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Alfajores

How many of you are familiar with Alfajores? I was oblivious to their existence until about a year ago, when I made, quite possibly, my most amazing cookie discovery to date. At the time, I received a Foodzie tasting box, which is basically a foodie gift basket full of new and fun food items. Inside my box was a package of two Alfajores cookies. They looked innocent enough. They weren’t covered in chocolate, so I didn’t attack them immediately. Finally, later that day or the next (I can’t remember), I opened the package and was prepared to eat what I assumed would be a very average cookie. I couldn’t believe how wrong I was. After two bites, I was on Google trying to find out what these amazing things were! As it turns out, Alfajores are quite popular in Spain and certain areas of Latin America. They are shortbread cookies sandwiched together with dulce de leche, and topped with powdered sugar. Swoon.

I’ve thought about those cookies over and over for the past year, and I finally got around to making them at home. They tasted so utterly amazing that first time, that like many other packaged foods, it seemed impossible to recreate them from scratch. Not only is it totally possible, but it’s ridiculously easy. It also only requires four ingredients. The bonus? Having a jar of dulce de leche leftover. Grab a spoon and pat yourself on the back for cookies well done!

One year ago: Homemade Restaurant Style Salsa
Two years ago: Cinnamon Raisin Walnut Bread
Five years ago: Pepperoni Bread

Alfajores

Yield: About 18 sandwich cookies

Prep Time: 1 hour 30 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour 45 minutes

Ingredients:

4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting work surface
¼ cup + 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1½ cups unsalted butter, chilled and cut into pieces
½ cup water
Dulce de Leche, chilled (see note below)
Powdered sugar, for dusting

Directions:

1. Sift together the flour and powdered sugar. In a food processor, pulse together the flour and sugar mixture with the butter until the mixture resembles coarse meal, about 20 1-second pulses. With the machine running, pour in the water in a slow stream, and process just until the dough comes together, about 20 seconds. Form the dough into two flattened disks and wrap well in plastic. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

3. On a well-floured surface, roll out one disk of dough to just under a ¼-inch in thickness. Using a 2-inch round cookie cutter, cut out rounds from the dough and transfer to the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the other disk of dough. Gather up the scraps from both batches, and reroll and cut. Bake until lightly golden brown, about 15 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through baking. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

4. Spread 1 to 2 teaspoons of dulce de leche on the bottom of half of the cookies. Top with the remaining cookies to make a sandwich. Dust with powdered sugar to finish. Finished cookies should be eaten the same day they are assembled. Unfilled cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.

Note: Dulce de Leche is caramelized sweetened condensed milk and can be purchased in the Hispanic/Mexican section of the grocery store, or you can make your own. To do so, take 2 (14-ounce) cans of sweetened condensed milk and empty them into the top of a double boiler or a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water. Cover with a tight-fitting lid. Cook, stirring every 10 to 15 minutes, until the milk is thick and amber in color, about 5 hours. Remove from the heat , and beat with a wooden spoon to smooth out. Transfer to a clean bowl, and refrigerate for several hours, or up to 3 days.

(Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart's Cookies)

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76 Responses to “Alfajores”

  1. Peggy Clyde on May 3, 2012 at 12:09 am

    These sound yummy. I wonder if they would work by rolling the dough into a long roll, refrigerating it and then slicing the dough instead of rolling out the dough. I do not like to roll out dough for cookies. Thanks.

    Reply

    • Michelle on May 4th, 2012 at 12:01 am

      Hi Peggy, I have not tried doing that, but I’m not sure you could get it thin enough by making a slice and bake type of roll.

      Reply

  2. Marina {YummyMummyKitchen.com} on May 3, 2012 at 12:34 am

    Oh no! I thought I was a cookie expert, but it seems I have failed as I have never heard of Alfajones. Don’t tell anyone, okay? :)
    These look amazing and the world could really use a macaron-alternative sandwich cookie. Yummy!

