Peruvian Alfajores: What They Are and How to Enjoy Them

You bite down into the sandwich cookie you’ve just been given, and the sweet flavor overwhelms your taste buds. You feel as though you’ve tasted one of the best desserts in the world.

And according to many Peruvians, you have. That’s because you’ve just bitten into a Peruvian alfajor.

Peruvian alfajores are extremely popular Peruvian desserts, featuring their own unique flair compared with other sandwich cookies around the world.

Let’s take a look at what Peruvian alfajores are and how you can enjoy them during your next afternoon tea or coffee break.

What Are Peruvian Alfajores?

Alfajores are essentially sandwich cookies that have been filled with a caramel confection known as dulce de leche, which is made from sugar and milk.

These sandwich cookies originated in the Middle Eastern part of the globe. Spaniards picked up the habit of creating alfajores from the Moor people and then brought this habit to the South American continent.

Now, in Peru and other parts of the continent, alfajores are a major part of the cuisine. In fact, brand-name restaurant chains such as La Casa Del Alfajor, are now built around this delectable cookie.

The Peruvian Version of the Alfajor

Bowl of manger blanco with Peruvian alfajores in the background
Bowl of Manjar Blanco

You’ll come across different types of alfajores in South America depending on what part of the continent you’re in.

A major difference between the Peruvian alfajor and those in other areas of the continent is that the Peruvian alfajor filling is commonly called manjar blanco, rather than dulce de leche.

Why?

Because “manjar blanco” is typically used on the west side of the Andes, whereas “dulce de leche” is used on the east side.

Either way, you can expect your Peruvian alfajor to be filled with a yummy caramel-like reduction of sugar and milk no matter what side of the mountain you’re on. The sticky reduction makes for a sticky yet scrumptious cookie that is known to keep well.

This version is quite different from the Argentine alfajor version, whose alfajores also have two but at times use three cookies, known as Triples.

Chile also has a version of the alfajor. In this South American country, it’s not uncommon to find meringue and nuts folded into your cookie mix. You may also find some alfajores dipped completely in chocolate.

In addition, in some parts of Chile, the alfajores are a smidge thicker.

Finally, the Bolivian alfajor is a mixture of the Peruvian alfajor and the Argentine alfajor. Bolivian alfajores are typically mixed with flour and then rolled in tasty coconut.

Peruvian Alfajor Ingredients

We’ll show you how to create your own Peruvian alfajores filled with the popular manjar blanco filling. Here’s a rundown on the key ingredients you’ll need.

  • A cup of manjar blanco
  • Half a teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • A tablespoon of brandy
  • Two egg yolks
  • One-third cup of granulated sugar
  • Eight tablespoons of softened unsalted butter
  • One-fourth teaspoon of fine salt
  • Half a teaspoon of baking soda
  • A teaspoon of baking powder
  • Three-fourths cup of all-purpose flour
  • A cup of cornstarch

How to Make Peruvian Alfajores

  1. Whisk together the salt, baking soda, baking powder, flour, and cornstarch in a bowl.
  2. Next, beat the sugar and butter together in a stand mixer’s bowl using the medium speed setting and the mixer’s paddle attachment. Keep beating these two ingredients together until they are fluffy and light. Then, you’ll need to add your vanilla extract, brandy, and egg yolks into the mix.
  3. Reduce the stand mixer’s speed so that it is at a low level. Then, add your dry mixture (salt, baking soda, etc.) to the stand mixer’s mix. You should see the dough come together nicely, with no dry pocket visible.
  4. Next, you should turn the dough onto some plastic wrap and shape it into a disk. Then, wrap this smooth disk tightly, and put it in the refrigerator a minimum of one hour.
  5. Preheat your over to a temperature of 350° Fahrenheit. Then, place silicone baking mats or parchment paper on baking sheets.
  6. Once an hour or more has passed, unwrap your refrigerated dough. Then, roll it between two freezer paper sheets.
  7. You should roll the dough to a quarter of an inch thick. Then, take off the top freezer paper sheet.
  8. Next, cut 24 circles from your dough; the circles should be two inches around. Re-roll these circles as necessary.
  9. Then, place the circles on your baking sheets, and bake them for between 12 and 14 minutes. When you see the edges turn a golden color and the centers become set, you’ll know that they are ready to remove from the oven.

Powdered Sugar Topping and Manjar Blanco

Peruvian alfajores on wooden table
Freshly Made Peruvian Alfajores

After your rounds of dough have cooled, you can start assembling your alfajores.

To do this, first sprinkle your cookies with powdered sugar. Then, turn 12 of the circles upside down. Next, apply manger blanco to them.

Finally, place the other 12 circles on top to form tasty sandwiches. Now, it’s time to treat yourself to your own homemade Peruvian alfajores. #bonappetit

Where to Buy Peruvian Alfajores?

If baking is not your thing, you can always shop for Peruvian alfajores at our online store or you may find them at your local ethnic specialty food store. Not quite as rewarding but equally as delicious!

Learn More About Peruvian Foods

Authentic Peruvian Cuisine StampIn addition to learning about how to create your own Peruvian alfajores, we offer a glimpse at many other traditional Peruvian main dishes and desserts you can enjoy on a daily basis or on those special occasions.

For instance, through our website, you can learn about how to create your own tasty empanadas, or fried pastries, for your next family gathering. Or you can discover more about the highly popular Peruvian ceviche.

If you’re into alcoholic beverages, we also provide detailed information about a popular drink in Peru called pisco sour, which provides a taste of brandy, lime juice, and other yummy ingredients.

Take a peek here to further explore the most in-demand Peruvian dishes and learn how to enjoy this cuisine on a whole new level in the months and years to come.

Or you can shop for Peruvian foods at our online store if you’re ready for some Peruvian deliciousness.

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