How to Make Homemade Alfajores

When I first began surfing food blogs back in 2007, the first recipe that caught me eye was for these delicious sandwich cookies that had caramel oozing out the sides:  Alfajores.  Here it is 2009, and I have finally- just now- gotten around to making them.

Our neighborhood’s Gourmet Club had a Spanish-themed Paella dinner party last weekend, and I begged to contribute alfajores as a dessert choice.  An alfajor consists of two sweet biscuits sandwiched together with dulce de leche (or jam) and sprinkled with powdered sugar. It’s a traditional cookie found in some regions in Spain and in countries of Latin America. Our dinner party hostess grew up in Peru and is quite fond of the traditional alfajor. She was happy to learn that I was willing to make them.

I scoured the blogaverse for the best recipe and settled on one found at La Vida en Buenos Aires.

Here’s the How-To:
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Mix the ‘biscuit’ dough by hand and then chill until slightly firm. Roll out the dough, and cut out rounds. (I used biscuit cutters- some 2-inch and some 1-inch).
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If you use a 2-inch cutter, you’ll get about 50 biscuits- enough for 25 sandwich cookies. Take some time to find good pairs that are like-sized and place them together.
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Set up an assembly line of biscuits, dulce de leche and grated coconut. Make the dulce de leche homemade (instructions HERE). You can locate finely grated coconut in the bulk bins at Whole Foods for a cheap price. If you can only find the shredded sort, go ahead and grind it up in your food processor. You don’t want big shreds of coconut.
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Take some time to scoop up your dulce de leche and admire its gooeyness.
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Spoon a dollop of dulce onto the flat part of one cookie. alfajores10
Place the flat part of the matching cookie pair on top and squeeze lightly together.
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Roll edges in grated coconut, and place on rack to set. If it will be a while before serving (or if it’s a warm day), you may with to place them in the refrigerator to set.
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They’re good as is, but the classic alfajor is sprinkled with powdered sugar. You can do this just before serving to avoid the possibility of getting smudgy fingerprints on the cookies.
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I made some small ones that were a nice little treat for us to keep at home!
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The larger sized ones were brought to the dinner party, and they were served with Lucuma ice cream that they hostess had made. Lucuma is a fruit that is native to Peru and it is rarely seen in the United States. Since the fruit cannot be brought to the US on the airplane, our hostess brought back Lucuma powder to make the ice cream. In Peru, Lucuma ice cream is more popular than chocolate and vanilla. I thought it was delicious. If I ever get myself to Peru, I’d love to try the real thing.

The alfajores were a big hit at the party. They were a perfect garnish for ice cream, and the few that were left over were gone before the end of the night.

Note: If you don’t like coconut, you can always leave it out… however, I’m one who doesn’t like coconut but loved it in these cookies. It doesn’t take on an overwhelming flavor at all.

This recipe can be found HERE.

Leave a Comment




70 Responses to “How to Make Homemade Alfajores”

  1. 1

    VeggieGirl — March 30, 2009 @ 3:23 AM

    Cookies with CARAMEL?!?!?!?!??! I’m all over those :-D

  2. 2

    Penny — March 30, 2009 @ 3:44 AM

    The cookies look soooo good. I am fixing these for a Christmas cookie swap. Thanks!

  3. 3

    canarygirl — March 30, 2009 @ 6:38 AM

    Oh. My. Gawd. Did I just die and go to heaven or is this recipe for real??? This is the best recipe I’ve seen in months and months, maybe EVER! Absolutely fabulous.

    ps, your site design is SO freaking cute! I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it before, but I wanted you to know that I love it. :)

  4. 4

    Susan at Sticky,Gooey,Creamy,Chewy — March 30, 2009 @ 5:47 AM

    The only thing that could make me happier than looking at those luscious cookies would be eating some! They look fabulous! I’ve been wanting to make alfajores myself, but I never seem to get around to it.

  5. 5

    Anne — March 30, 2009 @ 6:01 AM

    I would just scop up the dulce de leche with a spoon :) These look so yummy, though!

  6. 6

    Angela @ A Spoonful of Sugar — March 30, 2009 @ 7:06 AM

    Oh wow, these look seriously decadent and gooey. Gorgeous photos!

  7. 7

    Hugging the Coast — March 30, 2009 @ 6:06 AM

    What great photos! Dulce de leche is truly wonderful stuff!

  8. 8

    Elle — March 30, 2009 @ 6:18 AM

    Such torture to see these in the morning! Would be wonderful with coffee! I’m impressed, Lori–they’re gorgeous.

  9. 9

    Maria — March 30, 2009 @ 6:41 AM

    Great way to use your dulce de leche! The cookies look wonderful. I love the coconut on the sides. A nice finishing touch!