    Reply

  3. Miriam @ Overtime Cook on May 3, 2012 at 12:57 am

    These cookies have been on my radar for a while, not sure why I never made them. Yours definitely look delicious!

    Reply

  4. CJ at Food Stories on May 3, 2012 at 1:13 am

    Never heard of these before but I am intrigued. Thx.

    Reply

  5. Ashley @ Wishes and Dishes on May 3, 2012 at 1:20 am

    Never heard of these cookies before but they sound like something I’d love. I’m a huge fan of shortbread cookies. These seriously look amazing!

    Reply

  6. j3nn on May 3, 2012 at 3:19 am

    Never heard of them until now! I would have thought they were like a taco, lol. They look incredibly delicious, though.

    Reply

  7. Nanci Morris on May 3, 2012 at 4:18 am

    What am I missing? How do you make the Dulce de Leche and what is it? There are no instructions. :(

    Reply

    • Michelle on May 4th, 2012 at 12:00 am

      Hi Nanci, You can purchase it at the supermarket in the Hispanic/Latin/Mexican section, or you can make your own. I have since added a note to the end of the recipe with instructions on how to make it.

      Reply

  8. Shana McLean on May 3, 2012 at 4:19 am

    No way! I adored these while studying in Spain and traveling in Latin America, but it never dawned on me to look for a recipe. I’m SO excited to try them. Thanks!

    Reply

  9. Liz @ Blog is the New Black on May 3, 2012 at 5:01 am

    These sounds yummy!

    Reply

  10. Jessica on May 3, 2012 at 5:08 am

    These look great (I’m all for easy shortbread and anything caramel-based), but there’s one thing that’s confusing me. I don’t mean to be picky, but you switch between “alfajores” and “alfajones” a number of times. Which is correct? Thanks.

    Reply

    • Michelle on May 3rd, 2012 at 11:59 pm

      Hi Jessica, Sorry about that. They are Alfajores; the others were typos, I have since edited it to be correct. Thanks for the catch!

      Reply

  11. Willie Welford on May 3, 2012 at 5:10 am

    Originally from Spain, it is now very popular in Latin America.
    Tried many in many countries; best in the world (in my experience!) Havanna from Argentina. If you want to go MEGA, look for a recipe for “torta rogel”, an alfajor in steroids!. [Sweet] Life don’t get much better than that !

    Reply

    • Michelle on May 3rd, 2012 at 11:58 pm

      I love mega cookies, so I will definitely check out that recipe! Thanks for the recommendation, Willie!

      Reply

  12. Villy @ For the love of Feeding on May 3, 2012 at 5:14 am

    I love alfajores!! My Argentinean friends were bringing them all the time and I was always picking the chocolate covered ones, but these ones are also delicious!

    Reply

  13. Kiri W. on May 3, 2012 at 6:31 am

    Oh, thes elook wonderful! I can just imagine how they melt on your tongue. Mmm dulce de leche :)

    Reply

  14. Vera on May 3, 2012 at 6:31 am

    I made those for xmas cookies the past 2 years, I roll them in coconut after the dulce de leche oozes out of the sides!

    Reply

    • Michelle on May 3rd, 2012 at 11:58 pm

      Oooh love the roll in coconut! I will try that next time!

      Reply

  15. The Kitchen Witch on May 3, 2012 at 6:59 am

    They look great! Thanks for sharing : ) I have never heard of them and love discovering new treats!

    Reply

  16. Caro on May 3, 2012 at 7:01 am

    Hi, I’m from Uruguay and here alfajores are VERY common.
    We have thousands of brands and many different kinds.
    You should search them all! Chocolate, maicena, coconut… alll filled with dulce de leche (the thicker, the better).
    For us, dulce de leche is kind of what peanut butter is for you. We use it in everything
    Love the site! U’re an amazing chef!!
    Byee

    Reply

  17. Lori on May 3, 2012 at 7:08 am

    Do you have a recipe for the Dulce de Leche or can you buy it in the Spanish/Latin section of the supermarket. Thanks for posting…looks irrestible!

