South American Sandwich Cookies (Alfajores)
Alfajores are a favorite treat of sweet manjar or dulce de leche (caramelized milk) sandwiched between buttery shortbread cookies. These originated in Andalucia, Spain during the Moorish Conquest of the Iberian Peninsula, and have many cousins in Latin America, especially Uruguay, Ecuador, Peru and Argentina. The rich buttery dough varies from country to country, made with just all-purpose flour, a mixture of flour and corn starch or yucca flour. Roll them in coconut, nuts or cocoa for an afternoon tea, special dessert or anytime snack. Be prepared to spend some time in the kitchen making this sweet treat you will love!
15 mins. to Prepare
130 mins. Cooking Time
30 mins. Standing Time cooling
175 mins. Total
Servings: 17 cookies
FOR CARAMELIZED MILK: (We do not recommend heating milk in the can.)
STOVETOP: Pour 1 can (14 oz.) CARNATION Sweetened Condensed Milk into top of double-boiler set over water or in a large metal bowl set over a saucepan of water.
ADD lime peel and cinnamon stick.
BRING water to a boil. Reduce heat to low. Cook, stirring occasionally for 2 hours, or until thick and caramel colored. (Some additional water will be needed for bottom pan of double boiler).
REMOVE from heat; remove lime peel and cinnamon stick.
SIFT cornstarch, flour and baking powder together into medium bowl.
BEAT butter and sugar in a medium mixing bowl on medium speed until creamy. Add yolks; mix well. Add lemon zest and brandy.
WITH wooden spoon, mix cornstarch mixture into butter mixture to make a soft dough. If it is too soft (should not be runny), add some additional flour.
WITH floured hands, form dough into a ball. Cover with plastic wrap; refrigerate for 30 minutes.
PREHEAT oven to 350º F. Grease large baking sheets.
ROLL dough on lightly floured surface to 1/8-inch thickness. Cut dough into at least 34, 2-inch circles. Some rerolling will be necessary.
PLACE circles on prepared baking sheets.
BAKE for 10 minutes or until set. They should not brown. Remove to wire racks to cool completely.
SPREAD about 2 teaspoons Caramelized Milk to flat side of half the cookies.
TOP with remaining cookies to form sandwiches. If desired, allow some of the Caramelized Milk filling to squeeze from the sides or spread more around the sides to roll in coconut, nuts or cocoa.
Sprinkle tops and bottoms with sifted powdered sugar. These cookies will keep in the refrigerator for several days or up to 3 months in the freezer.
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These were simply delicious! I used Nestle Dulce de Leche to cut down on the prep time. I made them for my Latin American dinner theme and they were a big hit!
I did the recipe on two occasions. Second time I did not add lime or the cinnamon stick to the filling and liked it much better. If you are lucky, you can also find the filling already made in stores that carry Latin products. Just ask for ‘Dulce de Leche’.