Best alfajores recipe (2024)

Published:byPaula Montenegro

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These alfajores are made from two soft, cornstarch cookies that are filled with gooey dulce de leche (a caramel-like spread). They're sweet with a melt-in-your-mouth quality. This is the most traditional and perfect recipe of them all. If you never had alfajores, you're in for a treat.

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Best alfajores recipe (1)

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Originally published in 2012, the text and images in this post have been updated to serve you better. The recipe remains the same.

Alfajores can be found in many different variations, including different fillings, coatings, and shapes.

They are often served with coffee or tea and are a popular snack or dessert.

The oldest is the cornstarch alfajores here today.

I know alfajores

I'm from Argentina and, as I told you in the post aboutWalnut Alfajores, we are the biggest consumers of these sweet snacks worldwide.

So trust me when I say that as far as traditional cornstarch alfajores go, this is theonly recipe you'll ever need.

The original hails from a 90-year-oldCookbook from Doña Petrona(our own Julia Child) and is still the recipe we all adapt. Sort of like the chocolate chip cookies recipe from Toll House. It's where they all start, isn't it?

Overall, the combination of delicate texture, subtle flavor, and sweet filling and coating is what makes cornstarch alfajores so delicious and beloved by many people.

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What are alfajores?

An alfajor (singular) is a sandwich made of two discs of dough with a filling in between. A sandwich cookie, or a wagon wheel with a different filling, depending on what type of alfajor.

Alfajores have a unique combination of textures and flavors. They are delicate yet rich, crumbly yet creamy, and sweet yet balanced.

They are very popular inSouth America, Specialy Argentina, Peru, and Uruguay.

The most in-demand are probably chocolate alfajores because they're chocolate-covered. Then shortbread alfajores which are usually small and great for tea time, with a cup of coffee, or as finger food at a celebration.

ALL are filled with dulce de leche unless specified.

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Ingredient list

  • Cornstarch:it's essential for that crumbly texture.
  • Unsalted butter.
  • White granulated sugar.
  • Eggs:large, fresh.
  • All-purpose flour.
  • Salt: I like to usekosher saltwhen baking. Butregular table saltworks just fine.
  • Baking powder:make sure it's active and not expired.
  • Vanilla- I usepure vanilla extractorpure vanilla pastewhen available, but a goodvanilla essence (artificially flavored)also works.
  • Lemon zest:freshly grated. A small amount is needed.
  • Cognac:you can also use brandy or whisky. It evaporates during baking and leaves behind a wonderful flavor. If you don't want alcohol, omit it.
  • Caramel sauce:we're using it as a filling so we need the thicker kind. I always useDulce de Milk shelter cacalin.

About the liquor:this recipe has a magic flavoring trio that is lemon, vanilla, and cognac (or brandy, or whisky). The synergy that results when combining these three flavors is one for the books. None of them is the star buttogether they are magic.

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Magic flavoring

I specifically want to acknowledge the flavoring in this recipe.

  • It has3 components: lemon zest, vanilla extract, and cognac (or brandy).

Though there is nothing special about them, when you add all three to a recipe in the right proportionsthe result is fantastic!

None shine on its own but there is a deep, caramel, fresh flavor that I think is unmatched.

It's not vanilla, it's not lemon, it's not caramel, it is magic. Maybe that's stretching it a bit? Well, you can be the judge of that.

It reminds me of the flavor of red velvet cake. What does it taste like? What is so special about it? It simply has a fabulous flavor. This flavor trio reminds me of that.

How to make the cornstarch dough

The alfajores dough is a simple vanilla dough with cornstarch. It sounds easy and it is. It's all about the right proportions of flour and cornstarch.

  • By hand:I use a large bowl and a whisk and a spatula. If the butter is soft, mixing everything is simple.
  • Electric mixer:you can use a handheld mixer but make sure you use it at low speed. This is not a dough that needs beating or anything like it. If you use a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, mix at the lowest speed.

The final dough is soft to the touch and neither sticky nor dry. It needs to be refrigerated before rolling.

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Rolling the dough

After refrigerating the dough for a few hours, it's time to roll and cut.

