Alfajores are dulce de leche sandwich cookies found all across Latin America, as well as the Philippines. You will love this recipe for irresistibly soft shortbread cookies with dulce de leche filling!
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or with a handheld electric mixer, beat the softened butter for about 2-3 minutes, or until the butter is light and fluffy.
Add the confectioners (powdered) sugar and beat for another minute or two, or until well blended.
Add the vanilla and orange zest and mix until combined
In a bowl, whisk together the sifted flour and cornstarch. Stir into the butter mixture in batches until just combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl periodically. Do not overmix.
Dump the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide into 4 equal parts. For each part into ball and flatten into disk between two sheets of parchment paper.
Roll each disk to an even layer 1/4 inch thick while between the parchment paper. Stack the sheets of dough and chill in the refrigerator for 3 hours or overnight. Alternatively, you can chill the dough for 1 hour in the freezer.
When you’re ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350°F with a rack in the center of the oven.
Working with one rolled out sheet of cookie dough at a time, use a 2-inch round or fluted cookie cutter and cut out the cookies. Place on a lined baking sheet about 2 inches apart. Re-roll and chill any remaining scraps of dough, and continue cutting out cookies. Repeat for all the dough; you will have enough for about 80 rounds to make 40 sandwich cookies.
Bake the cookies one tray at a time for 8-10 minutes, or until just lightly golden on the bottom. Let the cookies cool for 5 minutes on the tray before transfering to a wire rack to cool completely.
To assemble the alfajores, place a heaping teaspoon of dulce de leche on the bottom side of a cookie. Gently press another cookie on top. Repeat for all the cookies.
Before serving, sprinkle with powdered sugar.
Rolling the dough out before chilling not only make it easier to roll out the dough, but helps prevent any dough cracking from working with cold dough.
The cookies can be made the day before, completely assembled, and stored in an air tight container at room temperature. If you plan on keeping the cookies for longer, make the cookies with the exception of the final sprinkling of powdered sugar and store in the refrigerator.
The layers of dough can also be frozen so that the cookies can be baked at a later time. You can cut and bake directly from the freezer.
The recipe can easily be halved for a smaller batch.