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Alfajores, made in Peru as far back as Colonial times, are always present at my friends’ and family’s gatherings. These butter cookies are filled with manjar blanco (Peruvian for dulce de leche), and are the signature dessert at all my events. I always rely on my mom to make them – she has her own secrets for making the perfect Alfajor.
This recipe takes a little bit of time to make, but the reward is worth it. Enjoy!!
Yield: Two dozen cookies
Ingredients for the dough:
2 cups all purpose unbleached flour, sifted
¼ cup confectioners sugar
½ tsp salt
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
½ tsp vanilla extract
Ingredients for the manjar blanco:
4 cups milk
1 cup white granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla
1 cinnamon stick
Garnish: Confectioners Sugar
In a medium sized mixing bowl, combine the flour, confectioners sugar and salt, then add the butter and mix the ingredients together by hand until a uniform dough is formed. Add the vanilla and work the dough until it is smooth. Form into a ball, wrap in saran wrap and place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to one hour.
In the meantime, prepare the manjar blanco. In a medium pot over a medium-low flame, heat the milk, white and brown sugar, baking soda, vanilla and cinnamon stick until it boils then continue to cook for 5 minutes. Then reduce the heat and simmer on low for about 1 hour until the mixture thickens and becomes dark and thick. Set aside to cool.
Preheat the oven to 350F. Roll out the chilled dough onto a floured surface, until about 1/8” thickness, then cut into rounds with a 2 - 2½” cookie cutter. Place on a greased cookie sheet and bake for about 10 minutes, until the tops turn a light golden color. Remove and let cool completely.
Spread the manjar blanco on one alfajor and top with another to make a sandwich. Sprinkle confectioners sugar over the cookies
Tip: You can prepare manjar blanco up to two days in advance and store covered in the refrigerator.
Marita Lynn is a Peruvian chef, entrepreneur and blogger. Her company, Catering by Maria, serves New York City and Greater New Jersey.