This is just a quick entry. One of my regulars, a delightful Peruvian woman by the name of Lyda, dropped by today to give me some of her alfajores as a Christmas gift. Lyda is a naturopath/nurse who came to Australia a few decades ago.
An alfajor (plural alfajores) is a traditional sweet biscuit..
In South America alfajores are found most notably in Argentina, Uruguay, Ecuador, Paraguay, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Peru, Venezuela, and Brazil. Alfajores have been popular in Argentina and Uruguay since the mid-19th century. They are made with two round cookies with different sweet fillings between them. The filling is usually dulce de leche, although there are a lot of variations. They are popular around Christmas.
This is an old family recipe
- Butter (salted) 200gram (room temp)
- Icing sugar 100grms
- Egg yolks 3
- Plain flour 200grms
- Corn flour 100grms
- Coconut flour 100grms (See NOTES)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
- 2 teaspoons brandy (I used whisky did not have brandy) (See NOTES)
- 1/2 teasp lemon rind
- 1/4 teasp baking powder
- 1/4 teasp sod bicarb
- 1/ cup shredded coconut
- Preheat oven to 340F/170C.
- In a large bowl beat together the butter + sugar until smooth (no sugar grains can be felt) and creamy
- then add the eggs 1 at a time mixing until well incorporated
- add the vanilla + brandy+ lemon rind, mix all well.
- Mix dry ingredients in a different bowl and sieve to remove any lumps
- add to wet ingredients slowly (1/4 of the dry ingredients at a time) and mix well with a spoon
- empty bowl onto a (clean) bench and knead gently, do not overwork dough, shape into a ball cover with glad wrap
- keep dough in the fridge at least 2 hours before making the cookies.
- When making cookies use extra flour on the bench to prevent sticky dough.
- Bake for 7-8 minutes, or until cookies appear golden brown at the edges (they will be soft). Allow them to cool before filling them. At this stage you can store the cookies in an airtight container that has been lined with paper towel (to absorb any excess moisture)
- spread a thin layer of caramel on one cookie and press two of them together to make your alfajores.
- roll (or sprinkle them) with more coconut
These can be frozen for up to 2 months (but I doubt they’ll last that long)
Caramel paste (called Manjar Blanco in Peru)(See NOTES)
- 1 tin Nestles sweet condensed milk.
Place tin in a pot full of water and cook low to medium heat for 3 hours. Water must cover tin at all times
- if you don’t have coconut flour use a blend of 250g plain flour (not self-raising flour) mixed with 150g of corn flour
- Condensed milk is referred to as both condensed milk and sweetened condensed milk. This shelf-stable product is a form of concentrated milk in which about 60 percent of the water content has been removed, after which sugar is added before canning. Condensed milk contains 40 to 45 percent sugar.
- Manjar blanco is the equivalent of dulce de leche, cajeta or caramelised condensed milk. It can easily be purchased in various forms.
- cornstarch is made by removing the protein and fibre of the corn kernel, leaving only the starchy center called the endosperm. This is then processed into a white powder. Cornstarch can also be called cornflour but beware – check the ingredients list on the product – in Australia cornflour is often made from wheat (“corn” used to be a generic term for seeds – particularly agricultural ones)
- Lydas abuelas recipe calls for brandy. In Peru a liquor called Pisco might be called for. Pisco is a colourless or yellowish-to-amber coloured brandy produced in winemaking regions of Peru and Chile. Made by distilling fermented grape juice into a high-proof spirit, it was developed by 16th-century Spanish settlers as an alternative to orujo, a pomace brandy that was being imported from Spain. The oldest use of the word pisco to denote Peruvian aguardiente dates from 1764. The beverage may have acquired its Quechua name from the Peruvian town of Pisco, once an important colonial port for the exportation of viticultural products. Peruvian Pisco must be made in the country’s five official D.O. (Denomination of Origin) departments—Lima, Ica, Arequipa, Moquegua and Tacna (only in the valleys of Locumba Locumba, Sama and Caplina)— which was established in 1991.
- Lacoste, Pablo (2004). “La vid y el vino en América del Sur: el desplazamiento de los polos vitivinícolas (siglos XVI al XX)” [The vine and wine in South America: the displacement of the wine-growing poles (16th to 20th centuries)]. Universum (in Spanish). 19 (2). doi:10.4067/S0718-23762004000200005.
- Lydas abuela.
- “Producción de pisco marcó récord histórico en 2015” [Pisco production set a historical record in 2015]. El Comercio Perú (in Spanish). https://elcomercio.pe/economia/peru/produce-produccion-pisco-marco-record-historico-2015-noticia-1876498/ (last accessed 16.12.21)