If you never tried alfajores before, these will blow your recipe file. Why? Because they are made with walnut cookies and filled with dulce de leche! A great combination of flavors. Soft and sweet, they are fantastic and loved by everyone.
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If you never tried alfajores, you should as fast as you can. Seriously. You won't believe what a spoonful of dulce de leche can do to a cookie! Mind-blowing.
You should start with the best traditional alfajores (made with cornstarch cookies) and then continue with these. Or the other way around. It doesn't matter.
I hail from Argentina, where dulce de leche was first invented and where the consumption of alfajores is off the charts. And I mean that literally: 6M (that's six million!) alfajores are eaten every single day here! Every day.
Anyway, there is such an immense variety of alfajores in this country I probably don't know half of them.
What are alfajores?
An alfajor (singular) is a sandwich made of two dough discs with a filling in between.
They are very popular in South America, especially Argentina, Perú, and Uruguay.
The most traditional ones are two: one made with cornstarch shortbread cookies with coconut on the sides, and the other made with vanilla dough and covered with dark chocolate. Both are filled with dulce de leche, of course.
How to make walnut alfajores
So, for the sake of this post, let's stay close to our alfajores here, a recipe that uses the much-loved chocolate chip cookie as a base for the nut cookies, without the chips.
I added only walnuts to the cookie dough, formed it into cylinders, wrapped them, and let them park in the fridge for two days before baking them.
The flavor is amazing. The nuts toast and the cookie dough have that caramel undertone we all love.
- Make walnut cookie dough.
- Freeze in a cylinder. These favors a rounder cookie, but you can make them the way you usually make chocolate chip cookies.
- Cut the cookies half an inch and arrange them on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper (image above).
- Bake them (image below). Let cool completely.
- Fill them with dulce de leche (more info below).
- Eat them and wait to feel amazed at the flavor!
So what you see as an innocent walnut cookie turns into this mind-blowing alfajor (or sandwich cookie) that will completely change you. Trust me.
Starting to fill everything with dulce de leche is a one-way trip.
What is dulce de leche?
Dulce de leche is a sweet jam made with milk, sugar, and baking soda, the latter being accountable for its dark color.
It takes a few hours to make, and there are as many tips and tricks as grandmothers in this country. Each with its recipe.
We have an abundance of brands and styles, pretty much like peanut butter in the US. So we use it a lot, as you might imagine.
The flavor is very sweet, similar to caramel, but not quite.
It does have a milk undertone, something that caramel lacks, and some might say it’s not as sophisticated, and they might be right.
I’m a raving fan, so my opinion is biased.
You can make your own dulce de leche, or easily buy it online.
Commercial dulce de leche: the best one available to use for fillings right now is Vacalin dulce de leche repostero, which is the one we use here, so I recommend it. Others that are usually available for the regular type are Cachafaz Dulce de Leche, Havanna Argentina Dulce de Leche sauce, and DDL&Co. premium dulce de leche.
There are two ways of sandwiching the dulce de leche filling:
- Spoon: this is my favorite way because it means taking a tablespoon of dulce de leche and arranging it in the middle of one cookie. When you press down with the second one, it flattens out a bit, and you get your alfajor. The result is rustic and not picture-perfect. Which is fine since these are meant to be eaten at home.
- Piping bag: you can pipe the dulce de leche. This is a great way of filling these alfajores if you sell them or want to give them out as gifts. It is more time and labor-intensive, though not complicated.
- Organization: read the recipe first and ensure you have ingredients at the right temperatures, equipment needed, and enough workspace. This will make the process so much easier!
- Baking time: keep in mind that all ovens and pans are different, even if they look the same or very similar. The baking time in my recipes is as accurate as it can be, but it might take you more or less time. Use a thermometer inside the oven (like the OXO oven thermometer) to check that the temperature is right. I recommend you keep track of how your oven works and what tiny details you might need to adjust.
- Cookies: they are better if baked barely soft. Not underbaked. But a softer cookie is better because when you bite the alfajor, the cookies are not hard, and the dulce de leche doesn't ooze out before you can take a bite.
- Dulce de leche: there are two common types of dulce de leche, regular and pastry. if using it as a filling, use the latter, which is thicker. I always use dulce de leche repostero Vacalin, which you can buy online.
- Keeping: they can be kept in tins or airtight containers, but if they are already filled, they will soften as the days go by. I find this a plus, but if you don't, you can keep the cookies alone in a tin and fill them when ready to eat.
Related recipes you might like:
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- ½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
- ¾ cup light brown sugar
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 1 egg, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 ½ cups + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup walnuts, chopped
- Dulce de leche, for filling (see Notes below)
- Preheat oven to 350°F /180°C.
- Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
- In a large bowl beat soft butter with both sugars.
- Add egg and vanilla and mix very well.
- Add sifted dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt) in 2 additions and mix.
- Add nuts and mix well.
- Have prepared a piece of plastic wrap, put half of the batter along the long side of the plastic.
- Taking one long side, wrap it over the cookie dough and roll the plastic to cover tightly and produce a cylinder.
- Prick with a fork and let the trapped air out. That way the plastic will stick to the dough.
- Roll lightly to make the cylinder as round as possible.
- Freeze it for several hours or up to a month.
- When you’re ready to bake, preheat oven to 350°F /180°C.
- Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
- Take out cookie cylinders from the freezer and wait 5-10 minutes until they can be cut with a sharp kitchen knife.
- They don’t have to be soft or they will loose the shape.
- Cut rounds about ½ inch thick and place on prepared cookie sheets.
- Bake for 10-12 minutes, until golden but barely soft.
- Let cool completely on wire rack and fill.
- Take heaped spoonfuls of dulce de leche and place on flat side of one cookie.
- Cover with anothe cookie and press lightly to spread the dulce de leche.
- They will become softer the next day.
- Cookies: they are better if baked barely soft. When you bite the alfajor and the cookies are not hard, the dulce de leche won't ooze out.
Dulce de leche: there are two common types of dulce de leche, regular and pastry. The latter is better for filling alfajores because it holds better, it's thicker. It should have the word 'repostero'. The best one available to use for fillings right now is Vacalin dulce de leche repostero, which is the one we use here, so I recommend it.
Keeping: they can be kept in tins or airtight containers, but if they are already filled, they will soften as the days go by. I find this to be a plus, but if you don't, you can keep the cookies alone in a tin and fill them when ready to eat.
- Filling the cookies: there are two ways of sandwiching the dulce de leche filling:
Spoon: this is my favorite way because it means taking a tablespoon of dulce de leche and arranging it in the middle of one cookie. When you press down with the second one it flattens out a bit and you get your alfajor. The result is rustic and not picture-perfect, which is fine since these are meant to be eaten at home.
Piping bag: you can pipe the dulce de leche. This is a great way of filling these alfajores if you sell them or want to give them out as gifts. It is more time and labor-intensive, though not complicated.
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 12 minutes
- Category: Cookies
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: International
- Serving Size: 1/15
- Calories: 238
- Sugar: 17 g
- Sodium: 144.2 mg
- Fat: 12.7 g
- Carbohydrates: 28.3 g
- Fiber: 0.9 g
- Protein: 3.9 g
- Cholesterol: 32.3 mg
Keywords: walnut alfajores