This dough is soft and very easy to manage. So a lightly floured counter and a good rolling pin are all you need.

Cookie cutters:I use a small round cutter, which is the traditional shape of an alfajor. The dough doesn't change much during baking, and the cookies will mostly keep their shape, so you can, technically, use other forms. Still, I recommend using simple patterns.

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Baking the cookies

  • Preheated oven:always make sure it's on before you start rolling the dough. If you forgot, place the sheets in the fridge while the oven gets to the desired temperature.
  • Preparing the cookie sheets:I use parchment paper or lightly buttered sheets, both work well.
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You should leave space between the rounds, but not much since the cookies won't expand a lot.

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These are light-colored, delicate cookies so bake until barely starting to color. Don't be tempted to bake them longer as they will be too crisp and won't soften as they should.

What is sweet milk?

Dulce de Milk Isa sweet milk jam, a cousin to caramel, made with milk, sugar, and baking soda, the latter being accountable for its dark color.

It takes a few hours to make and there are as many tips and tricks as there are grandmothers in this country. Each with its own recipe.

We have an abundance of commercial brands and styles, pretty much like peanut butter in the US, so we hardly make it at home.

The flavor is very sweet,similar to caramel but not quite. It does have a milk undertone, something that caramel lacks, and some might say it’s not as sophisticated, and they might be right. I’m a raving fan so my opinion is biased.

IMPORTANT:for fillings, you need to use what we callDulce de Milk Pastry.It's much thicker than the regular kind. Look for the wordPastry chefon the label. The best one available online (that we also use here!) isDulce de Milcin cowlin. Another good one isVeronica Dulce de Milk. If you want to buy in bulk a great one isSan Ignacio Reposter (22 pounds)orVacalin repostero (22 pounds).

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Fillingthe Alfajores

The traditional filling was, is, and will always be dulce de leche.

Piping bag:you can use it with asmooth, plain piping tipfor a more even filling, or use a teaspoon and get more of an irregular filling.

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Use a teaspoon or a piping bag for this part. If you pipe the dulce de leche it will be neater and you probably won't need to smooth out the edges.

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Pass the bottom of a teaspoon around the edges. This will even out the dulce de leche that overflowed when you pressed down the top cookie and make it easier for the coconut to adhere. You can skip this step of course, but the alfajores will be easier to handle.

Rolling

Rolling the sides in unsweetened shredded coconut is the way these beauties roll.

Coconut and dulce de leche are a match made in heaven. Truly spectacular!

Ccoconut border: this step, on the other hand, is completely optional in my opinion. It pairs fantastically with the rest of the ingredients, but alfajores are also amazing without it. So, don't buy shredded coconut just for this.

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Kitchen notes

  • Organization:read the recipe first and ensure you have ingredients at the correct temperature, equipment, and enough workspace. This will make the process so much easier.
  • Baking time:keep in mind that all ovens and pans are different, even if they look similar. The baking time in my recipes is as accurate as it can be, but it might take you more or less time. You can use a thermometer(like theOXO oven thermometer) to check that your oven is at the right temperature. I recommend you keep track of how your oven works and what tiny details you might need to adjust.
  • Make-ahead:as with most cookie doughs, it can be made ahead and kept for 4-5 days in the refrigerator or up to a month in the freezer. Always make sure you wrap it well in clingy plastic. Otherwise, the top layer will dry out.
  • Storage:the cookies can be kept in an airtight container for about a week. Fill them several hours ahead of the time you're planning to eat them so they have time to soften a little. Take into account that the dulce de leche transfers moisture to the cornstarch cookies and they will be softer when you bite into them.
  • Eat them and be very happy.
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Variations & substitutions

  • Don't use liquor:though I recommend using it, omit it if you can't use it. Add ½ a teaspoon more vanilla extract.
  • Rolling:coconut is the traditional ingredient, but you can roll them in finely ground nuts or leave them plain.
  • Fillings:being simple cornstarch cookies with an indefinite flavor, you can use different fillings like nut butter, buttercream, or a light ganache. Still, I highly encourage you to try them with dulce de leche first.