    Reply

    • Melissa @ Treats With a Twist on May 3rd, 2012 at 7:44 am

      You make dulce de leche from sweetened condensed milk, actually. You can: stick cans of sweetened condensed milk in a slow cooker filled with water for 5 or so hours, or you can use the same method in a dutch oven filled with water in your oven or stove top (lid on), or you can open the cans and pour them into a very clean skillet and slowly caramelize the condensed milk while stirring on the stove top. Hope this helps!

      Reply

    • Michelle on May 3rd, 2012 at 11:57 pm

      Hi Lori, You can buy it in the supermarket, but I also updated the recipe with a note at the end about how to make your own.

      Reply

    • D on May 7th, 2012 at 8:41 pm

      Actually, I’m from Costa Rica, and we’ve always basically “boiled the can” for a few hours. Just stick it in there for a while, to make sure it’s cooked. Then wait for it to cool off a bit and open the can :)

      Reply

      • bini on April 4th, 2013 at 11:14 am

        how long is “a few hours”? please?

        Reply

  18. Katrina on May 3, 2012 at 7:10 am

    These look and sound so delicious! Yum!

    Reply

  19. Ellen @ The Baking Bluenoser on May 3, 2012 at 7:18 am

    Hahah I did the exact same thing as you. I looked at this recipe and saw they weren’t covered in chocolate so I almost passed it by, but I didn’t know what Alfajores were so I figured I’d read a little about them. As soon as I heard what they actually ARE, I immediately bookmarked the recipe. Thanks for sharing!!

    Reply

  20. Jennifer on May 3, 2012 at 7:22 am

    I’ve never had these, but I do love shortbread. Sounds yummy!

    Reply

  21. Melissa @ Treats With a Twist on May 3, 2012 at 7:41 am

    Yes! A friend of mine studied in Argentina for 6 months a few years ago and brought me back a jar of dulce de leche and told me about those cookies! Then we went on a dulce de leche spree, making a bunch of it and putting it on everything…I still dream about tasting these cookies though, so I’m so glad you did this!

    Reply

  22. Paula on May 3, 2012 at 9:10 am

    I’ve never heard of Alfajores but I do love shortbread and having them sandwiched between Dulce de Leche, what’s not to love?!

    Reply

  23. Jill on May 3, 2012 at 9:16 am

    Never heard of these before, but they look and sound amazing!

    Reply

  24. Jennifer @ Peanut Butter and Pepper on May 3, 2012 at 9:49 am

    I never heard of these cookies, but now I want one, no I want two or three. They look so yummy!!

    Reply

  25. Hannah on May 3, 2012 at 9:51 am

    Alfajores are very popular in Peru where I’ve been living and baking for the past 5 years. my absolute favorite are “alfajores de maicena” in which part of the flour is substituted with cornstarch for an even more melt-in-your-mouth texture. I also recommend accidentally-on-purpose using half granulated sugar and half powdered sugar for a pleasing crunch in th midst of all that powdery heaven!

    Reply

  26. Erin on May 3, 2012 at 10:05 am

    I was unfamiliar with these until the other day when a Peruvian coworker brought them in. He now is requesting I make them!

    Reply

  27. Ally on May 3, 2012 at 12:04 pm

    These are some perfect looking cookies! Thanks for sharing so much yumminess!
    xo
    http://allykayler.blogspot.co.uk/

    Reply

  28. Eliana on May 3, 2012 at 12:19 pm

    YAY! I’ve grown up with alfajores! My parents were both born in South America, so we are very familiar with these little bites of heavenly deliciousness. In Bolivia, they make the shortbread cookie with a mixture of corn starch and flour – that’s what give the cookie a fall-apart texture. We also roll them in coconut flakes after we put the dulce-de-leche filling in them. They are quite good that way!

