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Several stacked alfajores on grey wire rack.

Alfajores Recipe

Alfajores are classic dulce de leche sandwich cookies from South America. Two soft, cornstarch rounds are filled with this gooey caramel-like spread and rolled in coconut. They're sweet with a melt-in-your-mouth quality. This is the best alfajores recipe from Argentina, an easy and authentic family recipe we've been making for decades. Also, check out our shortbread-style alfajores.

  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: about 50 small rounds

Ingredients

Units
  • 11 tablespoons (150g) of unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup (200g) regular white sugar (not powdered sugar)
  • 2 egg yolks, at room temperature
  • 1 egg, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon cognac (or brandy or whiskey)
  • 1 cup (140g) all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups (250g) cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • A few drops of vanilla extract
  • Zest of 1/3 lemon
  • 1 cup of Dulce de leche (it should be the thick type or 'repostero') See Notes below
  • Unsweetened shredded coconut, for garnish (optional)

Instructions

  1. Mix butter and sugar in a large bowl, until very creamy, using a spatula or handheld mixer, or a wooden spoon.
  2. Add egg yolks and whole egg and mix well to incorporate.
  3. Add cognac, vanilla, and lemon zest. Mix well.
  4. Add the sifted flour, baking powder, salt, and cornstarch gradually, mixing very well until no streaks of dry ingredients remain. The final dough will be very soft and silky but not sticky.
  5. Pat it into a disc, wrap the dough in plastic wrap or freezer sheets, and let it rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes, like any sweet dough. At this point, it can be refrigerated for 3 days or frozen for a month, always well wrapped to prevent dryness.
  6. Preheat oven to 170ºC / 325ºF.
  7. On a floured surface, roll dough to ½ cm thick (about ¼ inch).
  8. Using a round cookie cutter, cut circles and place them on a buttered cookie tray or use a Silpat. In my experience, they tend to stick when using parchment paper, but then, all papers are different depending on where you live. Thickness and size are totally up to you; I suggest you try different combinations and see which one works best for your taste.
  9. Gather the scraps, roll them again and cut more alfajores cookies until you use up all the dough.
  10. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until barely starting to color. Let cool completely on a wire rack.
  11. Put a tablespoon of dulce de leche (with a spoon or with a piping bag) and fill one round, flat side up. Press lightly with another round, flat side down forming the alfajores.
  12. With the back of a small spoon, wipe any dulce de leche that has overflowed. This will leave a path for the coconut to stick.
  13. Put unsweetened coconut on a small plate and roll the alfajores so that they're evenly coated. Or leave the sides plain.
  14. Eat them and be happy.

Notes

  • Organization: read the recipe first and ensure you have ingredients at the correct temperature, equipment, 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. You can use a thermometer that is placed inside the oven (like the OXO oven thermometer) to check that your oven is at the right temperature. I recommend you keep track of how your oven works and what tiny details you might need to adjust. 
  • Make-ahead: as with most cookie doughs, it can be made ahead and kept for 4-5 days in the refrigerator or up to a month in the freezer. Always make sure you wrap it well in clingy plastic. Otherwise, the top layer will dry out. 
  • Keeping: the cookies keep well in an airtight container for about a week. Fill them several hours ahead of time so they have time to soften a little. Take into account that the dulce de leche transfers moisture to the cornstarch cookies, softening them a little. And it's a good thing. 
  • Dulce de leche: the type of dulce de leche you use is everything if you want the filling not to leak after you assemble the alfajores. We use what is called 'repostero' which loosely translates to pastry dulce de leche, because it's used for baking and confections. It's thickened, similar to peanut butter, so it will never drip. The best brand is Vacalin dulce de leche repostero, which you can buy online and is the one most of us use here. I highly recommend it. 
  • Size and thickness: they can be made as small 2-inch rounds or up to 4 inches. Play around with size and thickness until you find your favorite. 
  • Fillings: when you say alfajores it's implied that they will have a dulce de leche filling. But you can use jams or ganache or cookie butter spreads, or nut butter. In that case, we specify the filling when we name them, like quince jam alfajores, or chocolate mousse alfajores. 
  • Here's a great recipe for gluten-free alfajores in case you need it.
  • Author: Paula Montenegro
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Category: Cookies
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: Argentinian

Keywords: alfajores, cornstarch alfajores