Alfajores are arguably the most famous Argentinean dessert, sold worldwide and prepared in most countries in Latin America. The dulce de leche filling is also made throughout the continent, sometimes under different names, such as arequipe and manjar blanco, and varying in consistency from light to rich and heavy. Alfajores can be dipped in melted white or dark chocolate, or dusted with ground peanuts or flaked coconut. Another common variation is to dust the tops with a light layer of confectioners’ sugar, but serving them plain allows the flavor of the dulce de leche to shine.
- 2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 12 Tbs. (1 1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces
- 4 Tbs. confectioners’ sugar
- 2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup purchased dulce de leche
Preheat an oven to 325°F. Line 2 baking sheets with aluminum foil or waxed paper.
In a food processor, combine the flour and salt and pulse to blend, about 5 seconds. Add the butter, confectioners’ sugar and vanilla and pulse until the dough forms a ball and pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and pat into a disk.
Using a floured rolling pin, roll out the dough to 1/8-inch thickness.
Using a 2 1/2-inch cookie cutter, cut out 24 cookies. Briefly knead the dough scraps together just until smooth, roll out the dough and cut out additional rounds. If the dough becomes too soft to handle, place it in the freezer for 2 to 3 minutes, then finish rolling and cutting.
Transfer the cookies to the prepared baking sheets. Bake until the cookies are dry to the touch (they should stay moist), 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer the cookies to wire racks and let cool completely.
Spread 1 Tbs. of the dulce de leche on the bottom, or flat side, of half the cookies. Place a second cookie, flat side down, on top of the filling.
Serve immediately or embellish, if desired (see note above). Store the cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days. Makes 12 cookies.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Latin Cooking, by Patricia McCausland-Gallo, Deborah Schneider & Beverly Cox (Oxmoor House, 2010).