Creamy, sweet Manjar Blanco embedded in two almost powdery cookies, this is a traditional, absolutely delicious and addicting Peruvian Alfajor - one of the most popular sweet sensations in the country.
Alfajores are most probably an adaptation of the Arabic confection "alajú" that for centuries is made in some regions of Spain and came to Latin America with the Spanish conquerors. As back then some ingredients weren't available in the new world or too expensive, adaptations to the original recipe were necessary. So today throughout Central and South America different versions of Alfajores with numerous fillings can be found.
In Peru, the traditional Alfajor consists of two fine, crumbly almost powdery, pale cookies made of flour, cornstarch, butter and powdered sugar that are filled with Manjar Blanco, a sweat, caramel-like, sticky reduction of whole milk and sugar.
Alfajores are a delicious little goodie for in between, perfect on the coffee table, great as special treat on a buffet or a good way to end a Peruvian dinner.
Making Alfajores at home is really super simple though a little time consuming, especially if you prepare the Manjar Blanco from scratch as well. It isn’t difficult at all and once the first home-made Alfajor melts in your mouth worth every single minute. Otherwise, ready-made original Peruvian Manjar Blanco is available in Latin American (online) food stores and even on Amazon.
LimaEasy's Recipe for Peruvian Alfajores
Ingredients for the cookies:
- 150 g (1 1/5 cups) all-purpose flour
- 150 g (1 1/5 cups) cornstarch
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 50 g (2/5 cup) powdered sugar
- 200 g (7/8 cup) butter at room temperature
- 1 small egg
Ingredients for the filling:
- 220 - 240 g (a good 3/4 cup) Manjar Blanco
- some powdered sugar
- Sift together the flour, cornstarch, baking powder and powdered sugar in a bowl. Cut butter in small cubes and add to the dry ingredients. With an electric mixer incorporate the butter. Then add the egg and stir in. Flour your hands and knead to a well-combined and shiny dough.
- Roll out the dough to about 3 mm thick. Best use baking paper or cling film on the bottom and top to avoid sticking. Refrigerate the rolled-out dough with the baking paper for at least 30 minutes.
- Pre-heat oven to 170°C (335°F).
- Remove the top sheet of the baking paper from the dough. With a floured round cookie cutter cut out cookies. Cover a baking tray with baking paper and carefully place the cookies onto it. Pierce twice with a fork. Then bake for 8 – 10 minutes. The cookies are supposed to stay pale and shouldn't brown. Allow to cool.
- With all preparation work done, it’s time to make Alfajores. Spread a generous teaspoon of Manjar Blanco on a cookie and then place a second one sandwich-like on top. To avoid a mess with the sticky Manjar Blanco, you can as well fill the Manjar Blanco in a piping bag and pipe a decent amount of it onto the cookie and then top it with another. Dust the Alfajores with plenty of powdered sugar.
When using a cookie cutter with 4 cm (1.5") diameter, you can make around 80 cookies, so 40 Alfajores.