I first tried Alfajores when I was in Barcelona three years ago. It was the fourth city on my European trip that I went on with an acquaintance really but is now a great friend. I knew Jake from college and we both studied abroad in the U.K. He was in London when I was in Newcastle. I had the month of April off from school and he finished school in April so it just worked out that we would travel together for the whole month.
I stayed with him in London for a week then we went off to Paris for six days, then Berlin for three, then Barcelona! In Barcelona we stayed with Jake’s friend’s acquaintance, so naturally it was a little strange, especially since Jake had only met her once and I had never met her! She was living in Barcelona for six months and was leaving for back home in L.A. a week after we stayed with her. One night for dinner, she took us to a restaurant around the corner from her apartment. I thought I would get to try some authentic Spanish cuisine, but no! For some reason, I got to try authentic Peruvian food in Spain.
The food was good, but you know I only wanna talk about the desserts.
And the dessert was….ALFAJORES!
These cookies blew my mind! Granted, I was very upset when this girl ordered them. Jake and I were on a budget, and visiting 5 plus European cities within four weeks, we needed to be frugal. And this girl just kept tacking things on to the order with “you gotta try this!” By the time she suggested dessert, I already had my coat on. But of course she was like “you gotta try these cookies!”
And if I have one thing to thank this girl for (aside from the free 2 night stay) it is that she introduced me to alfajores.
Now, for those of you who are so confused and tired of reading the word “ALFAJORES”, they are shortbread cookies sandwiched by dulce de leche. Still confused? Sometimes they are improved upon immensely when they are covered in chocolate. Still not seeing the appeal? Get out.
Ever since I tried these cookies three years ago, I buy them up wherever I see them! Farmer’s markets, bakeries, Whole Foods, food trucks, wherever. (I got these ones from Sabores de Sur that rocked my world. )They are really hard to come by! And never has one compared to my Barcelona alfajor.
So I thought I’d give these cookies a try myself using this recipe. I thought they were plain old shortbread cookies but they have a bit of a kick to them! They use cinnamon and lemon zest which gave them a lot of flavor.
As the recipe cautioned, the dough was incredibly crumbly so you just have to work it with your hands a bit to pack it into disks to be chilled for 30 minutes.
The dough is then rolled out to 1/8-1/4 inch.
Then it’s time for the dulce de leche!
But they still needed chocolate!
And then the finished cookies!
I used semi-sweet chocolate with a bit of shortening, but once melted it was a thick consistency. I had to test out coating a few cookies to really get the hang of it. I think I would have gotten a thinner coating if I had melted the chocolate with some cream to make more of a ganache.
I didn’t have dulce de leche, only sweetened condensed milk which needs to be cooked. I was terrified of submerging an unopened can in a pot of boiling water for 3 hours so I opted for the baking method. This blog had an amazing series on all the ways you can make dulce de leche. You pour the sweetened condensed milk into a pie tin and then place that in a larger dish filled with hot water, then bake for 2 hours or so. However delicious this dulce de leche was, it didn’t seem like the right consistency. I didn’t want it to just fall out the sides when I sandwiched it between the cookies! I baked it on the stovetop for another 20 minutes or so and it was perfect!! Or so I thought..it definitely thickened as it sat which made spreading incredibly difficult. Ultimately, I had to add some milk and microwave it to thin it out so it was more spreadable. But all and all I think I over worked it with all my over thinking! Next time, I will definitely just buy the already done can of dulce de leche.
Also, the chocolate coating was too thick, you could hardly taste the dulce de leche! I think alfajores usually have a thicker layer of dulce de leche but I spread it pretty sparingly to make sure I had enough for all my cookies! All things to think of when I try these cookies again another time!