Alfajores: The King of Cookies

Alfajores with Raspberry Glaze

I still remember the first time I tried a Havanna Alfajor. I was a newly minted college graduate who moved down to Miami to be closer to home. In this sunny strip of paradise, I landed my first job as a fund trader at a Spanish bank. I worked with a ton of private bankers from all over South America and Spain, a group of movers and shakers with monogrammed shirts continuously nostalgic about the worlds they had left behind.

Those who were lucky enough to fly home for work always returned with a box of Havanna Alfajores stocked with gold and silver pucks of dulce de leche treasures. The golden wrappers indicated a dark chocolate covered Alfajor, while the silver wrapper meant a cookie dressed in a thin veil of white chocolate. I loved the golden wrappers and the dense and crumbly cookies they protected, which had been dipped in milk chocolate and filled with a tangy dulce de leche. They were the most beautiful way to sweeten an afternoon cup of tea. For me and all my friends who worked with me, they meant sustained sugar-fueled giddiness for hours.

Last week, I found a recipe from de Porres, and became obsessed with creating my own. I dreamt about adding raspberries or blueberries to the cookie dough? Or how about a berry coulis to the dulce de leche? After some sketching and googling, I decided on a raspberry fruit glaze as a tangy topping to the cookie. I found a safe way to make dulce de leche from scratch, no risk of freaky can explosions in the kitchen. Since there are many parts involved, these can be real stamina-building cookies. But they’ll offer a sweet reward for all your hard work.

Alfajores with Raspberry Glaze (adapted from de Porres)

makes about a dozen cookies

For the cookie

1 3/4 cups cornstarch
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 cup butter (softened)
2 tablespoons Cognac or Brandy
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
zest of 1 small lemon

Sift dry ingredients and combine. Cut up butter and add to dry ingredients. Mix with your hands. Add cognac, vanilla, and lemon until fully combined and dough feels smooth. Let dough rest in refrigerator (for at least 30 minutes or a few hours).

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Remove dough from refrigerator. Let sit at room temperature until easy to handle.

Roll out dough in floured surface to about 1/3 inch thick (or less if you prefer a thinner cookie). Use a 1 inch mold to cut the cookies. Place in lined baking sheet. Cook for about 13 minutes or until cookie starts to look barely golden brown. Transfer to wire rack and cool.

For dulce de leche (from scratch!)

1 can of condensed milk

1/4 teaspoon of salt

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Pour milk in a pie plate and sprinkle with salt. Cover tightly with aluminum foil. Place pie plate in a roasting pan and place in the middle of the oven. Pour hot water in roasting pan so that it reaches halfway up the pie plate. Cook for 1 hour.

Remove pie plate carefully from oven. Stir the dulce for 1 minute. It should start to turn a golden brown. Cover with aluminum and return to oven. Cook for one more hour. Remove from oven. Stir for about 3 minutes. Let cool and refrigerate in an airtight container for about a week.

For the fruit glaze

1 cup powdered sugar

3 tablespoons rasperry, blueberry, or strawberry purée

Blend a quart of fresh raspberries. Strain the seeds so that all you have is the smooth fruit purée. Whip the fruit with the sugar in a bowl.

Last but not least, to assemble the Alfajores: Smear dulce de leche on one cookie and top with a second cookie. Drizzle with raspberry glaze, sprinkle some powdered sugar, and enjoy!

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