7 Christmas Bakes with Philippa Davis: #1 Alfajores

PUBLISHED: 20:42 17 November 2020 | UPDATED: 21:12 17 November 2020

Alfajores - a festive cookie in South America and Spain Photo: Philippa Davis

Alfajores - a festive cookie in South America and Spain Photo: Philippa Davis


Follow this authentic recipe to make these irrestible shortbread-like cookies that are a festive treat in South America and Spain

After you taste one of these irresistible shortbread-like cookies which are sandwiched together with caramel sauce and rolled in coconut, you will see why they are so incredibly popular in South America. Originally made by the Moors in the Middle East, the Spanish took the recipe to South America around the 1660’s. For linguist enthusiasts the roots for any Spanish word beginning with ‘al’ can traced back to Arabic. ‘Alfajores’ comes from ‘al-hasú which means ‘filling’. Traditionally they are filled with ducle de leche, but for this recipe I have used a selection of scrumptious Ajar Of sweet sauces, all made in Dorset, including: rum spiced sea salted caramel, dark chocolate sea salted caramel, Banoffee and Dorset sea salted caramel. Alfajores are best eaten two days after making but few people, including myself could ever wait that long!

Alfajores uses Dorset made Ajar Of sweet caramel sauces Photo: Philippa DavisAlfajores uses Dorset made Ajar Of sweet caramel sauces Photo: Philippa Davis

Makes approximately 25 completed cookies

200g butter

100g caster sugar

2 free range egg yolks

2 oranges, zest only

2 tsp vanilla extract

140g self-raising flour

250g cornflour

300g caramel sauce - try Ajar Of

25g desiccated coconut or finely blitzed coconut chips


1 With an electric whisk beat together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Mix in the yolks, orange zest and vanilla then add the flours and mix until just combined, it will be quite a soft dough. Using your hands form into a disk, wrap in cling film and chill for 1 hour.

2 Line two flat baking with baking parchment. Roll the dough out so it’s just a little thicker than a £1 coin. Cut out 5cm circles, you should get about 50, and place them on the baking sheets. Prick each biscuit twice with a fork then place the sheets with the circles back in the fridge for 30 minutes to chill. Pre heat the oven to 160°C fan/gas mark 4.

3 Bake for 16 minutes, swapping the trays around in the oven half way through cooking, they should be cooked but remain fairly pale.

4 Leave to cool on the tray then carefully use a spoonful of caramel to sandwich two together, making sure it reaches the edge so you can roll the sides in a little coconut.

My top tips for perfect bakes

- Weigh out all your ingredients before you start mixing, it’s easy to get distracted and forget to put one in.

- When chilling doughs for rolling out at a later stage, form into discs rather than balls as they chill quicker, more evenly and are easier to roll out.

- Even new ovens tend to bake slightly unevenly so I usually swap around the baking sheets half way through cooking.

Philippa Davis is an international private chef and food writer, who when not travelling the world, is in Dorset. Follow her food adventures on Instagram

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