Classic alfajores filled with dulce de leche and rolled in shredded coconut. They are so soft they’ll melt in your mouth!
As far as I know, there are two ways of making alfajores: the Argentinean style and the American style. While the latter is usually made of a simple shortbread cookie, the classic Argentinean cookies are so much better in texture, and are the most melt-in-your-mouth cookies on this planet. Ok, that may be an exaggeration, but let me have my moment.
Alfajores are filled with dulce de leche (which is rather caramel-like) and rolled in coconut. Not only is this combination heavenly, but the cookie itself is extremely soft and tender.
The coconut really adds a great flavor and cuts some of the sweetness, so I strongly suggest adding it. Also, don’t bother to make your own dulce de leche at home. Store-bought is just as delicious for these cookies.
What makes the superb texture that I simply can’t get over is the cornstarch. There’s quite a bit of cornstarch in this recipe, but you don’t end up with a strange aftertaste like in some others. Using egg yolks instead of whole eggs also contribute to that tenderness.
When making the dough, if it feels dry (maybe due to inaccuracy of cup measurement), then add cold water or milk, just a little at a time. Also, mix the dough just until the ingredients are combined. If mixing for a long time, the cookies can turn out tough. Overall, play with the dough as little as possible.
Let’s talk about the chilling time for these cookies. I know you want to take some shortcuts here, I get you. You just want your cookie and you want it now. Totally been there. But for cookies that hold their shape well and don’t spread out while baking, the dough has to be chilled long enough. The first chilling is once the dough has been made. It’ll be too soft for rolling, so you’ll need to chill it for 1-2 hours, until firm. The second chilling is before baking the cookies. Just place the sheet of cookies in the fridge or freezer until they’re firm, at least 15 minutes.
- 1 1/2 cups (200g/7 oz.) all-purpose flour
- 2 1/8 cups (300g/10.5 oz.) cornstarch
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 and 3/4 sticks (200g/7 oz.) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 3/4 cup (150g/5.3 oz.) granulated sugar*
- 1-2 teaspoons grated lemon zest , optional
- 3 large egg yolks
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 350 g (12 oz.) dulce de leche, for filling
- 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded or desiccated coconut , for rolling
In a medium bowl, sift together flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and baking soda. Set aside.
In a mixer bowl fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter, sugar, and lemon zest on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in egg yolks and vanilla extract just until combined. Reduce speed to low. Add the flour mixture and beat just until combined. Do not overmix or the cookies will turn out tough.
Form the dough into a ball, then flatten slightly to form a disc. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1-2 hours, until firm enough to roll.
If you don’t want to use the dough right away, you can refrigerate it for up to 3 days or freeze it for up to a month, then thaw it overnight in the fridge.
Take the dough out of the fridge and let it sit on the counter for a few minutes to soften slightly for easy rolling. On a lightly floured surface (or between 2 pieces of parchment paper), roll the dough to a 1/8 or 1/4-inch (3-5mm) thickness. Cut out into rounds using a 2-inch (5cm) fluted or round cookie cutter, and place the cookies on baking sheets lined with parchment paper.
If at any point the dough becomes too warm, place it back into the fridge for a few minutes. Re-roll the remaining scraps and repeat. Place sheets with cookies in the freezer or fridge for at least 15 minutes, until firm, so that they will be less prone to spreading.
Preheat oven to 350F/180C. Bake for 7-10 minutes, or until cookies appear golden brown at the edges. Allow cookies to cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then gently transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Spread the bottom half of the cookies with dulce de leche (about a teaspoon). Sandwich together with remaining cookies, pressing slightly so that the caramel oozes out the sides. Roll the sides in shredded coconut.
Store cookies at room temperature in an airtight container for up to a week or freeze for up to 2 months. To thaw, leave on the counter, still covered, or overnight in the fridge.
*or 1 1/4 cups (150g) powdered sugar