I sure do hope you try this recipe for cornstarch alfajores.

It is easy and they are incredibly delicious. I imagine many of you never tried them, so trust me when I say the flavor is amazing and that they will become a favorite fast.

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Related recipes you might like:

  • Easy Walnut Alfajores Recipe
  • Homemade Dulce de Milk
  • Dulce de Milk Brownies
  • Easy Oatmeal Walnut Cookies

Let me know in the comments below if you made this recipe andloved it and if you had issues so we can troubleshoot together. I love to hear what you think, always. Thanks for being here. It's much appreciated.
You might alsoconsider subscribingto our FREEBaking the Bestemail series and our regular newsletter. Or connect viaFacebook,Instagram,andPinterest.

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Best alfajores recipe (19)

Alfajores recipe

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Alfajores are classic dulce de leche sandwich cookies from South America. Two soft, cornstarch rounds are filled with this gooey caramel-like spread and rolled in coconut. They're sweet with a melt-in-your-mouth quality. This is the best alfajores recipe from Argentina, an easy and authentic family recipe we've been making for decades. Also, check out ourshortbread-style alfajores.

  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: about 50 small rounds

Ingredients

  • 11 tablespoons(150g) of unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup(200g) regular white sugar (not powdered sugar)
  • 2egg yolks, at room temperature
  • 1egg, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespooncognac (or brandy or whiskey)
  • 1 cup(140g) all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups(250g) cornstarch
  • ½ teaspoonbaking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • A few drops of vanilla extract
  • Zest oflemon
  • 1 cupof Dulce de leche (it should be the thick type or 'repostero')See Notes below
  • Unsweetened shredded coconut, for garnish(optional)

Instructions

  1. Mixbutter and sugar in a large bowl, until very creamy, using a spatula or handheld mixer, or a wooden spoon.
  2. Addegg yolks and whole egg and mix well to incorporate.
  3. Addcognac, vanilla, and lemon zest. Mix well.
  4. Addthe sifted flour, baking powder, salt, and cornstarch gradually, mixing very well until no streaks of dry ingredients remain. The final dough will be very soft and silky but not sticky.
  5. Patit into a disc, wrap the dough in plastic wrap or freezer sheets, and let it rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes, like any sweet dough. At this point, it can be refrigerated for 3 days or frozen for a month, always well wrapped to prevent dryness.
  6. Preheatoven to 170ºC / 325ºF.
  7. Ona floured surface, roll dough to ½ cm thick (about ¼ inch).
  8. Usinga round cookie cutter, cut circles and place them on a buttered cookie tray or use a Silpat. In my experience, they tend to stick when using parchment paper, but then, all papers are different depending on where you live. Thickness and size are totally up to you; I suggest you try different combinations and see which one works best for your taste.
  9. Gatherthe scraps, roll them again and cut more alfajores cookies until you use up all the dough.
  10. Bakefor 10-12 minutes or until barely starting to color. Let cool completely on a wire rack.
  11. Puta tablespoon of dulce de leche (with a spoon or with a piping bag) and fill one round, flat side up. Press lightly with another round, flat side down forming the alfajores.
  12. Withthe back of a small spoon, wipe any dulce de leche that has overflowed. This will leave a path for the coconut to stick.
  13. Putunsweetened coconut on a small plate and roll the alfajores so that they're evenly coated. Or leave the sides plain.
  14. Eat them and be happy.

