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Alfajores

Alfajores

This sweet Argentinian treat can be found in bakeries all over Israel, sadly many are overly sweet. The homemade versions have the perfect balance between sweet and crumbly and are well worth the effort!

*We use just a bit of dulce de leche to sandwich our biscuits together, but you can use as much as you want. If you do add enough that it kind of peaks out between the two biscuits, the traditional thing to do is to roll the exposed dulce de Leche in desiccated coconut.

**If you do go the coconut route, consider toasting the desiccated coconut in a dry frying pan first, as this will add a nutty flavor, that will enhance the overall cookie.

***We made our own dulce de Leche, see the instructions below.

  • 250g (2 cups) plain (all-purpose) flour
  • 250g (2 cups) cornflour (cornstarch)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 250g (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
  • 150g (⅔ cup) caster (superfine) sugar
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 1 tablespoon brandy
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 450g jar dulce de leche (or homemade – see below)
  • 50g (½ cup) desiccated coconut (optional)

Combine the flour, cornflour (cornstarch), and baking powder together in a bowl with a pinch of salt. Using a food mixer or an electric whisk in another bowl beat the butter together with the sugar until very pale. Add the lemon zest, and egg yolks followed by the brandy and vanilla extract. Beat in the dry ingredients until you have a smooth dough. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap or baking paper and chill for a minimum of 1 hour. You can make the biscuit dough the day before and leave in the fridge.

Line two large baking trays with baking parchment. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to the thickness of a pound coin then cut out 60 biscuits with a 5cm round cutter.

Heat the oven to 180℃ (375℉). Bake the biscuits for 8 mins until just set. You want the biscuits to stay pale with a crumbly texture. Leave to cool completely before sandwiching two biscuits together with a spoonful of Dulce de Leche. Once all the biscuits are sandwiched together roll in desiccated coconut.

Dulce de Leche

You may be forgiven for thinking that Dulce de Leche is simply South American caramel, made on a base of burnt sugar like most caramels. But in fact, Dulce de Leche – sweet of milk as its name connotes is sweetened milk that has caramelized. Dulce de Leche is made by cooking down milk that has been sweetened until the whole thing caramelizes. Unlike traditional caramel, Dulce de Leche doesn’t have a burnt aftertaste and is in that way less complex – but equally heavenly. The high amount of milk makes it easy to spread and is a favorite South American spread on toast. There are some really great brands out there, but if you can’t find them, make your own.

You can start from scratch using milk and sugar, but this takes between 7-8 hours. Or you can start with a can of sweetened condensed milk and nothing could be simpler.

Peel the paper off a can of sweetened condensed milk, place in a pot with enough water, to cover the can by at least two inches. Bring water to a boil, keep on a rolling boil for 2 hours for a liquid caramel, and three hours for a creamy spreadable dulce de leche, check on the pot regularly to make sure that water remains two inches above the cans if water level drops top off with boiling water from the kettle. Remove the can from the water after reaching desired consistency. Allow to cool completely before opening the can.