Delicate, melt-in-your-mouth Alfajores are a traditional South American sandwich cookie. Brimming with creamy dulce de leche filling and rolled in coconut (or not), this easy alfajores recipe is one of my favorites for holiday baking. I just know you’ll love them too!
One of the best things about cooking and baking is the ability to feel like you’re experiencing the delicacies of another country – in the comfort of your own kitchen! Today, we’re taking a trip to South America with these easy alfajores cookies, made from scratch.
These sandwich cookies have seriously delicious flavor. They melt in your mouth thanks to a creamy dulce de leche filling and tender, shortbread cookie texture. Rolled in coconut, alfajores are a dreamy and easy cookie recipe that you’ll be coming back to again and again!
What Are Alfajores?
Alfajores – pronounced alfa-hor-ays – are a traditional cookie confection popular in South America, made with a dulce de leche filling and often rolled in coconut. Essentially a wagon wheel cookie with a different kind of filling, alfajores are also referred to as dulce de leche sandwich cookies.
This recipe is for the traditional cornstarch shortbread alfajor, with sides coated in coconut.
Here is the list of ingredients you’ll need for this alfajores recipe. You will notice this is a more shortbread-style cookie with no eggs, egg yolks, or leavening agent like baking powder or baking soda. The full ingredient list and recipe can be found at the bottom of this post.
Butter: Unsalted butter or salted butter can be used in this recipe. I used salted, but it’s a personal preference.
Cornstarch: A necessary ingredient for the cornstarch shortbread discs that make up these sandwich cookies.
All Purpose Flour
Powdered Sugar: For dusting.
How to Make Alfajores Cookies
These traditional cookies are surprisingly simple to prepare and bake. There are only a handful of steps:
Prep the Dough: First, cream the butter and granulated sugar together in a mixing bowl with your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Then add the vanilla, salt, and cornstarch. Slowly add in the flour until combined.
Chill the Dough: You’ll need to refrigerate the dough for at least 2 hours, or overnight. Divide the dough into halves and roll these into logs, then wrap each in plastic wrap before placing them in the fridge. Dividing the dough into two batches helps the dough stay firm when you’re cutting it later!
Cut & Bake: Using a sharp knife, slice the first dough log into rounds about a quarter inch in thickness. Due to space constraints, you may have to cut and bake one log at a time! Place the dough rounds on a lined baking sheet and bake in a preheated oven until the edges are slightly golden. Transfer the baked cookies to a wire rack to cool and repeat with the second dough log as needed. Alternately you could roll the dough out and use a small round cookie cutter to make perfectly round cookies.
Assemble: Carefully spread or pipe the dulce de leche onto one half the cookies, then press the other half of the cookies on top of the filling, forming sandwiches.
You can give these alfajores a dusting with powdered sugar, enjoy them plain, or see my suggestions below for variations and decorating!
Tips for Success
Measure Your Flour Correctly: Too much flour is the most common mistake when baking. Use a scale if you have one! If you don’t, you can use the “scoop and sweep” method; spoon the flour into your measuring cup, and use a butter knife to level it.
Make Your Own Dulce de Leche: As mentioned above, it’s easy to make your own dulce de leche at home by cooking down condensed milk. You can even use my easy recipe for Instant Pot Dulce De Leche to save time and effort!
Avoid Overfilling: These are soft and delicate cookies, so bear this in mind when filling them and avoid loading on too much dulce de leche.
It’s common practice to roll Alfajores cookies in shredded coconut or desiccated coconut. It isn’t mandatory, but it is delicious! You can also dip them in chocolate or otherwise decorate them to your liking. While switching out the dulce de leche will no longer make these cookies “alfajores” by definition, you can definitely try these cookies with different fillings. Here are some ideas:
Fruit jams or berry coulis
Add a little lemon zest to the cookie it self if you like a citrus bite!
How to Store Alfajores
Alfajores can be stored airtight at room temperature for up to 5 days. If you’ve rolled them in coconut, you can stack them vertically (similar to Oreo cookies) and then roll them in parchment paper to protect and store them.
Can I Freeze These?
Homemade alfajores can be stored in an airtight freezer safe container and kept frozen for up to 30 days. Thaw the cookies at room temperature before serving.
Delicate and delicious Alfajores are a traditional South American sandwich cookie. Brimming with creamy dulce de leche filling and rolled in coconut (or not), this easy alfajores recipe is one of my favorites for holiday baking.
1 cup butter, room temperature
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup cornstarch
2 cups all purpose flour
1 (11.5 ounce) jar dulce de leche
1/4 cup powdered sugar for dusting
Prep and chill the dough:
Cream butter and sugar. In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle mix the butter and granulated sugar together on medium speed for 2 minutes until combined.
Add in the vanilla, salt, and cornstarch. Mix until evenly incorporated, scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary.
Add flour. Turn the mixer to low and slowly add in the flour until combined.
Divide the dough in half and roll into logs 2- inches in diameter. Wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or overnight.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line your baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
Remove one of the dough logs from the refrigerator. Using a sharp knife, slice into 1/4- inch rounds.
Place on the prepared baking sheet 1- inch apart (the cookies don’t spread while baking). Bake for 8 – 10 minutes until the edges are slightly golden. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat with the remaining dough. Allow the cookies to cool completely.
Spread or pipe 1 teaspoon of dulce de leche onto the bottom side of half the cookies. Press the other half of the cookies on top of each, forming sandwiches.
Dust with powdered sugar.
Store airtight at room temperature for up to 5 days.
Freeze airtight for up to 30 days. Thaw at room temperature.
Keywords: alfajores cookies, christmas cookies, sandwich cookies