I can’t remember where I was, but somewhere in my online world I saw a mention of someone baking Alfajores and my curiosity got the better of me. I’m forever grateful for that.
These lovely caramel sandwiches are found throughout South America with every country claiming their own version. Traditionally served after Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve, they feature that wonderful treat Dulce de Leche, the famed milky caramel that also has umpteen regional variations.
Depending on which cook or author you consult, Alfajores can be iced, covered in meringue, dipped in coconut, or left plain. I like them plain, because it’s the caramel I want. Still, if you want to dip a few in crushed nuts – pistachios or flaked almonds would be nice – then go right ahead.
I won’t give you the full recipe for Dulce de Leche, because it does take a little while to make. I bought ready made caramel, or for a cheaper option you can use a tin of condensed milk, poured into a bowl, set over a double boiler of simmering water and cooked slowly over an hour until it is golden brown and so thick you can stand a spoon in it.
These would be an outstanding gift for your loved ones and you can make the biscuits ahead of schedule, store them or freeze them, ready to be sandwiched and packaged up. While they are often bigger – about 6-7cm in diameter – I have made dainty 5cm biscuits which make far prettier gifts. Of course, it’s up to you. Either way, you won’t stop at one.
Adapted from a recipe by Feast Magazine
Makes 30 filled biscuits.
- 2¼ cups (400g) plain flour
- 50g (¼ cup) pure icing sugar
- 250g butter, cubed
- 1 star anise, finely crushed with a mortar and pestle
- 1 egg plus 1 egg yolk
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- 380g tin ready made caramel OR condensed milk (which you have cooked to make caramel)
- ¼ cup finely chopped pistachios or flaked almonds (optional)
Place the flour, icing sugar and cubes of butter in the bowl of a food processor and blitz until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Add ½ tsp of the finely crushed star anise to the mixture and pulse briefly to combine.
Add the eggs and vanilla extract to the flour mixture and process until the mixture comes together in a ball. Turn the dough out onto a clean bench top and flatten the dough a little, then wrap in clingwrap and chill in the fridge for 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 180°C (fan-forced). Line a baking sheet with baking paper and set aside.
Lightly flour the bench top and roll out the pastry to 5mm thick. Cut 5cm rounds from the dough and place the disks on the baking sheet. Refrigerate for 30 minutes before putting them in the oven.
Bake for 15 minutes until the biscuits are lightly golden. Transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely. If you want to make these ahead of schedule, freeze the unfilled cooked biscuits in an airtight container for up to one month.
Fit a piping bag with a plain nozzle, then fill the bag with the caramel. Pipe caramel over 30 biscuits then sandwich with the remaining biscuits. If you want to, dip the biscuits in a small bowl of finely chopped nuts so they stick to the caramel. Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
$8.00 for 30 filled biscuits