There is no doubt that Alfajores are native to South America, and each country has their little spin on this delectable delight. In Argentina, they use Dulce de Leche as the filling for these cookie sandwiches. Dulce de Leche is a caramel made from reducing sweetened condensed milk.
In Peru you will find both Dulce de Leche and Manjar Blanco being used in the creation of this cookie. Manjar Blanco (loosely translates to "white food") is an incredible cross between a caramel and a pudding and can be considered the paler cousin of Dulce De Leche. The main difference in the two is that Manjar Blanco is made from whole milk rather than condensed milk.
In Bolivia, Manjar Blanco is the traditional filling for the Alfajores. However, they prepare their Manjar Blanco just a bit differently. The Bolivian style Manjar Blanco is thickened further with rice flour and occasionally you will find other flavorings in it such as vanilla, cinnamon and/or rum.
1-1/2 cups unsalted butter
1 cup confectioners' sugar
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup ground almonds
3 cups flour
Manjar Blanco Filling:
5 cups whole milk
1-1/8 cups sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1. Prepare the Manjar Blanco filling. Put the milk, sugar and vanilla in a medium saucepan and let it come to a boil. Continue to boil the mixture, stirring occasionally, until thickened, approximately 45 minutes. The Manjar is ready if you put a bit on a plate and it does not run.
2. Cream butter with confectioners' sugar until fluffy.
3. Stir in remaining ingredients.
4. Wrap and chill 30 minutes (if you leave it longer, just let it warm up to the point of being able to be rolled out).
5. Roll dough out to 1/4" thickness. Cut in 2 1/2" circles and place on parchment lined cookie sheet. They won’t expand much, so you can place them pretty close together.
6. Bake at 350° for 10-12 minutes.
7. Cool cookie sheets between batches and cool cookies on wire rack.
8. When cookies have completely cooled, carefully spread some manjar blanco on one cookie and top with another cookie.
9. Dust tops with confectioners' sugar and enjoy immediately.
TIP: Best enjoyed if served immediately. Traditional alfajores are crispy, and these (although they will still taste delicious) will soften as they set.
Yield: 4-5 dozen cookies
Recipe and photo submitted by guest contributor, Adrienne , with special thanks to a friend of a friend of hers who is native to Peru.