    Reply

    • Michelle on May 3rd, 2012 at 11:56 pm

      Hi Eliana, I will definitely try the cornstarch – the ones I ate did just crumble into my mouth. Love these things!

      Reply

  29. Nancy @ CouponClippingCook on May 3, 2012 at 1:29 pm

    So glad you posted this recipe. A friend of mine from Peru who lives in the US has shared these delicious cookies with me before. I for sure can’t stop at just one.

    Reply

  30. Andrea on May 3, 2012 at 3:43 pm

    Hi. I’m from Brazil (I live in the south, very close to Argentina) where alfajores are very popular. A very famous brand is Havanna (http://www.havanna.com.ar/). And they are very popular here as well. We even have Havanna’s stores in our malls. Andrea

    Reply

  31. carolina on May 3, 2012 at 4:18 pm

    hiii, I am from South America, from Chile, and Alfajores are everywhere here. they are better if you cover them with chocolate!! could be white chocolate as well!!
    For the dulce de leche, we don’t open the can of condensed milk to cook it, we just put the cans (closed) inside a pan over heat with boiling water for about 5 hours.
    I love your blog!

    Reply

  32. Catalina @ Cake with Love on May 3, 2012 at 4:21 pm

    I have neved had any in my life, but seeing all that Dulce de Leche makes me want to run into the kitchen and start baking some right now!!

    Reply

  33. Linda on May 3, 2012 at 7:12 pm

    WOW! I’m bookmarking this one…sounds right up my alley. Never heard of them but I’m guessing your homemade version had to be better than the packaged ones!

    Reply

  34. Lindsay @ The Live-In Kitchen on May 3, 2012 at 8:48 pm

    Looks delicious and so easy!

    Reply

  35. Katie on May 3, 2012 at 11:10 pm

    Alfajores sound incredible. I’ve never heard of them before. I also would have set them aside for a few days and eaten all the chocolate covered treats first!

    Reply

  36. peggy on May 3, 2012 at 11:40 pm

    Anything with dulce de leche in it is a winner in my book! These alfajores look amazing =)

    Reply

  37. Sarah on May 4, 2012 at 1:55 am

    I am studying abroad in Argentina right now, and alfajores are everywhere! Pretty sure i have one just about every day… I’m glad i have a recipe to make them when i return!

    Reply

  38. Crystal @ A Lovin' Forkful on May 4, 2012 at 2:11 am

    This is really my ideal kind of cookie. These are beautiful!

    Reply

  39. Debra Kapellakis on May 4, 2012 at 10:44 am

    Shortbread cookies are ones that I cannot find any self control over and anything with a carmel flavor uh oh…hello sugar overdose!!!

    Reply

  40. Beth Cook on May 4, 2012 at 10:45 am

    These look great! How cool is it, that you get so many responses from all over the world! Amazing!! I love your blog!

    Reply

  41. Tracey on May 4, 2012 at 2:44 pm

    Oooh, I discovered these recently too and fell in love! Then again, what’s not to love about shortbread and dulce de leche? Match made in heaven!

    Reply

  42. katie on May 4, 2012 at 3:04 pm

    Oh my deliciousness! We made these last year for my son’s Spanish project – and let me just say that they were the most amazing cookie (maybe because I LOVE dulce de leche). My son and his friends still ask if I can make these. YUM!

    Reply

  43. Christine on May 4, 2012 at 6:12 pm

    I just made these, thanks to your recipe! They were delicious!! I didn’t have dulce de leche on hand and the grocery store closest to me doesn’t carry it, so I made it with the condensed milk, following your instructions above. I also don’t have a food processor big enough for this task so I used a pastry blender and my biceps. They still turned out great! Thanks for yet another delicious recipe!!!

