Mr. S's family is from Chile, but he was born and raised in NYC. He has visited Chile only a few times in his life - the last time was when we had just started dating about 5 years ago. We were a new couple head-over-heels in love and he up and left me for two weeks... I still remember driving him to JFK and leaving him at the gate with tears in my eyes, but what could I do? The trip was planned before we had even met! Well, I did the only thing a girlfriend could do while her boyfriend was on the opposite hemisphere - email him love letters and video messages until his return!
When Mr. S finally came home, he came bearing gifts... an alpaca hat, a lovely ring (no, not that ring), and a variety of Chilean confections! Among all of the goodies were chocolate-covered alfajores. Alfajores are a popular treat in South America, that are basically sandwich cookies filled with dulce de leche or manjar. The cookie itself can be thick - like shortbread, or thin - like a flaky pastry depending which region of South America is making them. I've had alfajores from Argentina and they are traditionally made with the shortbread cookies while it seems that the traditional Chilean alfajor consists of thin cookie or pastry. Regardless of where they're from, they are all filled with decadent dulce de leche.
We both love this pastry so much that we even gave them as favors at our wedding! So, it only seemed appropriate that I attempt the traditional Chilean alfajor in celebration of our love for each other... and the cookie! I google'd high and low for a Chilean recipe but it seems the majority are for shortbread cookies. Finally, I came across a blog called, "Cuisine with Chilean Flavor" that shared a recipe with photos of alfajores with the thin flaky pastry I was searching for (or so it seemed).
Mr. S really enjoyed this version of the alfajores - but I wasn't too fond of the cookie. They weren't crisp or flaky like I had anticipated. I'm not sure if perhaps I overworked the dough or didn't roll it thin enough as they came out slightly chewy and flavorless. But then again, they are being slathered with rich, dulce de leche... honestly, anything smeared in dulce de leche is a win in my book!
adapted from Cuisine with Chilean Flavor (via Nestle.cl)
Makes about 20 cookies (10 alfajores)
5 Egg yolks
½ cup sifted all purpose flour
½ cup cornstarch
½ teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoon Orange juice
1 cup (or more depending on personal preference) dulce de leche (store bought or homemade*)
Preheat oven to 400ºF.
In a bowl of a stand mixer, with the whisk attachment, add the egg yolks and beat them until very pale. In a separate bowl sift the flour, baking powder and cornstarch. Add the dry ingredients to the egg yolks in three parts, adding the orange juice in between. Once the dough has moistened, transfer the dough onto a sheet of parchment paper. Knead by hand until dough is soft and no longer sticky.
In between two sheets of parchment paper, roll the dough very thin (1/8") making sure to always roll on the same side (this creates the slight curl in the cookies). Cut rounds using a medium biscuit cutter and prick with a fork. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper (or coat with cooking spray) and bake the disks for 3 minutes (the cookies should remain pale and not golden).
Remove from oven and allow to cool on wire racks. Once cooled, spoon dulce de leche generously over the inside of one cookie and top it with another. If desired, dust alfajores with powdered sugar before serving.