On April 30 2013 our new king Willem Alexander was crowned. In honor of his Argentinian wife and queen (Maxima loves dulce de leche!) I decided to make these typically Argentinian cookies. Making the filling for these cookies is an adventure in itself. A can of condensed milk in a pan of boiling water slowly transforms itself into a heavenly gooey caramel. Because of the growing popularity of this treat, you can also buy it ready made in some supermarkets. It is so tempting to keep dipping in and having just a little bit more that is a miracle that I finished up with enough dulce de leche to sandwich between the cookies. But restraining yourself does pay off because this alfamore cookie is are delicious! The 2 thin crunchy cookies with the caramel sandwiched in between are dipped into shredded coconut. Alfajore is Arabic for luxury or exquisite. Originally alfajores are a Spanish/Moorish treat made out of honey and almonds. Very different from the cookie that is now so popular in many South America countries. Every country has it’s own version of this sandwiched cookie. In Uruguay they often dip the alfajore cookie in chocolate and the Peruvian version of alfajores is filled with a different type of caramel or jam and is just sprinkled with icing sugar.
If you like chocolate and coffee, you should try my own variation chocolate and coffee alfajores cookies.
Alfajores cookies with dulce de leche from Argentina for Queen Maxima
for about 25 cookies
1 can of sweetened condensed milk (around 390 grams)
125 grams cornstarch
175 grams flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
165 grams unsalted soft butter
50 grams sugar
3 egg yolks
1 tablespoon rum
grated rind of ½ lemon
50 grams dessicated coconut
For the dulce de leche
Place a can of condensed milk in a saucepan and fill the pan with water up to 3/4 of the can. Place a lid on the pan en bring to a boil. Remove the wrapper as soon as it lets loose to prevent a mess… Leave to boil softly for about 3 hours. Check regularly to see if there still is enoug water in the pan. Some recipes say you have to make a few holes in the top of the can to prevent it from exploding. It never happened to me and I have been making this for a couple of years. Take the can out of the water and let it cool.
For the biscuits
Sift the cornstarch, the flour, the baking powder and the salt into a big bowl. In another bowl beat the butter and the sugar light and creamy. Beat in the egg yolks one by one. Then beat in the rum and the lemon rind. Beat in half of the flour mixture. Tip in the rest of the flour and quickly knead into a ball with your hands. The less time you handle the dough, the crunchier the cookies will turn out. Flatten the ball into a disc and wrap in clingfilm. Leave to rest in the fridge for about 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 180 °C (350 °F). Roll out the dough to 1/4 cm and cut into small rounds (∅ 5 cm) with a small glass of a cookie cutter. I used my ravioli cutter with a cute crinkled edge. Gather the rest of the dough together and repeat until all the dough is used up. Put the dough rounds on a cookie sheet lined with baking paper. They do not spread much. and bake in the middle of the oven for about 10 min. They should be cooked through but still be fairly light.
Leave the cookies on the cookie sheet to cool. Put the coconut in a small bowl. Put a dollop of dulce de leche on the bottom side of 1 cookie and press a second cookie on top. Roll the edges through the coconut.
Note: Fill the cookies not to long before you serve these cookies. The dulce de leche tends to drip out after a while. I put a few alfajores in the freezer to see what would happen. To my amazement they taste great! You can eat them while they are still frozen. The cookie stays nice and crunchy and the dulce de leche is deliciously cold.
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