  10. 10

    Ginny — March 30, 2009 @ 6:48 AM

    I love alfajores! Looks delicious! :)

  11. 11

    nina — March 30, 2009 @ 7:09 AM

    I have never heard of this cookie before, but oh dear I would have loved to gobble down a few right now!!

  12. 12

    patsyk — March 30, 2009 @ 8:40 AM

    They look so wonderful! Nice job on them, and dulce de leche is what would sell me on these cookies! :)

  13. 13

    dawn — March 30, 2009 @ 9:00 AM

    oh my gosh Lori! That bowl of caramel is just so food porn! LOL
    But yes, I love the cookies! How can one not?

  14. 14

    lettergirl — March 30, 2009 @ 9:04 AM

    Those look absolutely delicious!!!

  15. 15

    Ben — March 30, 2009 @ 9:13 AM

    Hmm yummy! The ones I’ve had are a little different, but yours look really tasty.

  16. 16

    Brownies for Dinner — March 30, 2009 @ 9:44 AM

    Yum! Caramel and coconut? How could these not be delicious? Thanks for sharing the recipe and beautiful pics.

  17. 17

    Laurie — March 30, 2009 @ 9:46 AM

    Your making such good use of your dulce de leche! Those cookies look wonderful and I can see why they were a big hit at the dinner party!

  18. 18

    ingrid — March 30, 2009 @ 9:59 AM

    Yum, yum, I’ve seen those around too. Yours look very pretty with the coconut edging.
    ~ingrid

  19. 19

    jennywenny — March 30, 2009 @ 10:00 AM

    Mmm, yours look great! I tried making them and I was a little disappointed they were very cakey. I guess I associate caramel too much with crisp shortbread.

  20. 20

    Kim W. — March 30, 2009 @ 10:18 AM

    YOU ARE KILLING ME! I ate these often in Chile, but they were dipped in Chocolate. These are sooooo awesome!

  21. 21

    Lynn — March 30, 2009 @ 10:36 AM

    These are gorgeous! The Dulce de Leche looks fabulous. I love your method for making it. It looks so easy and delicious.

  22. 22

    starpower — March 30, 2009 @ 11:05 AM

    Thank you for posting this recipe.

    This is the first time I’ve seen one for alfajores. It’s a refreshing to know that I can prepare a homemade version of one of my all-time favorite treats.

    It’s interesting to see the emphasis on the bare cookie portion in this particular recipe. In Havanna-brand alfajores, which are produced in Argentina, all of the ingredients are so tightly integrated that I had never considered de-constructing them into parts (i.e., two biscuits, a dulce de leche middle layer, and a coating of bittersweet chocolate [or a white confectionary-sugar-type frosting]).

    BTW, the home page for Havanna is http://www.havanna.com.ar/. Click on “nuestros productos” to see images of their chocolate-coated alfajores.

  23. 23

    RecipeGirl — March 30, 2009 @ 11:54 AM

    Thanks starpower! I definitely would love to try dipping them in chocolate next time! That would be heaven :)

  24. 24

    Nadia — March 30, 2009 @ 1:38 PM

    I’ve done these cookies before and brought it to work potluck. They were gone in heart beat. I also tried to coat them in pecans or ther toasted nuts. Delicious.
    Yours look ver very nice. After looking at your pictures, I’m thinking about making them again.

  25. 25

    RecipeGirl's Mom — March 30, 2009 @ 1:41 PM

    Yummy cookies! Glad I was there to test them for you. Awesome pictures too!

  26. 26

    The Duo Dishes — March 30, 2009 @ 2:38 PM

    Wowzas, now that’s a sandwich of cookies there.

  27. 27

    Reeni — March 30, 2009 @ 3:46 PM

    I love dulce de leche, these look delicious!

  28. 28

    Susanne — March 30, 2009 @ 2:46 PM

    Those look AMAZING. Your photos are spectacular too! Food is hard to make look yummy in a photo, and you are a pro at that too! :)

  29. 29

    Rachelle — March 30, 2009 @ 3:10 PM

    These look good! Does the dulce de leche harden some, or does it ooze out when you bite into the cookie?

  30. 30

    Rebecca — March 30, 2009 @ 3:13 PM

    My mother used to make these when I was a child, but she had shortened the process by using ‘Nilla Wafers for the cookie part. I always ate mine without the coconut though, can’t stand it!

  31. 31

    RecipeGirl — March 30, 2009 @ 3:16 PM

    Rachelle- Dulce de leche doesn’t really harden per se, but it sets up some. Dulce is a bit thicker than caramel. It oozes a little when you take a bite but doesn’t drip out or anything. My friend brought me some alfajores from a bakery in Peru and they were little one-inch sized- perfect for one-bite treats! I made a few that were that small with this batch too.

