Alfajores (al-fa-ho-res) are Argentina’s most popular snack and there are so many different types and brands. They are such an important part of our culture, that each province has a specific type of alfajor.
Today’s alfajores are from the province of Santa Fe and these alfajores are very different to the alfajores I have made before in The Argentine Kitchen. Alfajores santafesinos are made from three layers of thin crispy dough, filled with dulce de leche and covered in a lovely Italian meringue glaze – simply WOW WOW WOW!!!
Alfajores were brought to Argentina by the Spanish in the 16th century however alfajores most probably originated in the Middle East and made their way to South of Spain before reaching South America!
What will I need to make these delicious alfajores santafesinos?
- Plain flour: This type of flour is best as you don’t want the thin layers to rise and form a sponge!
- Egg yolks: The dough only takes egg yolks. Separate the yolk from the egg whites but do not throw away the egg whites as you will need one for the meringue glaze.
- Salt: Just a small amount of salt is needed. It does not give it a savoury flavour however the dough should not be sweet as it will be filled with dulce de leche and covered in glazing!
- Soft butter: The soft butter is a key ingredient for the dough. Ensure it is unsalted and remove from the fridge 30 minutes you want to start baking.
- Gin: You are probably wondering if I have suddenly gone mad! It is only a teaspoon of alcohol and it will help make the dough crispy. It will fully evaporate when cooking so it is safe for all ages. If you do not have gin, another spirit will work.
- Water: Just good old water from the tap!
- Dulce de leche: You want to ideally use dulce de leche that is a thick consistency (in Argentina we call this dulce de leche repostero). If however you can only find caramel like dulce de leche, that is fine, the layers will just not be as separated.
- Icing sugar: This is a key ingredient when making an Italian meringue glazing.
- Caster sugar and water: This is used to make a sugar syrup that needs to reach 118 degree Celsius. If you do not have a food thermometer, that is fine! Below I explain how to do it without a thermometer too.
- Lemon juice: This helps stabilise the meringue glaze but also gives it a super lovely lemony flavour!
This recipe makes 24 alfajores. I used a 6cm cutter however you can make them bigger if you want. If you don’t want to make the full 24 alfajores, you can cut the uncooked dough into small sections and freeze it before cooking (then defrost, roll, bake and make fresh alfajores) OR freeze the baked cookies before making them into alfajores!
For the dough
- 400g plain flour
- 1 tsp table salt
- 4 egg yolks
- 80ml water
- 1 tsp gin
- 80g soft butter
For the meringue glaze
- 200g icing sugar
- 200g caster sugar
- 200ml water
- 1 egg white
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
To assemble the alfajores
- 500g dulce de leche repostero
To make the alfajores biscuits
- In a clean bowl, mix the flour and salt together. Make a well in the middle and add the water, egg yolks and gin. Using a fork, begin to mix until it is mostly mixed.
- To this, add the soft butter and start using your hands to mix it all together. You will struggle at first to combine it all into a dough but continue to knead.
- Knead the dough together for 5-7 minutes until a lovely uniform dough is formed.
- Roll into a slight sausage shape, cover in cling film and allow it to rest in the fridge for at least an hour.
- Once the dough has rested, remove the dough from the fridge and begin preheating the oven at 200 degree Celsius.
- Use a knife to cut a slab of the sausage shaped dough.
- In a lightly floured surface, roll the dough until it is a very thin layer (1-2mm thick). Use a fork to make holes in the whole surface of the dough. This will help prevent air bubbles from forming in the dough layer.
- Use your cutter to cut all the dough into 6cm in diameter circles. Place each circle in a tray covered with parchment paper. Remember that each alfajor uses 3 biscuits therefore ensure you cut in multiple of three!
- Bake the cookies at 200 degree Celsius for 5-7 minutes until they are slightly golden.
- Once completely baked, remove from the oven and allow to cool.
To make the Italian meringue glazing
- In a clean bowl, whisk the icing sugar, egg white and lemon juice using an electric whisk until well mixed.
- Using a food thermometer, heat the sugar and water until a sugar syrup is formed and reaches 116-120 degree Celsius (if you do not have a food thermometer, look at the bubbles! As the syrup gets cooked, the bubbles will start forming from the sides of the pan and gradually spread towards the centre. When the whole surface area is bubbling, the syrup is ready for the meringue.)
- When the sugar syrup reaches 118 degree Celsius, take the pan off the heat and start drizzling slowly the hot sugar syrup to the icing sugar and egg white mix whilst continuously whisking. Do not stop whisking or the egg whites may scramble!
- Whisk for a few minutes until the glaze is slightly thicker. It will thicken as it cools so if needed, add a bit more lemon juice to loosen before glazing the alfajores.
To assemble the alfajores santafesinos
- Fill a piping bag with dulce de leche which is at room temperature. Pipe dulce de leche on top of one the biscuits and cover with a second biscuit. Cover the second biscuit with dulce de leche and cover with a third biscuit.
- Once all the alfajores have been assembled, make the meringue glaze as you do not want this to be resting for too long (it will form a thin layer at the top otherwise and then crack when you try to mix!)
- Cover all the alfajores with the meringue glaze and allow the glazing to drip on the sides. You can otherwise cover all the alfajores with the meringue glazing.
- Allow the glaze to dry for a few hours (24 hours is best) before you eat them as otherwise the meringue will be too soft!
- ENJOY! 🙂
These alfajores are very Argentine and therefore I am very excited to be sharing them with you! I cannot wait to hear you thoughts on these!!
Buen provecho! 🙂