    Reply

  44. Pilar on May 4, 2012 at 10:35 pm

    Hi,
    I’m from Chile and I grow up eating this kind of alfajores, but half all purpose flour and half cornstarch, they are out of this world delicious. This one is my family recipe:
    http://recipesfromsouthamerica.blogspot.com/2011/05/cornstarch-sandwich-cookies-filled-with.html
    The other alfajores are the more common in Argentina, like the Havanas, is a different dough and usually covered in chocolate. Like this recipe.
    http://recipesfromsouthamerica.blogspot.com/2011/06/alfajor-cake-argentinian-style.html
    Here in Houston they sell alfajores de maicena (cornstarch) at Central Market.

    Reply

  45. Lisa on May 6, 2012 at 5:00 pm

    I am making them tonight.. mmmm I have seen them rolled in coconut (just the edges) and i have seen them dipped in chocolate.. hmmm (half dipped in choc. will look pretty.. black and white cookie.. with Dulce de leche in it..)

    Reply

  46. Laura on May 7, 2012 at 1:54 am

    Alfajores are one of my favorites. My sister used to buy them from a store here in the SF Bay Area, but got homesick for them when she went to grad school on the east coast. I made a whole batch and sent them to her good ol’ USPS. The thank you phone call I got was terrific! ;-)

    Reply

  47. CripyBits&BurntEnds on May 7, 2012 at 11:33 am

    I made them this weekend. They turned out perfect. For anyone wondering what they are like, they are sand cookies. They are crumbly and buttery and delicous. I didn’t have sweetened condensed milk so I made my own carmel and it worked out great. Will post soon.

    Reply

  48. RisaG on May 7, 2012 at 12:39 pm

    Boy do they look good. I have never heard of them but I think I will make them when I get a jar of the magical dulce.

    Reply

  49. Juliana on May 7, 2012 at 3:54 pm

    I absolutely LOVE alfajores! Not sure if it’s just a Northern California thing, but I get my alfajores fix from Whole Foods. They carry locally made alfajores in the bakery section that have thick almost caramel like dulce du leche and crumbly, powdery shortbread. So good!

    Reply

  50. Lauren on May 9, 2012 at 2:23 pm

    I made these on Saturday and they turned out great! The dulce de leche is excellent and definitely necessary since the butter cookies are not very sugary. Thanks for an excellent recipe!

    Reply

  51. Dina on May 11, 2012 at 10:55 am

    they look so good!

    Reply

  52. Lucila on May 22, 2012 at 11:05 am

    Those alfajores are from Argentina. The ones from Spain have the same name, but they are something completely different.

    In the spanish version of wikipedia, you can see the difference (it’s in spanish but it has pictures):

    http://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alfajor_%28Espa%C3%B1a%29
    http://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alfajor_%28Latinoam%C3%A9rica%29

    Reply

  53. spatenau on May 29, 2012 at 1:02 pm

    The fist time I made alfajores I ran into the problem that is illustrated in the photo here–dulce de leche that was too runny! The tops of the cookies slid right off when the dulce de leche started oozing, which to me was very disappointing. I realized that I needed to find a thicker dulce de leche to avoid this disaster. The thickest seems to be Nestle La Lechera dulce de leche in a can, which is made in Chile. Don’t let the common brand name scare you. This stuff is delicious. I could eat the whole can with a spoon. You can find it a Mexican markets.

    Reply

  54. Victoria on June 10, 2012 at 12:14 pm

    Hello! I just made your cookies last night; they turned out fabulous!
    Although, I did get twice the amount of cookies listed (and I cut them 2″ and rolled to 1/4″), which really isn’t a problem

    Reply

  55. Theresa on July 9, 2012 at 11:05 am

    Hello–just returned yesterday from a 9-day vacation in Peru–Hoteles Royal Inca in Cusco served these from their front reception desk. They were a perfect 1″ size of heaven. I asked what they were and looked up a recipe as soon as I got home for the best Peruvian taste souvenir. Peruvian friends served them for a dinner when in Lima–they were a larger 3″ size, but I prefer the smaller. We are planning a potluck with the same group that travelled in Peru–I will be making these for sure. Thanks for recipe, Peru was unbelievable!