  32. 32

    kellypea — March 30, 2009 @ 5:21 PM

    Really beautiful — the grated coconut on the side is perfect! Your dulce de leche recipe makes it all so much easier!

    Oh, and I finally remembered why I’d thought I knew about these…

  33. 33

    chefvanda — March 30, 2009 @ 5:19 PM

    Great photos! and the alfajores sound very yummy. I wish I enjoyed baking like you do!

  34. 34

    Dragon — March 30, 2009 @ 6:59 PM

    I want at least 12 of these right now. :)

  35. 35

    southern hostess — March 30, 2009 @ 8:07 PM

    These look delicious and they’re so cute!

  36. 36

    Elyse — March 30, 2009 @ 10:55 PM

    Wow, these alfajores look delicious. Anything with dulce de leche and coconut sounds perfect in my book. Mmm, mmm! I’m fascinated by this lucuma. I wonder what it tastes like.

  37. 37

    nevermindthecalories — March 31, 2009 @ 12:27 AM

    I speak neither spanish nor portuguese, but would be willing to learn it, just for those cookies! Tried them, they were amazing!
    A nice little sunny-flavour in the cold rainy dutch spring I’m stuck in =). My flatmate’s from Brazil and she loved them as well, said they taste almost like the real thing.
    thanks, great recipe!

  38. 38

    Eliana — March 31, 2009 @ 2:54 AM

    I love learning about new Latin desserts especially when they involve dulce de leche. Thank you so much for posting. These look wonderful.

  39. 39

    Amanda — March 31, 2009 @ 2:58 AM

    Wow, those look amazing!

  40. 40

    Sylvia — March 31, 2009 @ 4:30 AM

    I am glad that you like the recipe. Are the Argentines grand moms and moms usually make at home.Thank you very much

  41. 41

    Patricia Scarpin — March 31, 2009 @ 4:39 AM

    They look fantastic! I love how perfectly shaped and filled you made them.

  42. 42

    Hillary — March 31, 2009 @ 9:06 AM

    You make it look so simple! I tried alfajores when I was in Buenos Aires and these definitely look authentic!

  43. 43

    Cher — March 31, 2009 @ 10:39 AM

    LOVE the pic with the stacks of cookies and the spoonful of drizzling caramel held above the bowl of caramel! It is the BEST alfajore pic I’ve seen because it really gets you with the caramel, an important element in this cookie … moreso than a seeing a caramel filling peeking out of the sandwich. I guess, tho, if someone wanted just one picture to show “alfajores” (as opposed to illustrating steps), you would have to include a couple of the finished cookies, too … but I am loving that photo. All the photos are well done, I’m just getting off on caramel! I can’t imagine having the patience or skill to set up these shots and create the photos. Just so you know, we sure enjoy the photos accompanying the recipes!

  44. 44

    RecipeGirl — March 31, 2009 @ 11:53 AM

    Thanks Cher! Glad you enjoy the step by step. Yes, it’s a pain at times, but very helpful when explaining the process.

  45. 45

    Esi — March 31, 2009 @ 1:18 PM

    Swoon! The dulce de leche sounds amazing. This is a great idea for a party.

  46. 46

    Peter — March 31, 2009 @ 3:05 PM

    Screw Oreos…Alfajores are where it’s at. This dulce de leche ride is most welcome!

  47. 47

    Sophie — March 31, 2009 @ 5:09 PM

    These are very yummy and pretty–like little flowers. They came out flawless.

    I really love your dulce de leche tutorial!

  48. 48

    sharon — March 31, 2009 @ 6:44 PM

    A friend of mine brought me some of these from Argentina and I never dreamed I’d be able to make them on my own. Thanks for the great instructions & recipe!

  49. 49

    Girl — March 31, 2009 @ 7:52 PM

    The pictures are more and more amazing each and every time… caramel rolled in coconut speaks to my cookie loving side.

  50. 50

    Katrina — April 1, 2009 @ 9:28 AM

    These look awesome! That’s really all I can say. Awesome! ;)

  51. 51

    CakeSpy — April 1, 2009 @ 9:41 AM

    YES! I am an alfajore-addict! You just keep getting better and better!

  52. 52

    Ivy — April 1, 2009 @ 11:50 AM

    These cookies are really FANTASTIC!!!! I posted a recipe today I bookmarked from you. Sorry I had to make some changes but I had to omit the butter and eggs so I made a few changes.

  53. 53

    food librarian — April 1, 2009 @ 7:50 PM

    Oh, I love these! These are beautiful and you make everything look so simple and yet elegant!

