It has been years since I have given much thought to the alfajor or alfajores, a scrumptiously sweet sandwich cookie reminiscent of my childhood in Latin America. But as Summer fades and crisp juicy apples start to fill the produce bins, my mind turns toward other Fall treats such as caramel covered apples and spiced cider. In my universe, definitely a product of my upbringing, caramel will always come in second best to dulce de leche; which with its milk base has a richer taste, a creamier texture, is less sticky, and much easier on the teeth. The downside to dulce de leche is that it will slide right off any apple you might want to coat with it – even if it is in the form of apple slices. As you can see I’ve contemplated this a lot over the years, and this year it brought me around to thinking about other dulce de leche treats from my past including the alfajor. This brought on the epiphany that an alfajor would be a wonderful accompaniment to a warm mug of spiced cider, brilliantly combining my desire for a classic Fall treat and my snobby dulce de leche preferences. I had to try it.
This Recipe makes about 18 Alfajores
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Cream together in a large mixing bowl: 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, 1 cup sugar, 1 egg, and 2 tsp almond extract.
Combined dry ingredients in a separate bowl: 2 3/4 cups flour, 1 1/2 tsp baking powder, and 1/2 tsp salt.
Mix the wet and dry ingredients together until they are combined.
Place the dough in the refrigerator for an hour or two – until the dough is firm and easy to work with.
Roll out dough until it is about 1/4 inch thick, and cut out about 36 circular cookies (the circular cutter I used was 1 1/2 inches in diameter).
Place the cookies on parchment lined baking sheets, and bake them for 8 – 10 minutes or until they are still slightly soft but dry to touch.
Once the cookies have cooled, place about 1 tbsp of dulce de leche between each pair of cookies sandwiching them together. Use a knife to scrape the excess dulce de leche evenly along the sides of the cookie, and then roll the sides of the cookie in shredded coconut. The coconut should stick to the dulce de leche.
Dulce de Leche:
If you can not find dulce de leche at your local grocery stores it is really easy to make. Just submerge a can of sweetened condensed milk in a pot of simmering water, and leave it on a slow boil for 1 1/2 to 3 hours. The longer and slower you let it cook the richer the flavor develops. Remove the can from the heat and let it cool down completely. Open the can and you should have a nice, rich, caramel-brown spread.