    Reply

  56. Ellie@Fit for the Soul on September 4, 2012 at 3:06 pm

    omgness I looooooooooooooove alfajores and grew up eating them!!! I was born and raised in Argentina so this was always a staple “food group” for me, haha! I normally make them the cornstarch+flour mixture way, but never made it with just flour. Looks delicious!

    Reply

  57. Andrea on December 4, 2012 at 10:52 pm

    Hi! Is there a way to achieve the same consistency of dough without using a food processor?

    Reply

    • Michelle on December 4th, 2012 at 11:48 pm

      Hi Andrea, Yes, you could use the same process you would use for making pie crust by hand – whisk together the dry ingredients, cut in the butter with a pastry blender, then use a spatula or wooden spoon to mix in the wet. Enjoy!

      Reply

  58. Emily on December 14, 2012 at 2:52 pm

    I had these for the first time at a cafe in Costa Rica, and I too, thought they looked mediocre at best. Then I had my first bite and was instantly OBSESSED! So excited to try to make them at home. Fingers crossed I do them justice. Thank you for finding and posting a recipe!

    Reply

  59. Astrid on February 6, 2013 at 12:37 am

    My family is from Peru and I’ve eaten and baked alfajores all my life. They are not alfajores if you do not add some anise and/or clove to the dulce de leche. Just a teaspoon of ground clove makes a big difference. Some South American bakers add anise to the shortbread. Also, make the cookies thinner than in the pic. It is very difficult to eat if they’re too thick; they are very crumbly and messy as it is!

    Reply

  60. Nicole on February 12, 2013 at 3:20 pm

    I just got back from a trip to Peru, where one of our hotels had these at their breakfast buffet. I had the same thought (not chocolate), but I figured how could you go wrong with cookies at breakfast. Needless to say, after tasting them, I went back for seconds!! At the airport, I used up the last of my Peruvian money on a box of them to bring home. I was thinking “I bet the Brown-Eyed Baker ahs a recipe for these,” and sure enough! Looking forward to trying out your recipe. Interesting comments from Astrid above. A little clove couldn’t hurt!

    Reply

  61. paula on October 30, 2013 at 1:06 pm

    I love alfajores!!! i was born and grew up in Argentina, where alfajores are an everyday snack! i usually make them with cornstarch, which makes the dough softer, also put dulce de leche around the cookie an put shredded coconut!

    Reply

  62. Melina on December 2, 2013 at 7:18 pm

    Alfajores are a great treat from Peru. I now make it for my kids on special occasions.

    Reply

  63. Isabella on January 11, 2014 at 4:57 pm

    Thank you so much for this recipe!! I had these at a party my peruvian friend hosted many many years ago and I’ve wondered what they’re called ever since. And now I just happen to stumble across them while browsing your website for the first time!

    Reply

  64. Michaela Diamond on April 21, 2014 at 10:52 pm

    Alfajores are amazing! I lived in Chile for 5 months and this was one of my favorite Chilean foods. There are actually many different variations of alfajores – it’s kind of a catch-all phrase for sandwich cake/cookie treats :) A really tasty twist on this variation is to roll the edges in flaked coconut

    Reply

  65. Rosemary S on May 1, 2014 at 5:07 pm

    Michelle yum yum I forgotten alfajores I grew up with them in uruguay mum made so did I since been in the land down under (australia) made it once we used to roll in dulce de leche the coconut but the batch I made didn’t check coconut it was off never made them again been 28 years thanks will get my act together and make them your recipes are great and dulce de leche all my family made it it a long process I use the chocolate dulce de leche for some desserts. Thanks again for your website

    Reply

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