In Lima, Peru my family has owned a bakery for more than 30 years. My great great aunt, who was the head baker and holder of all our family’s recipes, would come visit our family in the United States about once a year. She’d always spend a day or two in the kitchen, her favorite place, showing us how to bake some of her favorite Peruvian treats. These cookies were always my absolute favorite.
These cookies are a basic shortbread cookie filled with manjar blanco. (The rest of South America calls it dulce de leche, while Central Americans call it cajeta.) This recipe is tad bit different from the one she taught me how to make. I use butter instead of margarine and skip the need for corn starch (I’ve never been a fan). The manjar blanco usually calls for one to stand at the stove top, stirring and stirring until it transforms into a beautiful caramel color. Since I’m a lover of a shortcut or two, I opt to boil the entire can of sweetened condensed milk for a few hours. When it’s opened, the milk will have transformed into manjar blanco. It’s pretty magical.
I will give you a heads up that boiling a whole can may be a bit strange. I’ve done it a dozen times and have never had a problem, but it does make some people nervous. My tip is to make sure you fill it up every 15 minutes or so; the can should never be cooking in the pot without water. And, before opening the can make sure it’s cooled to room temperature. That’s it. I hope you enjoy these alfajores–they’re some of favorites to make at this time of year.
- 1 can sweetened condensed milk (label removed)
- 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract done
- 1 tablespoon powdered sugar (for garnish)
- In a large pot, fill with water to cover the can of sweetened condensed milk. Over high heat, bring to a boil. Let simmer for 2 1/2 to 3 hours, making sure to add more water as necessary. Remove the can of dulce de leche from the water and let cool to room temperature.
- Preheat oven to 350˙F. In a medium bowl combine flour and salt. In a stand-up mixer cream together butter, sugar and vanilla extract for 3-4 minutes, mixture will turn light and fluffy. As mixer is going, add in flour mixture and mix until combined. Shape into a disc, wrap in plastic and
- refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- On a heavily floured surface, roll out the dough to 1/2-inch thickness. The dough will be a little sticky so be sure to flour your roller, too. Using a 1 1/2-inch round cutter, cut out shortbread cookies and place on baking sheet. Poke a series of three holes, using a fork, in the center of each cookie.
- Transfer cookies to oven and bake for 10-12 minutes, or until edges are slightly golden brown. Let cool on wire rack. To assemble the sandwiches, open the can of dulce de leche. Lay half of the shortbread cookies bottom-side up. Spread about 1/2 teaspoon of dulce de leche on one half of the cookies. Top with the other half and lightly press down until you’ve gone through all the cookies. Dust with powdered sugar.
Yield: 25 sandwich cookies
Adrianna Adarme is a food blogger and author living in Los Angeles, California. She writes the blog A Cozy Kitchen, where she shares comforting, everyday recipes from her kitchen. She recently authored her first cookbook, PANCAKES: 72 Sweet and Savory Recipes for the Perfect Stack. She’s a lover of breakfast, pie (and sometimes even pie for breakfast), corgis and cute things. You can find her on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook.