Little Peruvian alfajores

AT A GLANCE

  • Serves 15 people

Alfajores are served in various forms throughout Latin America. What they have in common is their delicious, melt-in-the-mouth texture. In Peru, they're sandwiched with a milk caramel called manjar blanco, which is similar to dulce de leche but paler in colour. We've made our own here, but shop-bought dulce de leche works just as well. It's worth rendering your own lard for this recipe - it makes so much difference to the flavour, but if you're serving vegetarians, by all means swap the lard for butter.

  • 525 gm (3½ cups) plain flour
  • 2 tbsp icing sugar, sieved, plus extra for dusting
  • 250 gm lard (see note)
  • Desiccated coconut, to serve
  •  
  • Manjar blanco
  • 110 gm (1/2 cup) caster sugar
  • 10 gm butter, diced
  • Scraped seeds of 1 vanilla bean
  • 1/8 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 500 ml (2 cups) milk
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp liquid glucose
01   For manjar blanco, heat caster sugar, butter, vanilla seeds, bicarbonate of soda and 125ml milk in a saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Bring to the boil and cook, stirring continuously, until mixture turns caramel (5-7 minutes). Add another 125ml milk and brown sugar, and stir until mixture thickens (4-5 minutes). Add glucose and remaining milk, reduce heat to low and stir until thick (25-30 minutes). Remove from heat, stir for 5 minutes until slightly cooled, then transfer to a container, cover and refrigerate until chilled and thick. Manjar blanco will keep refrigerated for a month.
02   Preheat oven to 180C. Combine flour, icing sugar and ½ tsp salt in a bowl, add lard and cut in with a knife or pastry scraper until coarse crumbs form. Add 60ml lukewarm water and mix to combine (if mixture is still too dry, add a splash of extra water). Turn out onto a work surface and bring dough together. Form into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate to rest for 30 minutes.
03   Roll pastry on a lightly floured work surface to 5mm thick, cut out 5cm rounds with a pastry cutter (we used a fluted cutter), place on a baking tray lined with baking paper and bake until set but not coloured (10-12 minutes). Cool on tray.
04   To serve, spread or pipe manjar blanco on half the biscuits, scatter coconut around the edges, then sandwich with remaining biscuits and dust with icing sugar.
NoteTo render lard, cook chopped pork back-fat in a saucepan over low heat with 5mm water (to prevent burning) until the fat renders, then strain and refrigerate until solid. It can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a month.

Topics:

VANILLA, LATIN AMERICAN, ALFAJORES, WINTER, DESSERT

Recipe:

EMMA KNOWLES

Photography:

WILLIAM MEPPEM

Styling:

LUCY TWEED

FEATURED IN

Jul 2016

Jul 2016

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