  54. 54

    brilynn — April 2, 2009 @ 6:38 PM

    Those look awesome!
    I made alfajores a couple years back but didn’t make my ducle de leche properly, (it wasn’t thick enough) so all my alfajores were oozy. Still tasty, just not easy to eat.

  55. 55

    Jerri — April 3, 2009 @ 5:03 AM

    These look nice. And I love the new site by the way.

  56. 56

    Donna — April 3, 2009 @ 7:49 AM

    Oh, yum. these are one of my most favorite cookies, ever, ever, ever.. Usually I roll them in powdered sugar, I like this idea better.

  57. 57

    Jude — April 4, 2009 @ 7:27 AM

    Alfajores are so good especially when homemade. Love the dulce de leche filling.

  58. 58

    Kevin — April 7, 2009 @ 5:36 PM

    Those dulce de leche sandwich cookies look so good!

  59. 59

    Angie — April 24, 2009 @ 10:01 AM

    I tried these cookies last night at a Diversity Night school function. I could not wait to get home so I could find the recipe to make my own. I could have eaten the whole platter. But I decided to save some for the all the other families.

  60. 60

    biscuit lover — February 25, 2010 @ 11:26 AM

    Cant wait to try these babies out

  61. 61

    Dana — June 13, 2010 @ 12:34 AM

    These look yummy, but the kind I fell in love with are more flaky, like pie dough. By looking at recipes, I think they may be the ones that have cornstarch and flour (like these: http://www.whats4eats.com/desserts/alfajores-recipe).

    My faves so far are sold at Market Hall bakery in the Piedmont area of Oakland, CA (http://rockridgemarkethall.com/market-hall-bakery) and across the street at the Cactus Taqueria (made at neither place, but by the same woman). I also just found these in the area, but haven’t tried them yet: http://www.saborsur.com/alfajores.html

  62. 62

    Sig — June 25, 2010 @ 6:01 AM

    I’m sure these came out nicely, but if you’re going to do them the best way (the Argentine way like my grandma), they need to be much thicker and the sides HAVE to be entirely covered in dulce de leche and coconut. None of this thin strip of coconut business.

    Then they will be perfect.

  63. 63

    AKorup — September 11, 2010 @ 3:23 AM

    Hi … I make theese all the time … lovely cookies, but I roll mine in chopped dark chocolate in stead of coconut.

  64. 64

    Rachel — October 29, 2010 @ 2:04 PM

    Don’t come to Peru to try Lúcuma fruit; it’s horrible! My husband and daughter LOVE the icecream made of it (I hate it!!) but even they hate the fruit.I’ve never see anyone eating just the fruit here, it’s always used to make something else with. But, do come to Peru for everything else it has to offer (but beware of thieves).
    I’ve been here for 14 1/2 years and I’m just into making alfajores and trying to get the best recipe. My kids adore them but I can see why they are relatively expensive to buy.

  65. 65

    Lily — December 21, 2010 @ 3:48 PM

    Rachel, you’re the most bitter person I’ve heard, it said that ignorance is bold. In all countries of the world there is violence and crime, have not you noticed?, or did you live in Fantasyland?
    about the Lucuma, educate before making any comment

  66. 66

    Juliette — September 20, 2011 @ 5:03 AM

    Remember that South America steers clear of that sweetened coconut we typically use in the US. You will want to look for the finely chopped, unsweetened type that I can only ever find in bulk at stores with a large bulk food selection. My hubby hates coconut but as long as we use the South American kind, he’ll eat it. It has a drier appearance for the lack of corn syrup and it also doesn’t compete with flavor of the manjar/dulce de leche.

  67. 67

    Lori Lange — September 20, 2011 @ 2:25 PM

    yes, good point. I usually pick up the finely grated, unsweetened kind in the bins at Whole Foods.

  68. 68

    Cathy — December 15, 2011 @ 10:50 AM

    Can these cookies be made ahead & frozen? I want to add these to my Christmas cookie platters. They look delicious!

  69. 69

    Lori Lange — December 16, 2011 @ 7:26 AM

    I’d freeze them as cookies, then do the filling when you’re ready to serve them.

  70. 70

    yepa15 — June 10, 2014 @ 3:56 PM

    These are often called “alfajores de maizena”. The real and classic alfajor is like a cake, but tiny. They are made by some kind of biscuit, dulce de leche in the middle, and they are all covered by chocolatte. Look it up in Google Images, in Argentina are a lot of brands: Jorgito, Guaymayen, Havanna, Balcarse, Fantoche, Águila. And the list goes on and on. Its the favorite candy in Argentina.