Alfajores are a kind of South American cookie popular in Peru and Argentina. This version has a touch of almond in the crisp butter cookies that sandwich the caramel filling (dulce de leche).
Dulce de leche can be found at most Latin markets and on the international aisle of well-stocked grocery stores.
Make Ahead: The cookie dough can be refrigerated for 1 week. If the dough is thoroughly chilled, allow it to sit at room temperature for 15 minutes before rolling it out. The unfilled baked cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for 3 days. Filled cookies are best eaten day the same day they are assembled, but can be kept at room temperature for 2 days.
Servings: 15 3-inch sandwich cookies
- For the cookies
- 12 ounces (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at a cool room temperature
- 1 cup confectioners' sugar
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 3 cups flour, plus more for the work surface
- 1/3 cup ground almonds
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
- For assembly
- 2 cups dulce de leche (see headnote)
For the cookies: Combine the butter and sugars in the bowl of stand mixer or hand-held electric mixer. Beat on low speed to combine, then on high speed for 5 to 7 minutes, until light and fluffy.
Whisk together the flour, ground almonds and salt in a separate bowl.
Add the vanilla and almond extracts to the butter-sugar mixture. Beat on medium speed, then reduce the speed to low and gradually add the flour-almond mixture just until incorporated; do not overmix the dough.
Wrap the dough in wax paper or place it in a large resealable plastic food storage bag and flatten it out. Refrigerate for 1 hour. If the dough is chilled longer, let it sit at room temperature for 15 minutes before rolling it out.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Have 2 ungreased baking sheets at hand and a 3-inch-round cookie cutter.
Lightly flour a work surface. Roll out the dough to thickness of 1/4 inch. (You can do this in batches, keeping the unworked portion refrigerated.) Use the 3-inch round cookie cutter for the cookies; repeat as needed to make 30 rounds of dough. The cookies will not spread so you can place them close together. Bake one sheet at a time in the middle of the oven for about 13 minutes. The cookies will not appear browned. For a nuttier, browned butter flavor, bake the cookies for a few extra minutes; watch them carefully.
Let cool on the baking sheet for about 15 minutes before transfering to a wire rack to cool completely.
To assemble: Invert half of the cookies on the work surface. Spoon 2 tablespoons of the dulce de leche on each upturned cookie. The filling will spread as it sits, but you can smooth it to the edges if it is very thick. Be gentle when spreading. Too much pressure on the delicate cookies will break them.
Top with the remaining cookies to form cookie sandwiches.
Adapted from a recipe at www.christmas-cookies.com.
Tested by Leigh Lambert.
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