Introduction: Alfajores - Peruvian Sandwich Cookies
Alfajores are delicious sandwich cookies common in Peru and Argentina. This Peruvian version features chancaca syrup, a decadently rich concoction made with chancaca, a form of unrefined sugar whose English equivalent is called jaggery. It can also be found in Indian groceries as gur. Chancaca sugar includes many minerals which are normally filtered out of refined sugar, such as potassium, iron, and magnesium. It is dark, rich, and tastes like a combination of brown sugar and molasses.
- 1/2 cup orange juice
- 1 1/2 cup chancaca sugar
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 cups water
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cups butter (one and a half sticks)
- 4 tbsp confectioner's sugar
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Step 1: Prepare Syrup
Chancaca syrup can take some time to make, and I recommended starting well in advance. It needs to be brought to a boil, then simmered to reduce it to about 1/8th it's volume. This should be done at as low a heat as possible to prevent it bubbling over. It should also be stirred frequently.
Place the water, cinnamon, chancaca, and sugar in a heavy-bottomed stainless steel sauce pot over medium heat. The chancaca sugar should break up easily during heating. Stir frequently. Bring to a boil. Add orange juice then simmer for up to 30 minutes until thick and syrupy. Allow to cool.
Step 2: Prepare Dough
Add the flour, butter, vanilla, and confectioner's sugar to a bowl and mix until a dough forms. Place the dough in a refrigerator for at least 20 minutes. Place dough ball on a well-floured pastry board and proceed to the next step.
Step 3: Cut and Bake Cookies
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Roll out the dough gently to a thickness of between 1/4 and 1/8 inch depending on your preference. I like my cookies a little thicker at 1/4", but this will result in fewer cookies (in any event, you are going to have leftover syrup). Cut with your favorite cookie cutter or mould.
Bake in a 350 degree Fahrenheit oven for 15-20 minutes until browned. Allow to cool.
Step 4: Alfajores, Assemble! :)
Spoon syrup onto an upside-down cooke and cover with a rightside-up cookie. Assemble until all cookies have been used. There will be some syrup left over, which is incredible on ice cream, pancakes, and in cheesecake.
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