Making Perfect Argentinian Alfajores with Homemade Dulce de Leche

Today, I am thrilled to guide you through making the perfect Argentinian Alfajores with homemade Dulce de Leche.

Alfajores are a beloved treat in Argentina and many parts of Latin America, known for their soft, crumbly texture and rich, caramel-like filling.

These delightful cookies have a rich history dating back to the Moorish occupation of Spain, later brought to South America by Spanish settlers.

Alfajores hold a special place in Argentine culture, enjoyed with coffee, given as gifts, and found in nearly every bakery.

Ingredients and Equipment

Now let’s talk about ingredients.

For the Alfajores

Ingredients for Argentinian Alfajores

  • All-purpose flour:
    • The foundation of our cookie dough provides structure.
  • Cornstarch:
    • Essential for that melt-in-your-mouth texture.
  • Butter:
    • Adds richness and a tender crumb.
  • Baking powder:
    • Helps the cookies rise slightly and remain light.
  • Egg yolks:
    • Contribute to the richness and binding of the dough.
  • Sugar:
    • Sweetens the dough just right.
  • Lemon zest:
    • Adds a subtle, fresh citrus flavor that complements the sweetness.
  • Milk:
    • Moistens the dough and helps bring it all together.
  • Vanilla extract (optional):
    • For an extra layer of flavor.
  • Powdered sugar:
    • For dusting the finished cookies, giving them a delicate sweetness.
  • Grated coconut (optional):
    • For rolling the edges of the assembled cookies.

For the Dulce de Leche

Dulce de Leche

Equipment Needed

Equipment You Need for Alfajores

  • Mixing bowls:
    • Various sizes for mixing ingredients.
  • Electric mixer:
    • Makes creaming the butter and sugar a breeze.
  • Rolling pin:
    • For rolling out the dough evenly.
  • Cookie cutter:
    • To cut out perfect rounds of dough.
  • Baking sheets:
    • For baking the cookies.
  • Parchment paper:
    • Prevents sticking and makes cleanup easier.
  • Wire racks:
    • Essential for cooling the cookies properly.

Having all these ingredients and equipment ready will ensure a smooth baking process. Now, let’s move on to making the star of our Alfajores – the Dulce de Leche.

Preparing the Dulce de Leche

Now the time is to discuss preparation.

Method 1: Stovetop

Caramelized Milk on the Stovetop

Start by removing the label from a can of sweetened condensed milk. Place the unopened can in a large pot and cover it completely with water.

Bring the water to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Let the can simmer for about 2 to 3 hours, ensuring the water level remains above the can.

You may need to add more water as it evaporates. This slow cooking process caramelizes the sugar in the milk, turning it into thick, golden Dulce de Leche.

After the cooking time, carefully remove the can from the water using tongs and let it cool completely before opening.

Once cool, transfer the Dulce de Leche to an airtight container and store it in the refrigerator.

Method 2: Oven

Baking at the 220 degrees celsius

Preheat your oven to 425°F (220°C). Pour the sweetened condensed milk into a shallow baking dish and cover it tightly with aluminum foil.

Place this dish inside a larger baking pan and add hot water to the larger pan until it reaches halfway up the sides of the smaller dish.

Bake for about 1 to 1.5 hours, stirring occasionally, until the milk reaches a rich caramel color.

Once done, remove it from the oven and let it cool before transferring it to a container.

Making the Alfajores Dough

Making the Alfajores Dough

Sifting dry ingredients (flour, cornstarch, baking powder): Start by sifting 2 cups of all-purpose flour, 1 cup of cornstarch, and 1 teaspoon of baking powder into a large mixing bowl. Sifting these ingredients together not only ensures they are well combined but also aerates them, resulting in lighter, more delicate cookies.

Creaming butter and sugar: In a separate bowl, cream 1 cup of softened butter and ¾ cup of sugar together using an electric mixer. Beat until the mixture is light and fluffy, which should take about 3 to 5 minutes. This step is crucial for incorporating air into the dough, giving the cookies their tender texture.

Adding egg yolks, milk, and lemon zest: Next, add 3 egg yolks, 2 tablespoons of milk, and the zest of one lemon to the butter and sugar mixture. Beat until fully combined. The egg yolks enrich the dough, while the milk helps to bind the ingredients, and the lemon zest adds a subtle, refreshing flavor.

Combining dry and wet ingredients: Gradually add the sifted dry ingredients to the wet mixture, mixing on low speed until just combined. Avoid overmixing, as this can make the dough tough.

Forming and chilling the dough: Once the dough comes together, shape it into a disc, wrap it in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Chilling the dough makes it easier to handle and helps prevent the cookies from spreading too much during baking. With the dough prepared and chilling, we are now ready to shape and bake our Alfajores.

Shaping and Baking the Cookies

Shaping and Baking Alfajores

Rolling out the dough: Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C). Lightly flour your work surface and rolling pin. Roll out the chilled dough to a thickness of about ¼ inch. Rolling the dough evenly ensures that the cookies bake uniformly.

Cutting out cookie rounds: Using a round cookie cutter (about 2 inches in diameter), cut out as many circles as possible. Gather the scraps, re-roll them, and cut out more circles until all the dough is used.

Placing on baking sheets: Arrange the cookie rounds on baking sheets lined with parchment paper, spacing them about 1 inch apart. The parchment paper prevents the cookies from sticking and makes cleanup easier.

Baking at the correct temperature: Bake the cookies in the preheated oven for 10-12 minutes, or until the edges are just beginning to turn golden. Keep a close eye on them, as they can go from perfectly baked to overdone quickly.

Cooling the cookies properly: Remove the cookies from the oven and let them cool on the baking sheets for a few minutes before transferring them to wire racks to cool completely. This step is crucial to allow the cookies to set and achieve the right texture.

Now that the cookies are baked and cooled, we will move on to the final steps of assembling and enjoying our Alfajores.