These Peruvian Alfajores Cookies are my rendition of the fabulous cookies I fell in love with during our travels in Peru. A favorite postre (aka dessert) throughout Latin America, each region has its own version. I've taken a little bit of creative license with mine. They feature a shortbread-style cookie with the addition of anise seed, and are filled with a variety of fillings - manjar blanco, passion fruit curd, and/or chocolate ganache.
👩🏻🍳 Tamara Talks - About Alfajores Cookies
Alfajores ostensibly originated in the Middle East centuries ago, and eventually made their way to Spain. With the invasion of the Spanish conquistadors, they arrived in South America in the sixteenth century.
When I decided to work on a recipe for these Peruvian-inspired cookies, I looked not only to the alfajores I've had in Peru, but in some of the flavors I associate with Peru. Anise seed is a good example of my approach. I have made this pan de anis recipe for years. Anise makes its way into the celebrated Peruvian bread pan chuta which our bus stops for outside Cuzco on every trip. I had to include it in my cookie recipe!
While manjar blanco is the most typical filling in Peru, I have had them with dark chocolate. Dark chocolate ganache has the perfect consistency for a sandwich cookie filling, so it was a perfect choice for one of the three fillings. Passion fruit curd is a main component of this dark chocolate Peruvian-inspired dessert, and it was fabulous in the sandwich cookies!
🍊 3 Easy Fillings
On photo day, I chose to make all 3 fillings. You might not want the mess. 😂 If it's your first time making alfajores, pick the one that intrigues you!
Manjar blanco is a caramel-like topping that is similar to dulce le leche. You can find ready-made manjar blanco in Latin foods stores, but homemade is so much better! I use this manjar blanco recipe. It is not the same as dulce le leche, so if possible, use manjar blanco.
I do not recommend making your own by boiling a can of sweetened condensed milk! The recipe I use is quite simple, and requires just 4 ingredients: Whole milk, sugar, baking soda, and vanilla. I highly recommend the extra step!
I use this chocolate ganache recipe. The author gives a lot of good tips as a well a video for making perfect chocolate ganache. If you're making it for the first time, chocolate chips are a great option. I love these bittersweet chocolate wafers for ganache.
When the ganache is hot, it's pourable. When it's cooled to room temperature, it will be spreadable. You want the ganache to be spreadable. If you refrigerate it after making it (like I did), you'll want to bring it to room temperature.
Passion Fruit Curd
If you need a little more information to complete this passion fruit curd, see the post and recipe card for this passionfruit dark chocolate dessert.
- ¼ cup passion fruit pulp - I use Goya passion fruit pulp. Thaw it completely before adding to the blender.
- 2 large eggs
- ¾ cup sugar
- zest of 1 lemon
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened - If you use salted butter, omit the salt.
My passionfruit curd is SIMPLE! The ingredients go into a blender or food processor until smooth and thoroughly combined. If you're an experienced cook that pays attention, you can cook it with direct heat on the stove. Otherwise, you're better off to use a double boiler. Cook, stirring constantly, until it thickens and coats the back of a spoon. Chill the mixture completely to thicken to spreadable.
📋 Ingredients You'll Need
Here is a quick look at the ingredients in the recipe – it’s handy to use at the grocery store or as a summary of what you need. Skip to the recipe for quantities. I've included only the cookie ingredients in this list. See the above Fillings for options.
- self-rising flour - If you don't have self-rising flour, you can add 1 teaspoon baking powder, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon baking soda to regular flour. This recipe calls for 1 ½ cup of flour, so calculate carefully!
- butter - Use unsalted butter for these cookies.
- egg yolk
- sugar - Just plain ole white sugar. I prefer turbinado sugar, but I've not tried it in this cookie recipe.
- anise seeds - Anise seeds are definitely a Peruvian ingredient, but not often found in alfajores cookies (though I have had them in Peru). If you're fond of them, include them, but they're certainly optional!