Notes

  • Organization:read the recipe first and ensure you have ingredients at the correct temperature, equipment, and enough workspace. This will make the process so much easier.
  • Baking time:keep in mind that all ovens and pans are different, even if they look the same or very similar. The baking time in my recipes is as accurate as it can be, but it might take you more or less time. You can use a thermometer that is placed inside the oven (like theOXO oven thermometer) to check that your oven is at the right temperature. I recommend you keep track of how your oven works and what tiny details you might need to adjust.
  • Make-ahead:as with most cookie doughs, it can be made ahead and kept for 4-5 days in the refrigerator or up to a month in the freezer. Always make sure you wrap it well in clingy plastic. Otherwise, the top layer will dry out.
  • Keeping:the cookies keep well in an airtight container for about a week. Fill them several hours ahead of time so they have time to soften a little. Take into account that the dulce de leche transfers moisture to the cornstarch cookies, softening them a little. And it's a good thing.
  • Caramel sauce:the type of dulce de leche you use is everything if you want the filling not to leak after you assemble the alfajores. We use what is called 'repostero' which loosely translates to pastry dulce de leche, because it's used for baking and confections. It's thickened, similar to peanut butter, so it will never drip. The best brand isDulce de Milk cowlin, which you can buy online and is the one most of us use here. I highly recommend it.
  • Size and thickness:they can be made as small 2-inch rounds or up to 4 inches. Play around with size and thickness until you find your favorite.
  • Fillings:when you say alfajores it's implied that they will have a dulce de leche filling. But you can use jams or ganache or cookie butter spreads, or nut butter. In that case, we specify the filling when we name them, like quince jam alfajores, or chocolate mousse alfajores.
  • Here's a great recipe forGluten-Free Alfajoresin case you need it.
  • Author: Paula Montenegro
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Category: Cookies
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: Argentinian
Best alfajores recipe (20)

AboutPaula Montenegro

I'm Paula, a baker for more than 30 years and your designated recipe developer, sharing the best ones here with simple ingredients + easy-to-follow instructions.

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  1. DWC says

    I just made these cookies and they came out perfectly and super delicious!! The coconut brought them up to another level so it’s a must. I did make mine small because I like bite size cookies so I used a 1.5” cutter and it worked great. Thanks for the fantastic recipe!!

    Reply

  2. Denise J Ragozzino says

    These were the most delicious cookies! I made them for my son-in-law from Brazil. But I am wondering if I should freeze them or refrigerate 8 days until Xmas?

    Reply

    • Paula Montenegro says

      Hi Denise! Happy to know you loved them. You can keep the assembled alfajores or the unfilled cornstarch cookies on a tin, airtight container or wrapped to avoid drying out. The dough can be kept refrigerated for several days or frozen for a month, well wrapped. Happy baking.

      Reply

  3. Vanessa says

    This is a great recipe. They were so good. I will definitely make them again. My husband loved them. Thank you.

    Reply

  4. Eia says

    Such an easy recipe to follow. I got the Dulce De Leche as recommended, it was divine and was what made the cookies so addicting! It was from Argentina after all. My son requested that I make this for him and he packed all the left overs. Glad this made enough for the family to enjoy and then some. Thank you for sharing! It will be a staple in my baking collection from here on.

    Reply

    • Paula Montenegro says

      So happy to know you loved these alfajores Eia, we're crazy about them here! The right dulce de leche is key to success. Have a great week.

      Reply

  5. Yasmin says

    They are easy and very good , love this recipe

    Reply

  6. Tony Romano says

    Hi paula,

    My name is Tony located in Puerto Rico. I would like to thank you for the Alfajores cookies recipe. I have never tasted this type of cookie befor and we loved it. Please if you kindly put me on your email list for additional future recipes I certainly would be appreciated. I will be looking forward to hear from you on future great recipes. Have a good weekend.
    Best regards,
    Tony Romano
    Email:tonyr8545@gmail.com

    Reply

    • Paula Montenegro says

      Thanks for letting me know Tony! Greetings from Buenos Aires. I added you to the newsletter and you'll receive my baking series email sequence besides our regular newsletters. Have a great weekend.

      Reply

  7. Mary says

    I will try to do this Saturday, May 13, 2023

    Reply

  8. Karina says

    Hi Paula! Can these be baked, filled and stored air tight the day before being served?

    Reply

    • Paula Montenegro says

      Hi Karina! Yes, they can. They might soften a little as the dulce de leche moistens the cookies. Some people like it more that way. Use a container with a lid. I personally like metal tins. In pastry shops, they have them on plates with glass domes on top. Don't refrigerate them.

      Reply

  9. Mary says

    Hi there - I'm excited to try this recipe - they look amazing! Question: do these work well for being covered in chocolate, or would you recommend a non-constarch dough?

