie, twisting to spread the filling. Dust with powdered sugar.
Although my dad has never complained about the powdered sugar Alfajores I make he did say he was always the chocolate dipped kind of kid so I’ll have to add those to my to do list at some point.
Whats with the flying pig? A little ode to my dad. When I graduated from college my dad sent me this little pig symbolizing the, ahem, difficulties I had getting through high school and college. He (and I) thought pigs might fly before I actually earned a degree of any kind. He thought it was hilarious and, lucky for him, I inherited his sense of humor. This little guy sits contently in my kitchen.