- egg yolk
- powdered sugar - Powdered sugar is the finishing touch on your cookies.
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- Preparation - Prepare filling(s)first. Preheat the oven to 350°. Gather a sifter or sieve, large and medium mixing bowls, a hand mixer and/or spatula, and baking sheet(s) covered with parchment.
- Combine the "wet" ingredients - In a large mixing bowl, combine the softened butter, egg yolk, sugar, vanilla, and anise seeds.
- Cream the "wet" ingredients - Using a hand mixer, a stand mixer, or muscle power and a spatula, cream the ingredients until smooth and creamy.
- Sift the dry ingredients - I don't have a sifter, but a fine mesh strainer works fine. Sift the flour and the cornstarch.
- Combine the wet and dry ingredients - Add the sifted ingredients to the creamed ingredients. Mix thoroughly using a mixer. You can do it by hand, but it will require some work. The mixture should be crumbly.
- Rest the dough - Gather the crumbly mixture with your hands, and work it into a ball. Try to avoid over-handling it. Cover with a towel or plastic wrap, and refrigerate for one hour.
- Roll out and cut the cookies - I like to use my roller (see photo above for reference) to roll the dough quite thin. I got mine years ago from Pampered Chef, but this roller is similar. Place them on baking sheet(s) on top of parchment paper.
- Bake the cookies - Bake in a 350° oven until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.
- Assemble the cookies - Spread half of the cookies with a generous amount of filling. As you can see in my photos, it's okay to have them overflow a little! Use a sieve or a sifter to apply powdered sugar. Enjoy!
How do I store the alfajores?
I store the cookies in an airtight container in the refrigerator separate from the fillings. You can keep them in a cool dry place as well. Refrigerate all 3 of the fillings until using. The passion fruit curd is spreadable when cold, but the manjar blanco and the chocolate ganache are spreadable at room temperature. If stacking, place a layer of parchment or waxed paper in between.
How long can I keep the alfajores?
Once the cookies are assembled, they can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 6 days, but will they really last that long?
Can alfajores be frozen?
Yes. Again, you'll want to put layers of parchment or waxed paper in between. Store up to 3 months in the freezer, then bring to room temperature before serving.
💭 Tips for the Best Alfajores
Use a large, deep mixing bowl to cream the wet ingredients. You'll be adding the sifted ingredients, and if you use a hand mixer, you'll be better able to confine the mess!
Keep the fillings separate from the cookies if you won't be eating them right away as that keeps the moisture away from the cookies.
The manjar blanco and the chocolate ganache are spreadable at room temperature.
Overhandling the cookie dough results in a less flaky and tender cookie.
I don't make sweets or desserts very often, and when I do, those calories have to be worth it! These Peruvian cookies are definitely worth both the effort and the calories. I hope you'll give them a try!
Peruvian Alfajores Cookies
- ¾ cup unsalted butter - softened
- 1 large egg yolk
- ½ cupq granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon anise seeds - optional
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 ½ cups self-rising flour - see Ingredients in post for substitution
- ¾ cup cornstarch
Make the Alfajores
- Prepare filling(s)first. Preheat the oven to 350°. Gather equipment.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the softened butter, egg yolk, sugar, vanilla, and anise seeds. Using a hand mixer, a stand mixer, or muscle power and a spatula, cream the ingredients until smooth and creamy.
- Sift the flour and the cornstarch. Add the sifted ingredients to the creamed ingredients. Mix thoroughly using a mixer. The mixture should be crumbly.
- Gather the crumbly mixture with your hands, and work it into a ball. Cover with a towel or plastic wrap, and refrigerate for one hour.
- Bake in a 350° oven until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.
- Spread half of the cookies with a generous amount of filling. Top with the remaining cookies. Use a sieve or a sifter to apply powdered sugar.
NOTE: Macronutrients are an approximation only using unbranded ingredients and MyFitnessPal.com. Please do your own research with the products you’re using if you have a serious health issue or are following a specific diet.
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