Let me just say that I cannot believe I don’t have a recipe for regular Alfajores on this entire blog. It shook me to my core. A long time ago, I posted a recipe for Mini Alfajores but I don’t have just regular size ones.
Also, I’m now grown and am a whole lot better at baking so I think this recipe is definitely superior. I’ve played with the cookie a bit and am very into this ratio. A lot of Alfajores are made just corn starch but I’ve always felt like they were a bit too chaulky for me. So this is a nice in between.
It has some flour, some corn starch and powdered sugar (which obviously has corn starch in it). And added egg yolk gives it a nice richness and since I was feeling fancy, I used some vanilla paste, which I use incredibly sparingly since it’s so expensive (but has recently gone down in price).
This biggest difference between Peruvian Alfajores and Alfajores from other parts of South America is that we don’t call it dulce de leche, we use the term manjar blanco. West of the Andes mountains, the term manjar blanco is used, east of the Andes mountains, the term dulce de leche is used.
In Colombia the term “arequipa” is used.
I took to IG stories last week to ask about alfajores from different countries and this is what I found out! (Honestly this was so interesting to me.):
Argentina – In Argentina alfajores are typically made with all corn starch and the sides are rolled in shredded coconut.
Chile – It varies from parts in Chile, but some of the cookies are a bit thicker and there are times when nuts and meringue are folded into the mix. Meringue honestly sounds super delicious. And there are time where the entire cookie is dunked in chocolate.
Bolivia – The alfajores are a cross between Argentinan alfajores and Peruvian alfajores. They are usually mixed with all-purpose flour and rolled in coconut.
I find the differences so interesting and so cool. If you have anything to add, PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT BELOW!
When I was in Peru, I went to this bakery and was blown away by the alfajores. They melted in your mouth. So good. The one I had was rolled in powdered sugar and the manjar blanco had a subtle cinnamon flavor to it, which is typical.
I remember when my Tia Emilia would visit from Peru and would make the manjar blanco from scratch. She’d add the cinnamon stick and whole cloves and would stir and stir. The entire house would smell so good.
This recipe below offers some short cuts. The brand La Lechera sells dulce de leche already in the can. I offer an option of adding a pinch of cinnamon and cloves to these and mixing it in. This is a super quick and easy shortcut and guess what: they’re still amazing.
I also offer a recipe to make the manjar blanco from scratch. It’s delicious so choose whatever filling best suits your mood and time limits.
When I was in Peru a couple months ago, we went to a few more modern bakeries and they had various sizes, different flavors and it made me super excited to make new twists on this classic.
But first, you gotta start with the basics! So here she is…enjoy.
Manjar-Blanco Short Cut:
- 1 (14-ounce) can store bought dulce de leche
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Pinch ground cloves
- Pinch kosher salt
Vanilla Shortbread Cookie:
- 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup corn starch, sifted
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar, sifted
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 2 teaspons vanilla extract or vanilla paste
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1/3 cup powdered sugar, sifted
To Make the Manjar Blanco short cut:
- To a medium bowl, add the store-bought dulce de leche, along with the cinnamon, ground cloves and salt. Mix until smooth and completely combined. Set aside.
To Make the Cookies:
- To the medium bowl, whisk together the all-purpose flour, sifted corn starch, powdered sugar and salt. Set aside.
- To the bowl of a stand-up mixer (you can also use a medium bowl and an electric hand-mixer), add the butter and vanilla paste or extract. Beat until smooth. Next, add the egg yolk and mix just until incorporated.
- Add all of the flour mixture and slowly mix it together (being sure not to go too quickly or else the flour will fly out of the bowl), until combined, about 1 minute.
- Scoop the dough out of the bowl and form it into a ball. Place it in the center of a sheet of plastic wrap and press it into about a 2-inch round. Wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and transfer to the fridge to chill for about 1 hour.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- When it’s done resting, in the fridge, transfer the dough to the center of a sheet of parchment. Place a sheet of parchment on top and roll it out slowly. (If it’s too cold, let it come closer to room temperature, about 10 minutes.) Roll it out until it’s about 1/2 to 1/4-inch thick.
- Using a 3-inch cookie cutter, stamp out cookies, having them as close to each other as possible. Transfer the cookies (I found it easiest to use an offset spatula to pick up the cookies) to a parchment-lined baking sheet, spacing them about 2-inches apart. Transfer to the fridge to chill for about 10 minutes. Repeat until you work your way through all of the dough. I rerolled the dough about 2 more times.
- Score the tops of the cookies with a tines of a fork. Transfer to the oven to bake for about 12 to 13 minutes, until the cookies are a bit firm to the touch but have zero color on the edges. These cookies are baked just until set. Allow to cool on the baking sheets until room temperature.
To Assemble the Alfajores:
- When the cookies have cooled, flip half of the cookies on their opposite side. Transfer the manjar blanco to a piping bag with a piping tip attached (this part is optional). Pipe a round of manjar blanco on all of the cookies facing their opposite sides.
- Alternatively, you could also spoon the manjar blanco onto each of the cookies and smooth it out (gently because the cookies are delicate) using a butter knife.
- Top each of the cookies with another cookies and lightly press it down. Roll the sides in the sifted powdered sugar. Store in an air-tight container or bag for up to 3 to 5 days.