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Alfajores anyone?

You don't need to be a gourmand to know that pretty much anything tastes good with dulce de leche. Now, add two biscuit cookies on each side and dip it in your favorite topping of melted chocolate, coconut flakes or powdered sugar...and you have an alfajor. Need I say more.

                                            

Alfajores are known as possibly the most Argentine treat you can find. But, calling it a treat really doesn't describe it adequately. The alfajor is a nostalgic part of growing up in Argentina. The smell of the sweet dulce de leche caramelizing on the kitchen stove and the crumbly biscuits baking in the oven are what you longed for as a child.

                                                  

There are many stories of how and where the first alfajor was made. What I can tell you for sure is, there is no question that wherever you go in Argentina you will find alfajores in some form or shape, and each will taste uniquely distinct. An experience you are sure to not forget.

RECIPE

Ingredients (12)

  • 1 cup cornstarch
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine salt
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick), at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 tablespoon pisco or brandy
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup dulce de leche, at room temperature
  • Powdered sugar, for dusting

Instructions

  1. Place the cornstarch, measured flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl and whisk briefly to combine; set aside.
  2. Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed, stopping the mixer to scrape down the sides of the bowl once with a rubber spatula, until the mixture is light in color and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg yolks, pisco or brandy, and vanilla and mix until incorporated, about 30 seconds. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl. On low speed, gradually add the reserved flour mixture and mix until just incorporated with no visible white pockets, about 30 seconds.
  3. Turn the dough out onto a piece of plastic wrap, shape it into a smooth disk, and wrap it tightly. Place in the refrigerator until firm, at least 1 hour.
  4. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 350°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
  5. Remove the dough from the refrigerator, unwrap it, and place it on a lightly floured work surface. Lightly flour the top of the dough. Roll to 1/4-inch thickness (the dough will crack but can be easily patched back together). Stamp out 24 rounds using a plain or fluted 2-inch round cutter (or another fun shape), rerolling the dough as necessary until all of it is gone.
  6. Place the cookies on the prepared baking sheets, 12 per sheet and at least 1/2 inch apart. Bake 1 sheet at a time until the cookies are firm and pale golden on the bottom, about 12 to 14 minutes. (The cookies will remain pale on top.) Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  7. Flip half of the cookies upside down and gently spread about 2 teaspoons of the dulce de leche on each. Place a second cookie on top and gently press to create a sandwich. Dust generously with powdered sugar before serving. Alternative toppings: dipped in melted chocolate; rolled in coconut bits or crushed pistachios.
  8. Make it your own and enjoy!

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