Easy recipe for homemade alfajores or shortbread sandwich cookies filled with dulce de leche. These traditional Latin American cookies are made with a cornstarch shortbread style dough, filled with caramel or dulce de leche, and then decorate with dried coconut or powdered sugar. This recipe was originally shared by our contributor Jani Díaz.
Alfajores are a popular sweet treat in many Latin American countries, including Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Venezuela, Paraguay, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, among others. These delicious melt in your mouth sandwich cookies, are made using a mix of wheat flour and cornstarch. They have a filling of milk caramel or dulce de leche, also known as manjar de leche, manjar blanco, arequipe, or cajeta.Jump to Recipe
The preparation varies from one country to another. Some variations include sprinkling powdered sugar over the finished cookies, while others only use dry coconut as the final decoration. Some use both. There are also chocolate covered variations, and some also use fruit jam or chocolate as the filing.
Alfajores are relatively easy to prepare, they just require a small amount of patience, but the final result is worth it. First the cookies must be made, which have a light and airy texture due to the combination of butter, powdered sugar, flour, cornstarch, and baking powder. Once baked, they are filled with caramel and decorated with coconut.
The most common filling for alfajores is dulce de leche, although some alternatives include using guava jam or blackberry jam. My son also loves them filled with Nutella.
Alfajores: Dulce de leche sandwich cookies
For the cornstarch shortbread cookies:
- 1¼ cup all-purpose flour 1¼cups flour = 150 grams
- 1¼ cup cornstarch 1¼ cups cornstarch = 160 grams
- ½ cup butter room temperature, ½ cup of butter = 113 grams
- 1 teaspoon of baking powder
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 tablespoon lemon or lime zest
- 3 tablespoons milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla optional
- ½ cup powdered or icing sugar sifted, ½ cup powdered sugar = 60 grams
For the filling and decoration:
- ¾ cup dulce de leche
- ½ cup grated dry coconut
- Powdered or icing sugar to taste
- Sift the all-purpose flour, cornstarch, and baking powder. Stir all the ingredients very well and add the lemon zest.
- Use an electric hand mixer to mix the butter with the powdered sugar (previously sifted) until you get a creamy mixture.
- Add the milk and egg yolks, continue mixing until all the ingredients are well combined.
- Add the flour mixture in batches and mix well in between adding each batch of flour. The final dough should be smooth and not sticky. If it’s still sticky you can add an additional handful of flour.
- Divide the dough into two equal parts and make two balls of dough. Then gently squash each ball into a thick disk shape. Cover them with plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour.
- Preheat the oven to 375F (200 ° C).
- Remove the dough from the fridge and place it on a lightly floured surface. Use a rolling pin to flatten and extend the dough until you have a thin layer. The maximum thickness of the layer should be about five millimeters (less than ¼ inch).
- Use a round cookie cutter mold to cut as many circles as you can. I used a 2 in (5 cm) round mold. You can make them smaller or larger, just adjust the baking time accordingly.
- Put the cookies on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, leave at least two centimeters or ¾ inch of space between each cookie to keep them from sticking together.
- Bake the cookies for about 12-15 minutes or until they are lightly golden. Remove the cookies from the oven and let them cool down completely.
- Take a cooled down cookie and place a teaspoon of dulce de leche on its inner surface (the part that was stuck to the baking sheet), spread it well to the edges of the cookie and then gently stick another cookie (baking side on the caramel) on top to form a cookie sandwich.
- Place the grated dry coconut on a flat plate and roll each stuffed cookie in the coconut mix until it sticks to the dulce de leche filling, giving it the characteristic look of the alfajor cookie. You can also dust the cookies with powdered sugar.
- You can keep the alfajores or dulce de leche cookies refrigerated for a week.