How can you tell these are New World cookies? By all the cornstarch (corn flour) of course. Some readers have written in to tell me they don’t like the taste and/or texture of cornstarch even when it’s baked. If that’s the case no worries, you can still make these with cake flour. Yuca flour is another alternative that’s used quite a bit in alfajores, assuming you can find it. Note that the proportion of the different flours can be changed to suit your taste. Some like a firmer alfajor, in which case you can use 100% wheat flour, all-purpose if you like. For those who prefer theirs ultra-tender, you can use up to 65% non-wheat flour and they’ll still hold together. Here’s what I did. These aren’t very sweet because the filling is extremely so.
5 ounces (1 cup) all-purpose flour
4 ounces (1 cup) cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 ounces (1/2 cup) powdered (confectioner’s) sugar
4 ounces (1 stick) butter
1 whole egg
1 egg yolk
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons pisco (Peruvian brandy) or cognac
1-2 cups thick dulce de leche or about 1 cup jam for filling
Sift together the flour(s), leavening and salt. In a medium bowl or in a mixer with the paddle attachment, cream the powdered sugar and butter until it’s light in color. Add the egg, yolk, zest and brandy and beat until it’s all combined (it may be a little lumpy, which is OK). Stir in the flour-baking powder mixture and work the dough just until it comes together. Refrigerate the dough for half an hour.
Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. After the dough has rested, roll it out to about a 1/8 inch thickness and cut it into rounds with a cookie cutter. Place the rounds on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake them for 10 minutes until baked but still very blonde. Cool the cookies on a wire rack, then fill with dulce de leche.