The cornstarch alfajores are a typical recipe from Peru, Chile, and Argentina, that then spread to all of South America.
They are very simple and easy to prepare.
Very similar to cornstarch cookies, they are mainly distinguished by being sandwiched together in pairs with dulce de leche in Argentina, or Manjar blanco in Peru or Chile, (Don’t be confused, both things are the same, just change the name in each Latin American countries) creating a delicious and sweet treat, similar to Chilean alfajores, whose dough is made without corn starch, so they have a different texture.
Tips for preparing peruvian alfajores:
Mix all the dry ingredients together and then sift them, as corn starch is very dry and fine, which could result in lumps.
The butter should be at room temperature. If it’s not, you can fill a large bowl with boiling water, let the bowl heat up for a few minutes, carefully empty it, and then place it upside down over the butter (like a bell). After a few minutes, the butter should become significantly softer due to the heat radiated by the bowl.
If desired, you can replace orange zest with lemon zest or add 1 tablespoon of aromatic liqueur like Cointreau, Amaretto, or Triple Sec.
When adding the dry ingredients, it’s better to do it with your hands, gently combining everything without kneading. If you want the cookie layers of these alfajores to be neat, I recommend rolling out the dough to the desired thickness, wrapping it in plastic wrap, and refrigerating it until it becomes firm. The time will depend on the thickness and the refrigerator’s temperature, but it should be around 30 minutes. Then, immediately cut out the circles and bake them while still “frozen” to prevent cracking and achieve more “perfect” circles. Avoid the cookies getting golden brown when baking, as they could become hard. The cookies should be completely cold before removing them from the baking sheet or handling them since they are delicate when hot.
What is manjar blanco?
The caramel sauce was born as a way to preserve milk for longer, in a similar way to a jam we will cook cow’s milk with white sugar over very low heat for a lot of time(in a proportion of 3 cups of milk for 1 cup of sugar) until obtaining the consistency of thick caramel.
Luckily it is no longer necessary to do this process and we can find in grocery stores this ready-made delight throughout Latin America or the United States or prepare it at home using sweetened condensed milk. It must be said that this paste has different names in different countries, the two main ones being delicacy or dulce de leche (which differs by having a little vanilla extract).
How long do cornstarch alfajores last, and how to store them?
Once our alfajores are ready, we can store them in a cookie tin or an airtight container with a paper napkin at the bottom (to absorb moisture) for up to one week. Is best if you store the alfajores cookies without the creamy dulce de leche, so the cookie dough remains dry and with in best texture.
Alfajores are delicious sandwich cookies with manjar, an easy recipe for the best sweet snacks.
- 4.4 oz 125 grams salted butter, at room temperature
- 5.3 oz 150 grams powdered sugar
- 3 egg yolks
- 1 tablespoon rum or amaretto both work deliciously
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup cornstarch
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- Zest of 1 orange
- 1/2 cup whole milk if needed
- Dulce de leche and shredded coconut for assembling if you want
Preheat the oven to 356°F (180°C).
With an electric mixer beat the butter and powdered sugar together until creamy. Add the egg yolks, rum (or amaretto), and orange zest, continuing to beat until well combined.
Sift the dry ingredients: cornstarch, flour, and baking powder. Add them gradually to the butter mixture, mixing until you have a dough with a consistency similar to play-dough. If the dough is too firm or crumbly, you can add a little bit of milk.
With a rolling pin roll out the dough to the desired thickness, approximately 0.8 inches (2 cm) (keep in mind that the dough won't rise much), and cut out circles of the desired size. Place them on a lightly buttered baking sheet and bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until cooked but not golden.
Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet as they are fragile.
Sandwich two cookies together with dulce de leche (caramel spread) in the middle. Roll the sides of the alfajores in shredded coconut (you could also use ground nuts or almonds).
Enjoy your alfajores!