Alfajores are a beloved Latin American sweet that is treasured everywhere as much for its filling of Dulce de Leche as for the completed sweet cookie itself, which is often encased in chocolate, or sometimes, as in our recipe below, rolled in coconut. There are probably as many recipes for Alfajores as there are houses in Latin America, but the commonalities they share is the baked sweet wafer and the filling of Dulce de Leche. These take a little time to make, but hey, what are we here for? They are a lot of fun to make, and a lot of fun to eat and share with others!
Alfajores de Maicena
• 1 cup butter
• 1/2 cup sugar
• 3 egg yolks
• 1 cup plus 1 Tbsp corn starch
• 3/4 cup flour
• 2 tsp baking powder
• 1/2 tsp baking soda
• 1/4 tsp salt
• dulce de leche (see recipe below)
• dry, unsweetened coconut (or semi-sweet chocolate chips)
Mix together the corn starch, flour, baking powder, soda, and salt, and set aside. In a mixer, cream butter and sugar until fluffy, then add yolks one at a time. Add the dry ingredients and mix just until they are incorporated. Cover the dough and refrigerate for a least two hours.
Roll the dough out to a little less than 1/4 inch think, and cut into 1 or 1 1/2 inch circles. Refrigerate the circles on a baking sheet for 5-10 minutes, then bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes or until they just barely turn golden on the edges.
Let cool on a cooling rack, then match up pairs of cookies that are the same size. Put Dulce de Leche in a frosting tube and press out about a teaspoonful onto the back of a cookies and close with a second cookie. Roll the sides in toasted coconut; or roll the sides in melted chocolate, then roll in toasted coconut. Place on a cooling rack until the chocolate has hardened.
To give as wedding or party favors, place one or two cookies in a cookie paper (like a cupcake paper only smaller), then place in a heart-topped box. Garnish the box with labels and/or tags to commemorate your event. You will still run across these little boxes years later, displayed on a shelf or table, or hidden away with other treasures in drawers or on dressers, long after the goodie inside has disappeared.
Combine the milk, sugar and salt in a crock pot and turn onto low heat. Stir for a few minutes until sugar is dissolved. Stir frequently in the first hour, then every 15 minutes or so when you check the progress. Continue to cook until the mixture is a dark caramel color and has reduced to about 1 or 1 1/2 cups, about 2-4 hours. Pour into a jar and store in the refrigerator until ready to make the Alfajores. Can be kept refrigerated for up to a month.
Dulce de Leche will thicken as it cools, and when cool it can be used as a spread, filling for cookies, dip for fresh apples, etc. When warmed, it can be poured over ice cream or poached pairs or other fruit, or drizzled over baked apples. But of course everyone knows the best way to eat Dulce de Leche is with a spoon right out of the jar.
More homemade gift ideas from Jeanne…
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