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Alfajores - a sweet and addicting temptation made in Peru

Peruvian Alfajores

Powdery cookies filled with Manjar Blanco - a sweet temptation made in Peru

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Sunflower - Last Update: November 21, 2017

Creamy, sweet Manjar Blanco embedded in two almost powdery cookies, that is a traditional, absolutely delicious and addicting Peruvian Alfajor - one of the most popular sweet sensations in the country.

Alfajores are most probably an adaptation of the Arabic confection "alajú" that for centuries is made in some regions of Spain and came to Latin America with the Spanish conquerors. So throughout Central and South America different versions of Alfajores with numerous fillings can be found.

In Peru the traditional Alfajor consists of two fine, crumbly almost powdery, pale cookies made of flour, cornstarch, butter and powdered sugar that are filled with Manjar Blanco, a sweat, caramel-like, sticky reduction of whole milk and sugar.

Alfajores are a delicious little goodie for in between, perfect on the coffee table, great as special treat on a buffet or a good way to end a Peruvian dinner.

Making Alfajores at home is really super simple though a little time consuming. The key to an exceptional Alfafor is using a good Manjar Blanco for the filling. Contrary to common belief Peruvian Manjar Blanco usually isn’t Dulce de Leche. Most types of Dulce de Leche are a reduction of (sweetened) condensed milk while Manjar Blanco is made by reducing sugared whole milk to a thick and creamy caramel-like paste – the ingredients might be similar, the taste and texture however is quite different.

So, if you prepare Alfajores at home either get ready-made original Peruvian Manjar Blanco which is available in Latin American (online) food stores and even on Amazon or prepare it on your own. While being a slow and long process, it isn’t difficult at all and once the first home-made Alfajor melts in your mouth worth every single minute.

Find below my favorite, really easy recipe for Peruvian Alfajores including instructions on how to make Manjar Blanco.

Photos

For heavenly Peruvian Alfajores good Manjar Blanco is needed which is easy to prepare though time-consuming.
After simmering whole milk with sugar for more or less 30 minutes the mixture starts to change its color and consistancy and we are one step further to soon have a delicious Peruvian Manjar Blanco
Another ten minutes or so later the Peruvian Manjar Blanco is ready
Your home-made Peruvian Manjar Blanco should be creamy and sticky with a golden-brown, caramel-like color
The result of 45 minutes of hard work: delicious, home-made Peruvian Manjar Blanco
The dough for Peruvian Alfajores is really easy and quickly made
After combing the ingredients ....
... the shiny dough is ready ...
... and rolled-out just needs some time to rest in the fridge.
After cutting out the cookies for the Alfajores ...
... and piercing them with a fork ...
... the cookies are baked and ready to be filled.
A generous amount of self-made or ready-made Manjar Blanco is spread on one Alfajor cookie and then sandwich-like topped with another.
Dusted with lots of powdered sugar the Peruvian Alfajores with Manjar Blanco filling are ready to be enjoyed.

Eva's Recipe for traditional Peruvian Alfajores

Food

Ingredients:

Ingredients for the Alfajores
150 g all-purpose flour (1 1/5 cups)
150 g cornstarch (1 1/5 cups)
1 teaspoon baking powder
50 g powdered sugar (2/5 cups)
200 g butter at room temperature (7 ounces)
1 small egg
250 g Manjar Blanco
Powdered sugar for decoration
Ingredients for Manjar Blanco
1 l fresh whole milk - no light, skim or UHT milk! (2 1/8 cups)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
250 g sugar (2 ¼ cups)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preparation:

  1. If you don’t use ready-made Manjar Blanco first prepare the creamy, caramel-like paste. Otherwise skip the next 4 steps.
  2. In a wide and high nonstick pot bring the milk to a boil. Then reduce the heat to low and start whisking. Carefully add the baking soda. As it will foam heavily, keep stirring to avoid boiling over. As soon as the milk has its normal volume, add the sugar and slowly stir until it is completely dissolved.
  3. Then let simmer on very low heat, only stirring occasionally. The trick is finding a good balance between stirring only as much as the milk doesn't boil over or burn and leaving it simmering for enough time to let the liquid evaporate and the sugar caramelize. For the next 20 minutes nothing seems to happen. Be patient. After about 30 minutes the mixture starts to change the color and get creamier. As soon it's light golden and thickens, it's time to constantly, but very slowly stir to avoid burning.
  4. As soon as the Manjor Blanco has a nice dark golden-brown color and is very thick and sticky (this should be after more or less 40 minutes), it's ready. To determine if it has the right consistency, drag a spoon along the bottom of the pot, you should be able to see it for a few seconds; or take a teaspoon out on a small plate, if it stays the way you placed it, it's exactly right.
  5. Remove from heat. Stir in the vanilla extract and let cool down. Give it an occasional stir until completely cooled.
  6. Once the Manjar Blanco is ready, sift together the flour, cornstarch, baking powder and powdered sugar in a bowl. Cut butter in small cubes and add to the dry ingredients. With an electric mixer incorporate the butter. Then add the egg and stir in. Flour your hands and knead to a well-combined and shiny dough. Next roll it out to about 3 mm thick. Best use baking paper or cling film on the bottom and top to avoid sticking. Refrigerate the rolled-out dough with the baking paper for at least 30 minutes.
  7. Remove the top sheet of the baking paper from the dough. With a floured round cookie cutter cut out cookies. Cover a baking tray with baking paper and carefully place the cookies onto it. Pierce twice with a fork. Then bake for 8 – 10 minutes at 170°C (340°F). The cookies shouldn’t brown. Allow to cool.
  8. With all preparation work done, it’s time to make Alfajores. Spread a generous teaspoon of Manjar Blanco on a cookie and then place a second one sandwich-like on top. To avoid a mess with the sticky Manjar Blanco, you can as well fill the Manjar Blanco in a piping bag and pipe a decent amount of it onto the cookie and then top it with another.
  9. Dust the Alfajores with plenty of powdered sugar and enjoy.
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