Alfajores are an easy cookie recipe which is very popular in South America, especially in Argentina and Peru. These elegant tiny cookies are made with a shortbread-style dough, filled with dulce de leche and then rolled in shredded coconut. They are so soft they melt in your mouth, perfectly combining the delicacy of the cookie with the caramel-like texture of the creamy dulce de leche.
The recipe doesn't call for fancy ingredients to make alfajores. For making the cookie discs need some pantry ingredients like flour, cornstarch, sugar, yolk and vanilla extract. Because it is so popular, there are several versions of this recipe. A traditional alfajor is round, but you can cut your cookie shapes into anything you like.
Alfajores are a classic, decadent recipe from South America. These sandwich shortbread cookies are filled with dulce de leche and then rolled in shredded coconut for a special treat that melts in your mouth.
Because of their sandwiched structure, it is thought that the term "alfajor" comes from the Arabic ah-hasu which means "filled". In fact, they have origins in Spain and the Middle East, when the Moors brought the recipe in the Iberian Peninsula during their rule.
To prevent the dough from becoming dry, add cold water or milk, just a little at a time.
Don't overmix the dough for a long time, otherwise the cookies can turn out tough.
You can make the dough ahead, then bake and fill the cookies when you need them.
You can store alfajores in an airtight container at room temperature for about a week.
You can also freeze these sandwich cookies for up to 2 months, simply thaw overnight in the fridge.
Combine the flour, cornstarch and baking powder together in a bowl with a pinch of salt.
Using a food mixer or an electric whisk, in another bowl whisk the butter together with the sugar and lemon zest until very pale.
Add the egg yolks, Cognac and vanilla extract.
Beat in the dry ingredients until you have smooth dough. If the dough is quite dry and breaks easily, add a little water to it until it is more pliable. Overall, play with the dough as little as possible. Wrap the dough in clingfilm and chill for a minimum of 1 hour.
Line two large baking trays with baking parchment. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to the thickness of a pound coin then cut out 60 biscuits with a 5cm cutter. Place the biscuits back in the fridge for 20 minutes to firm up.
Heat the oven to 350F/160C fan/gas 4. Bake the biscuits for 8 mins until just set. You want the biscuits to stay pale with a crumbly texture, so keep an eye on them to ensure they don’t burn. Remove from oven and cool on the tray, then transfer to a wire rack.
Leave to cool completely before adding a tablespoon of dulce de leche.
Top with another cookie. Be careful not to put too much caramel on, as the lid will squash it down when you put it on top.
Once all the biscuits are sandwiched together roll in shredded coconut.
If you don't want to make a mess with the caramel, use a piping bag and pipe circular blobs onto the base biscuits.