This spring, we went to Patagonia to celebrate our thirty-fifth anniversary. While we were there, we discovered alfajores* (all-fah-HOR-es.) This week I tried for the first time to make them and they turned out really fun. The cookies are very easy to make and, if you buy the dulce de leche rather than make it, as I did, and you skip dipping them in milk chocolate, as I did, they are really easy to make and very tasty.
All over the Internet
1 cup cornstarch
¾ cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
⅓ cup granulated sugar
2 large egg yolks
1 tablespoon pisco or brandy** SEE NOTES
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup dulce de leche, at room temperature
Powdered sugar, for dusting
1. Place cornstarch, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. Whisk briefly to combine. Set aside.
2. Place butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed, stopping the mixer to scrape down the sides of the bowl once with a rubber spatula, until the mixture is light in color and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add egg yolks, pisco or brandy, and vanilla. Mix until incorporated, about 30 seconds. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl. On low speed, gradually add the reserved flour mixture and mix until just incorporated with no visible white pockets, about 30 seconds.
3. Turn dough out onto a piece of plastic wrap. Shape it into a smooth disk. Wrap it tightly. Place in refrigerator until firm, at least 1 hour.
4. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 350°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
5. Remove dough from the refrigerator. Unwrap it. Place it on a lightly floured work surface. Lightly flour the top of the dough. Roll to 1/4-inch thickness (the dough will crack but can be easily patched back together). Stamp out 24 rounds using a plain or fluted 2-inch round cutter, rerolling the dough as necessary until all of it is gone.
6. Place cookies on prepared baking sheets, at least ½ inch apart. Bake 1 sheet at a time until the cookies are firm and pale golden on the bottom, about 12 to 14 minutes. (The cookies will remain pale on top.) Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
This is where I dipped them in tempered milk chocolate. Some I dipped the bottom cookie and sprinkled the top with powdered sugar, others I dipped both cookies.
7. Flip half of the cookies upside down and gently spread about 2 teaspoons of the dulce de leche on each. Place a second cookie on top and gently press to create a sandwich. Dust generously with powdered sugar before serving.
* Alfajores are cookies we ate in Chile. I understand they are common in other South American countries as well. The cookies are basically short bread cookies made softer and crumblier by adding corn starch. They are usually sandwiches filled with dulce de leche, which is sweetened, condensed milk cooked until it thickens and turns a rich, dark brown color. You can buy it or, if you want to make your own, you can find recipes on line. In fact, I saw one posting entitled, “8 Ways to Make Dulce de Leche.”
** I had no pisco or brandy so I just left this out. When in Chile, we ate one type of alfajor that tasted like booze and we didn’t enjoy it as much as we did the others, so I don’t think we missed anything by leaving it out.