Dulce de Leche Sandwich Cookies (Alfajores)

Dulce de Leche Sandwich Cookies or Alfajores are soft, tender cookies filled with deliciously sweet dulce de leche. These melt-in-your-mouth sandwich cookies can be served as is, sprinkled with powdered sugar or rolled in coconut. However you enjoy them, they are sure to be a hit!

Who wouldn’t like 2 delicious cookies sandwiching a delicious, dulce de leche filling? If this person exists, I have yet to meet them.

These tender, melt-in-your-mouth cookies are of South American origin and are always a hit whenever I bring them to parties. It’s not hard to see why! They have the perfect ratio of cookie to filling and are so satisfying delicious!

To make the perfect Alfajore or Dulce de Leche Sandwich Cookie, the cookies needs to have 2 things:

  1. Tender cookies with a crumbly texture (so that when you bite into them, they don’t smush the filling out)
  2. A luscious and thick dulce de leche filling.
Close up of an alfajore showing the dulce de leche filling in a stack of cookies.

The filling is what really makes these cookies out of this world. If you haven’t had dulce de leche before, you are missing out on one of the most delicious sweet sauces there is.

Dare I say, it is better than caramel! Lusciously smooth, wonderfully thick and down right delectable. Dulce de leche is all of those things and more.

These cookies can be served up as is, but they are often sprinkled with powdered sugar. I think this makes them look even prettier. They are also often rolled in shredded coconut but you can choose to do without if you are not a fan.

However you serve them, they are sure to be a hit with everyone. These alfajores are easily one of my favourite sandwich cookies! I am confident they will become a favourite of yours too.

Two stacked dulce de leche sandwich cookies dusted with powdered sugar.

Why you should make Alfajores or Dulce de Leche Sandwich Cookies:

  • They are delicious!

  • They have a tender, melt-in-your-mouth texture.

  • Dulce de leche is seriously the best sauce there is!

  • The recipe is quite easy to make!

  • They are delicious. Yes, I said it before but taste is king. And these cookies deliver!
A stack of 3 alfajores on parchment paper surrounded by more cookies.

Dulce de Leche vs. Caramel: Are they the same?

In a word, no. While dulce de leche and caramel are often likened to each other, they really aren’t the same.

It isn’t a terrible comparison, to be fair. There are some similarities in that they are sweetened sauces with similar colouring. They can be used much the same ways too and swapping one for another in the recipe often works out just fine (I don’t recommend swapping caramel in alfajores though- more on that below).

That said, dulce de leche, though kind of similar, isn’t the same thing. This gorgeous sauce, with its beautiful golden-brown colour is so much better, if you ask me.

Dulce de leche has a thicker, creamier texture owing to the fact that it is made with milk, not water like caramel is. Caramel is runnier and is pourable, whereas dulce de leche is thicker and you can’t pour it. You can pipe this sauce and it will keep its shape, unlike caramel. This makes it perfect for using to sandwich between cookies. Caramel wouldn’t work for this recipe because it would just seep out.

Dulce de leche also has a mellower flavour than caramel. It reminds me more of toffee or butterscotch, though not exactly. Dulce de leche is better than all of those things. I said it. And I stick by that. You really have to try it to appreciate its flavour.

Topview of a jar of thick dulce de leche sauce with a spoonful of dulce de leche on a marble countertop.

How to make Homemade Dulce de Leche

To make dulce de leche at home, all you need is a can of sweetened condensed milk. I used to use the slow cooker method but after reading about the safety issues involved, I have looked into other methods.

While store bought is an option, there are safer ways to make it at home that still require just that 1 ingredient (and water).

Eagle Brand® has a recipe on their website that involves baking their sweetened condensed milk in the oven. Their recipe takes about an hour to do plus some time for it to cool off. This is great for when you are looking to put your sauce to use quickly.

Closeup of a jar of dulce de leche.

Ingredients in Alfajores or Dulce de Leche Sandwich Cookies

  • Flour: All purpose flour.

  • Cornstarch: Helps give the cookies their crumbly texture.

  • Baking powder: Used as a leavening agent.

  • Salt: Enhances flavour of baked goods.

  • Butter: Softened butter is used in this recipe.

  • Sugar: These are cookies, after all. Regular granulated sugar is used in the cookies but you can dust them with powdered sugar too.

  • Egg yolks

  • Vanilla extract: Adds delicious flavour.

  • Lemon zest: Also adds flavour to the cookies.

  • Dulce de leche: You can use store-bought or make your own (see above).

Note: Recipe quantities and full instructions are in the recipe card at the end of this post.

A pile of alfajores cookies dusted with powdered sugar.

How to Make Alfajores or Dulce de Leche Sandwich Cookies

1. Mix the dry ingredients: In a large bowl, add the flour, corn starch, baking powder and salt. Mix and set it aside.

2. Cream the butter and sugar: In the bowl if a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar until fluffy using the paddle attachment.

3. Mix the wet ingredients: Add the egg yolks, vanilla extract, and lemon zest and mix until well blended.

4. Combine and wet and dry ingredients: With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture and mix until it is thoroughly blended.

