Alfajores are my favorite childhood cookies, they are a very crumbly shortbread like cookie filled with caramel, preferably Cajeta (Argentinian milk caramel) then rolled in powdered sugar. I had not had much luck when making alfajores, they just never seemed to turn out right. Recently a friend gave me her recipe, but they they didn't come out like hers, which are very good. I think the problem was in the measurements, the cornstarch was in grams while others ingredients were in cups, sort of the type of recipe you need the original baker to make with you the first time and since I am many countries away from from her I had to figure it out for myself. Once I knew what the problem was, (they had too much cornstarch) I was easily able to fix it. So I made batch number two and I think they are just delightful- if I do say so myself!
Notes: When cutting the cookies out, do it as closely as possible and use as little flour as you can without the dough sticking to the table. You can only re-roll the dough out 1 time before it becomes too dry from the extra flour. The butter must be very soft so the dough will hold together- I cannot stress this enough- microwave it for 15 seconds if you have to- just make sure it's soft! You may substitute the Cognac for Grand Marnier or dark Rum. Bake the cookies until they are just starting to color, they are supposed to be very pale. (they also burn very fast- watch them carefully). Also, the cookies are a little delicate so be careful not to break them when spreading the caramel.
You can purchase Cajeta at most specialty food stores, I Know Sur la Table has it. You may also make your own caramel, but please be very careful if you do this:
(I tell you this from experience as my husband has had a can explode) In a medium pot place an unopened can of condensed milk (not the pull-lid type), cover with water at least 5 inches over the top of the can. Cook over medium heat for 2 hours. NEVER let the water boil down and evaporate- that's when the can explodes, add more water if necessary. Let the caramel cool for at least an hour, then open and spread on the cookies. The caramel will keep in the can unopened for about one moth before it starts to crystallize.
1 1/4 cup cornstarch
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 lb. butter at room temperature (1 stick)
3/4 cup sugar
2 egg yolks
2 tablespoons cognac
Cajeta or home-made caramel (see above)
powdered sugar for sprinkling cookies after they bake
1. In large mixer bowl cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time and mix until incorporated. Add cognac and mix well.
2. Add flour, cornstarch and baking powder and mix until the dough comes together.
3. Roll out dough over a lightly floured surface to 1/8 inch thickness. Cut shapes out and place on greased baking sheets. Bake for 10-15 minutes depending on the size of the cookies. Cookies should be barely brown on the bottom, tops will be pale. Set on cooling rack to cool. Fill with cajeta and cover in powdered sugar. This recipe can be easily doubled.