    Reply

    • Paula Montenegro says

      Hi Mary! The chocolate-covered alfajores have a different, non-cornstarch dough. These will be too fragile I think. You can drizzle chocolate over them.
      But dipping or covering them completely might be too much.

      Reply

      • Mary says

        Ok that's good to know! Do you have a suggestion for a non cornstarch recipe by chance? I'm still planning on trying these as is - they look divine!!

  10. Shai C says

    This recipe is amazing!!! I was wondering, can the recipe be cut in half?

    Reply

    • Paula Montenegro says

      Hi Shai! Yes, it can.

      Reply

  11. Mac says

    I agree these are the best Paula! I had them once years ago and didn’t think I could make them at home so easily. I used dulce de leche made from the Can and it was a tad fluid but we ate the whole plate nonetheless so there’s that. A huge success.

    Reply

    • Paula Montenegro says

      Thank you Mac! We love them also. You can buy the right dulce de leche online. There’s a list in the post. Have a great week.

      Reply

  12. Linda Crawford says

    Please mention that these are different from Peruvian and that they will taste like cornstarch. Sad and disappointed.

    Reply

    • Paula Montenegro says

      Hi Linda, why should I explain that they're not Peruvian when I NEVER implied they were?
      I talk about being from Argentina, about the recipe being from an Argentine book and author, and the alfajores themselves being cornstarch cookies filled with dulce de leche. And I repeat it throughout the post. You're sad and disappointed about your idea of what this post should be. Have a good day.

      Reply

    • Jenn says

      What do you mean they will taste like cornstarch? People rave about these cookies and I cannot imagine if they taste like cornstarch that people would like them.

      Reply

      • Paula Montenegro says

        Hi Jenn, I don't say they will taste like cornstarch, but they're cornstarch-based which makes them crumbly and with a unique texture and flavor. I do specify that because there are many types of alfajores.
        I have others posted as Dulce de Leche Cookies that are shortbread-style alfajores you might like more if you're unsure about the cornstarch.

  13. Corine Pevny says

    Hi Paula, my mom, sister and I were actually disappointed with this recipe. The aljafares tasted like cornstarch. We even sifted it so it wouldn't be too heavy. Every other recipe we've looked at have half to almost half of the amount in your recipe. We've had delicious aljafares, and they didn't ever taste like cornstarch. Sorry....we won't be making these again.

    Reply

    • Paula Montenegro says

      Hi Corine, they taste like cornstarch because they ARE cornstarch alfajores, something I state throughout the post.
      You don't like this recipe and that's acceptable. But if you read the comments, dozens of people loved them. Personal taste is that, personal. I hope you find another recipe that suits your taste. Have a great day.

      Reply

  14. Marta Petaccia says

    Your alfajores are the best! I can say, being from Argentina also, that you bake the most authentic recipe. Well done Paula, you are my inspiration!!

    Reply

    • Paula Montenegro says

      Thanks Marta! Happy to know you feel that way. Have a great 2023!

      Reply

  15. David Scott Allen says

    I have been making your alfajores for years, Paula! They are absolutely the best — I can’t even look at another recipe as yours is perfect. Happy New Year!

    Reply

    • Paula Montenegro says

      I LOVE that you only use this recipe David! Hope 2023 is the best ever for you and Mark!

      Reply

  16. Nadia says

    I've made these tonight.
    I put 170g of sugar and it was still too sweet. It'll be even sweeter once the caramel is added.

    When the author says don't be tempted to leave them in the oven longer, DONT DO IT! First two batches were in the oven ( Fan 150-155C ) for 14-ish minutes, they are more crunchy, although still crumbly and lovely, but the third batch is sooo soft and melts in your mouth. Yum.
    Turns out I didn't have the caramel and dessicated coconut, so I packed them into an airtight container for now.

    Reply

  17. Erika says

    I don't have coñac,brandy,or whiskey.how a substitute?i have a rum!!

    Reply

    • Paula Montenegro says

      Hi Erika! Use rum or no alcohol and an extra half teaspoon of vanilla.

      Reply

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