Photo collage showing the steps for making alfajores dough.

5. Chill dough: Transfer the dough to your work surface and divide it into 4 equal portions. Form each one into a disk shape and cover with food wrap. Place in the fridge to cool for 5 minutes.

6. Roll out dough: Roll each disk to desired thickness. I use 2 wooden skewers as a guide and roll the dough between the skewers with a rolling pin to ensure they are all the same height.

7. Shape cookies: Use your cookie cutter to cut out your cookies and carefully transfer to the baking sheets.

8. Bake: Bake in the oven for approximately 10-12 minutes or until the middle of the cookies no longer looks ‘wet’ and the bottom is beginning to brown slightly. Cool cookies on a cooling rack.

A photo collage showing the steps for sharping alfajores cookies.

9. Assemble cookie sandwiches: Once cooled, spoon or pipe a dollop of dulce de leche on one cookie and place another on top, pressing down gently. If desired, roll the cookies in shredded coconut and dust with powdered sugar.

A photo collage showing how to make a sandwich cookie.

Toppings for Alfajores

While you can certainly serve them as is, you can also add additional toppings to your cookies. The two most traditional toppings for alfajores are:

  • powdered sugar
  • shredded coconut

If you are using shredded coconut, give it a blitz in a spice grinder of food processor to make the pieces smaller. That helps them stick better to the dulce de leche filling.

Photo collage showing how to add coconut to alfajores.

Tips for making the best dulce de leche cookies:

While this recipe is pretty easy, there are a few things to keep in mind to ensure the best results.

  • Chill your dough. Since the cookie dough is soft, it is important to chill your dough so it is easier to work with (and not sticky).

  • Make sure cookies are the same thickness. I like to use thick wooden skewers or thick chopsticks on either side of my rolling pin to ensure that the cookies come out a uniform size (thickness).

  • Don’t make your cookies too thick. Again, the wooden skewers help with this. You want a good ratio of dulce de leche filling to cookie.

  • Cool the cookies before filling them. The filling will melt and begin to ooze if the cookies are still warm so allow them to cool before you make the sandwiches.

  • Grind your coconut: If you are using shredded coconut on your cookies, place the shredded coconut in a spice grinder or food processor and pulse a few times. This will break up the coconut into smaller pieces which will stick to the dulce de leche better.

I hope you enjoy these cookies! They are so good, one might find themselves eating crumbs off their plate. Just saying.

-Cathy

A bitten alfajore showing the creamy dulce de leche filling.

You may also like:

Chocolate Chip Shortbread Cookies
Lemon Crinkle Cookies
Chocolate Dipped Toffee Shortbread Cookies

This recipe was updated on July 27, 2022 with new photos and an improved recipe.

Close up of an alfajore showing the dulce de leche filling in a stack of cookies.

Dulce de Leche Sandwich Cookies (Alfajores)

Herbs and Flour
Dulce de Leche Sandwich Cookies or Alfajores are soft, tender cookies filled with deliciously sweet dulce de leche. These melt-in-your-mouth sandwich cookies can be served as is, sprinkled with powdered sugar or rolled in coconut. However you enjoy them, they are sure to be a hit!
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 12 mins
Total Time 42 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine South American
Servings 24 sandwich cookies
Calories 204 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup butter softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 1/4 cup dulce de leche

Optional toppings:

  • powdered sugar aka icing sugar or confectioners sugar
  • shredded coconut

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 350F and line 2 baking trays with parchment paper.
  • In a large bowl, add the flour, corn starch, baking powder and salt. Mix and set it aside.
  • In the bowl if a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar until fluffy using the paddle attachment. Add the egg yolks, vanilla extract, and lemon zest and mix until well blended.
  • With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture and mix until it is thoroughly blended.
  • Transfer the dough to your work surface and divide it into 4 equal portions. Form each one into a a disk shape and cover with food wrap. Place in the fridge to cool for 5 minutes.
  • Roll each disk to desired thickness. I use 2 wooden skewers as a guide and roll the dough between the skewers with a rolling pin to ensure they are all the same height.
  • Use your cookie cutter to cut out your cookies and carefully transfer to the baking sheets. Bake in the oven for approximately 10-12 minutes or until the middle of the cookies no longer looks 'wet' and the bottom is beginning to brown slightly.
  • Cool cookies on a cooling rack.
  • Once cooled, spoon or pipe a dollop of dulce de leche on one cookie and place another on top, pressing down gently. If desired, roll the cookies in shredded coconut and dust with powdered sugar.

Nutrition

Calories: 204kcalCarbohydrates: 28gProtein: 2gFat: 9gSaturated Fat: 6gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.4gMonounsaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0.4gCholesterol: 41mgSodium: 149mgPotassium: 71mgFiber: 0.3gSugar: 16gVitamin A: 258IUVitamin C: 0.1mgCalcium: 16mgIron: 1mg
Keyword christmas cookies, cookies, dulce de leche
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