Baked Sunday Mornings: Alfajores

I was thrilled about this week's Baked Sunday Mornings recipe for Alfajores. I love alfajores (who doesn't?), and my husband Tom -- who lived in Argentina as an exchange student -- was psyched about having a homemade alfajor.

Before making the cookie dough, I started the dulce de leche. The cookbook provides stovetop, microwave, and oven options. I decided to go with stovetop because we don't own a microwave, and because that's the method I've successfully used before for the Millionaire's Shortbread recipe in Baked: New Frontiers in Baking. (Tom is accustomed to seeing dulce the leche being made either by heating condensed milk in the can while submerged in water, or heating the milk over direct heat; he asked me why I wasn't adding marbles to make sure the mixture was stirred constantly.) After two and a half hours in a double boiler, my condensed milk had transformed into what was essentially caramel; it was thicker than store bought dulce de leche and also lighter in color.

While the dulce de leche was in the double boiler, I made the cookies. The method for mixing the dough is pretty standard: cream butter and sugar; add lemon zest followed by an egg and egg yolks; add rum and vanilla; and incorporate the dry sifted ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cornstach). You need to chill the dough for at least 90 minutes before rolling and cutting it. I found that the dough was still very sticky after chilling and I had to use a lot of flour to roll it out. I used a 2-inch round cutter and got 58 cookies.

After the cookies were cool, I tried one plain and didn't like it. The bright lemon flavor was terrific -- I only had Meyer lemons on hand, so I had used Meyer lemon zest in the batter. But the cookie was very dry, and I had a definite Marco Rubio moment after I took a bite; I desperately wanted a glass of water. I thought that filling the cookies with dulce de leche would solve this problem, but it didn't.

I was quite disappointed with the alfajores. I don't think it's possible to get the dark color and intense flavor that dulce de leche should have in a double boiler; next time I'll try direct heat. What I got was essentially a light caramel, and while it was perfect as the middle layer of Millionaire's Shortbread, it was not the right filling for an alfajor. And the dry, sandy texture of the cookie was not enjoyable. ¡Que lástima!

Recipe: "Alfajores" from Baked Elements: Our 10 Favorite Ingredients, by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito, recipe available here at Baked Sunday Mornings.

Previous Post: "Lifestyles of the Rich and Caramel-y: Millionaire's Shortbread," May 29, 2012.


I too was let down by these cookies. Love your Rubio comment...too funny!!
Louise said…
I use this recipe for Alfajores. It's a dream to roll. I've made them for 10 years and it's still my favorite. BAKED's recipe is similar but calls for more butter and eggs.

Anonymous said…
I thought the cookie part was good for a sandy-textured cookie (of which I am 99% of the time *not* a fan). I under-baked my second batch and they were much better a bit softer. :)
Susan said…
I'd never had these before, so had no idea what to expect, but they weren't my favorite.
Anonymous said…
Looks like these had lots of mixed opinions! My dulce de leche wasn't very dark either, but I did like it, and fortunately my cookies came out soft. I think they have to be taken out of the oven at the earliest possible moment. However, they definitely were dry by the second day... Though they didn't come out as you would have liked, they ARE very pretty, but of course that's not everything... I hope next week is better! :)