Alfajores are a sweet treat that has been present since colonial times all over Latin America. Each country has a different way of preparing them, but the concept is the same: two cookies filled with some kind of caramel. In Peru we have two basic kinds of dough (wheat flour or corn starch) and two kinds of filling (dulce de leche or syrup). The recipe featured in this post combines the less common corn starch dough with the traditional manjarblanco (dulce de leche) filling. And by less common I don’t mean it’s not common, just that the other preparation is even more famous.
This recipe has been in my family for many years, being part of my grandmother´s culinary inheritance. Apparently, she used to make them very frequently. Many times I heard about her famous “alfajores de maicena” (corn starch alfajores), but it all seemed like a legend to me, as no one in my family had prepared them for over fifteen years. A few days ago, driven to change this, I got my hands on the recipe -which didn’t specify any quantities- and ventured into trying it.
This kind of alfajores is very frail, so it is important to handle them delicately. You have to be patient and fill them slowly and carefully, one by one, but it is worth it because what you get at the end is amazing. The texture is fine and crumbly, almost powdery, and the flavor is perfect. No other word would describe it fairly. With this recipe you will get 35 small and delicious alfajores. They are a good accompaniment for coffee or tea, great to pass around on a big tray at parties, and a good option for lunchboxes too, or as a tiny dessert that takes away that sweet craving.
- 2 cups corn starch, sifted
- ⅔ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 4 tablespoons sugar
- 4 teaspoons baking powder
- 4 egg yolks
- 2 tablespoons fresh milk (if necessary)
- 1 (14-ounce) can dulce de leche
- Confectioner’s sugar, for dusting
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Beat the eggs with the sugar at medium speed, for 3 minutes; add the butter and continue beating. Stop the mixer.
- Add the corn starch and baking powder in three parts, using a spatula, then knead lightly with your hand until the dough is no longer sticky. If the dough feels dry add the milk.
- On a floured table, roll the dough with a floured rolling pin to form a very thin layer, about a ⅛ inch.
- To make the cookies cut the dough with round cookie cutters, and bake for 8 minutes in ungreased baking sheets. If you don't have cookie cutters, be creative. You can use the top of a glass or cup, which will make slightly bigger alfajores.
- Cool the cookies on racks. When completely cool, fill them with a teaspoon dulce de leche. Place another cookie on top, like a sandwich, and sift the confectioner’s sugar over the alfajores.
- Serve at once with a glass of milk, coffee, tea, or with ice cream!