Alfajores are soft and airy cookies popular around Christmas. Inside is a dulce de leche filling that tastes like the richest caramel. One of the greatest cookies you’ll ever make!
Making desserts together is one of my family’s favorite holiday traditions. They’re such a fun bonding activity, and you get delicious treats at the end. Try it by baking these Buckeye Brownie Cookies, Christmas Sugar Cookies, and Pudding Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies!
Alfajores Cookies Recipe
Alfajores are a staple Christmas dessert in my home. If you’ve never made or had them before, prepare to be amazed. They’re unlike any cookie out there. The filling is made of authentic dulce de leche, dolloped between two buttery and delicate cookies.
My recipe calls for these to be rolled in unsweetened, shredded coconut for an extra layer of texture and flavor.
They’re absolutely beautiful arranged on a plate, with the coconut resembling fresh Christmas snow. I also love wrapping them up as edible gifts, and some of my friends and loved ones specifically request them during the holidays!
They’re perfect for Christmas, but they’re so good I bet you’ll be making them all year long! Also, every bite is tender and filled with flavor, the crumbs melt in your mouth!
What are Alfajores?
The most unique element of this recipe is that it has more cornstarch than flour. Those proportions produce a dough that’s very similar to shortbread.
These cookies are crunchy but almost melt away after you bite into them. They enclose a dulce de leche filling, and some bakers roll them in coconut to balance the sweetness.
If you enjoy baking, you probably have most of these already. As for the filling, no need to make your own though you can certainly do so. Store-bought is totally fine to use. You will need:
- Cornstarch: The main ingredient of these treats, they are responsible for the distinctive light crumb.
- Flour: Important for structure.
- Baking powder: This is our leavening agent.
- Salt: Just a little pinch will prevent these treats from tasting flat.
- Unsalted butter: Let soften to room temp before using.
- Sugar: Regular granulation is all you need.
- Vanilla: Brings out the flavors!
- Dulce de leche: Store-bought, but you can make from scratch if you wish.
- Coconut: Shredded, unsweetened is perfect for this recipe.
How to make the homemade dulce de leche Alfajores?
- Whisk. Blend the cornstarch, baking powder, and salt first.
- Beat. Make sure your butter is room temp before beating to a light and fluffy consistency. Beat in the pure vanilla and yolks.
- Make the dough. Add the cornstarch mix to the butter blend. Combine on low. Flatten into a disk and chill.
- Bake. Once they’ve been chilled for around an hour, roll into a thin layer about an eighth or quarter inch. Cut out into circles. Bake at 350F for 8 minutes, rotating at the 4-minute mark. Cool.
- Assemble. Smear or dollop dulce de leche onto a cookie, and sandwich with another. Roll alfajores gently over the coconut. Repeat until done.
- Try other fillings: Other great options are vanilla cream, chocolate mousse, marmalade, sweet potato caramel, fruit jam, and honey.
- Triple-stack them: Some bakers add a third cookie in the middle for thicker alfajores.
- Dip them in chocolate: You can dip the entire thing in chocolate, or do one half with dark chocolate another one with white.
- Glaze them: These are delicious with a simple sugar glaze!
What is dulce de leche?
It has a similar flavor profile to caramel and is made with condensed milk and other types of sweetened milk. Some add vanilla. The consistency is different from caramel, dulce de leche is much thicker and spreadable.
One way to make them is to combine milk and sugar in a pan, bring to a boil, and simmer for around 2 hrs until done. Another way is to follow the same process, but using an unopened can of condensed milk, simmered for a couple of hours in water.
It’s really easy to make dulce de leche, but for convenience, you can also find equally delicious versions in stores.
What kind of coconut should you use?
I use the unsweetened variety so that it has the most subtle coconut flavor while highlighting the alfajores.
How to store Alfajores?
Make sure that the container you put them in is completely airtight. These treats are sensitive to air and moisture. Too much exposure and they tend to lose that light softness. They will stay perfect for a week at room temp, and a couple of months frozen.
More delicious Christmas desserts:
- Eggnog Cheesecake
- Reindeer Noses Treats
- Homemade Pecan Pie with Bourbon
- Fruit Cake
- Red Velvet Creme Brulee
- Stir the dough just until mixed to prevent them from getting tough.
- Don’t skip the chilling time because it helps the dough hold its shape.
- 1 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter (room temperature)
- 2/3 cup white granulated sugar
- 3 egg yolks
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 cup dulce de leche
- 1/3 cup shredded coconut unsweetened
- Whisk together the flour, cornstarch, salt, and baking powder in a large bowl, set aside.
- Add butter and sugar to a large bowl and beat on medium speed using an electric hand mixer, for about 3 minutes or until light and fluffy.
- Add the egg yolks and vanilla extract and mix until combined. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl down once.
- Add in the dry ingredients and mix on low speed until just combined. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl down once.
- Flatten the dough into two disks and wrap well with plastic wrap and chill for about an hour.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Let the dough stand for 10 minutes at room temperature, after that, roll it out on a lightly floured surface, between 1/4 and 1/8 an inch thickness.
- Using a round cookie cutter, cut the dough and transfer to parchment-lined baking sheets. Re-roll any excess dough and repeat.
- Bake cookies for about 8-10 minutes rotating the pan halfway through, the sides should be lightly golden. Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet before assembling.
- Once cooled, add a dollop of dulce de leche onto the back of a cookie and sandwich it with the bottom of another cookie. Roll in shredded coconut and repeat with the remaining cookies.