Step aside, Bezos. There’s a new king in town. All hail the Billionaire Alfajores with Toasted Coconut! These soft, buttery, crumbly cookies sandwich a thick layer of homemade dulce de leche and are finished with a dark chocolate drizzle and toasted coconut. They are so rich and luxurious you’ll feel like a billion bucks the moment you sink your teeth in! This recipes adapts a personal Yuletide favorite: Millionaire Shortbread, with one of the most beloved cookies of lands abroad: Alfajores.
What are Alfajores?
A Brief History
Alfajor cookies have a long history and have been making appearances across the globe for centuries. In fact, the word alfajor, albeit using a different spelling, was first noted by a Spaniard in 1492. For all we know, Christopher Columbus had a fanny pack full of these bad boys when he arrived to the New World! ...Okay, probably not. However, these cookies DID find their way to the New World and WOW, are we thankful!
Admittedly, these New World variations look a lot different than their European ancestors. While the Spanish variations are cylindrical confections made of breadcrumbs, flour, nuts, honey and spices, this Billionaire Alfajor recipe best resembles the dulce de leche sandwich cookies found in Latin America. These alfajores are a beloved cultural tradition and consist of two shortbread style cookies filled with dulce de leche. Today, they are gaining popularity all over the world but are best known in South American countries like Peru, Bolivia and Argentina.
Two Cookies are Better Than One
The only thing better than one cookie is two cookies. And the only thing better than two cookies is two cookies sandwiched with dulce de leche. Facts. The cookie dough for this Billionaire Alfajores recipe is a lot like a shortbread cookie: lots of butter, not too sweet, and easy as pie. (Or should we say cookie?). The main difference between this recipe and our go-to shortbread recipe is the addition of coconut flour (for flavor!) and cornstarch (for texture!). The addition of cornstarch to this recipe results in tender, melt-in-your-mouth cookies with a delicate, sandy crumb. They almost don’t need the dulce de leche. Almost.
So, What is Dulce de Leche?
Dulce de Leche verses Caramel: What are the differences?
- car·a·mel (noun): a sweet dessert sauce or candy made of sugar or sugar syrup that is cooked until browned. Butter and cream may be added to create softer, richer variations.
- dul·ce de le·che (noun): candy made from milk; a Latin American confection made from slowly heating and reducing sweetened milk until non-enzymatic browning occurs
Dulce de leche is the gooey, caramelized confection made from sweetened condensed milk. Depending on which side of the Andes you fall on, you may know this sugary treat better as manjar blanco. Meaning “candy of milk”, dulce de leche (or manjar blanco for the Westerners) closely resembles caramel. Caramel, however, can be made quickly with nothing more than granulated sugar. To the contrary, the richer and creamier confection of dulce de leche takes several hours on the stovetop (or in the oven) to achieve the deep color and desired flavor. For the Billionaire Alfajores with Toasted Coconut, we like to cook the dulce de leche until it is deeply browned and a scoop-able thickness. While lighter, runnier dulce de leche makes a lovely dessert sauce - thick, shape-holding dulce de leche is essential for binding these alfajores together.
How to Make Homemade Dulce de Leche
3 Different Ways to Make Dulce de Leche from Sweetened Condensed Milk
Sure, you could buy the pre-made stuff but why not treat yourself to the endless pleasures of homemade dulce de leche sandwich cookies? Here are three of our favorite easy ways to make dulce de leche right in your own kitchen. Feel free to make a few cans ahead of time and keep them ready-to-go in the pantry for whenever inspiration strikes. Get the full instructions in our recipe below.
- Stovetop: Dulce de Leche can be made in the can on the stovetop! Even though is takes 3 - 5 hours to complete, this is the easiest method and produces creamy, lump-free candy. Check out our safety tips below!
- Oven: If you are not comfortable boiling the whole can of sweetened condensed milk, you can use the oven to make dulce de leche! With this method, you will transfer your sweetened condensed milk into an oven-safe dish. Cook the sweetened condensed milk in a water bath for several hours, stirring occasionally. This method is a great way to monitor the caramelization, coloring and thickness of your dulce de leche but can create a few scorched lumps.
- Pressure Cooker or Instant Pot: If you are tight on time the pressure cooker is the fastest method for making dulce de leche! The pressure cooker/instant pot can transform your sweetened condensed milk in just 40 minutes! This is our recommended way to make dulce de leche for billionaire alfajores! Keep reading for keeping it safe!
Is it Safe to Boil a Can of Sweetened Condensed Milk? YES!
Safe Practices for Boiling Dulce do Leche on the Stovetop or Pressure Cooker
We understand you may be a little hesitant to throw that canned good on the fire for so long. However, we assure you it is totally safe and could not be any easier! Read these tips and tricks to ensure your safety!
- Remove the label and sticky adhesive from the can of sweetened condensed milk (NOT evaporated milk)!
- Check the can for any dents, improper seals or deformities. DO NOT BOIL ANY DAMAGED CANS!
- For the stovetop method: Lay the can on its side! Yup, the round part! Standing the can upright will result in a terrible rattling sound that WILL drive you cuckoo for the next 4 hours. *More of a sanity tip than a safety tip, we suppose.
- Make sure the can is CONSTANTLY covered with water. Uncovered cans will create uneven temperatures that run the risk of explosion! For the stovetop method, we set a timer to top off our boiling water every 30 minutes. For the pressure cooker method, fill your pot to the MAX water level before processing.
- Allow the can to cool in the water completely before proceeding. Not only is that can HOT but it is also filled with boiling sugar. If you are using the pressure cooker, release all of the pressure, remove the lid and then let cool. Furthermore, the dulce de leche will continue to thicken as it cools and needs to be thick and room (or refrigerator) temperature before filling your alfajores. It’s worth the wait! We promise.
Dark Chocolate and a Sprinkle of Toasted Coconut
The modern day pastalero (pastry chef) has come up with endless variations of the crowd-pleasing alfajor cookie. Baking spices like cinnamon are commonplace but more adventurous preparations using nuts, fruits and seeds are no longer unlikely. For this Billionaire Alfajores with Toasted Coconut recipe, we are utilizing well-known alfajores flavors with a chic, elegant presentation. For a more classic appearance, roll the edges of your cookie in toasted coconut or opt for the decadent full-cookie dip in melted chocolate. Personally, we enjoy the more subtle notes of a dark chocolate drizzle and modest sprinkle of coconut, as pictured. However you choose to decorate, we know you’ll love bringing this South American favorite into your own family’s traditions.
How to Temper Dark Chocolate for Glossy Perfection
Properly tempering chocolate can be tricky, to say the least. Tempering is the process of gently warming, cooling and rewarming chocolate to specific temperatures so that the molecules do not separate and result in a perfectly glossy chocolate. It is a true art form and we’d be lying if we told you we were experts.
If you’d like to forgo the worry and the glossy perfection,
You can simply melt the chocolate in 15 second intervals in the microwave, stirring in between cook times until smooth.
You can add a teaspoon, or so, of coconut oil to thin the chocolate to a drizzling consistency, if needed.
If you would like to properly temper the chocolate, check out these instructions below. We recommend choosing a high-quality dark chocolate that is worthy of your efforts.
- Set up a double boiler over gently simmering water. Be sure that the water does not touch the bowl with your chocolate in it.
- Make sure all of your equipment is completely clean and dry. Water will seize your chocolate and render it un-useable.
- While stirring constantly, heat your dark chocolate to 120 degrees Fahrenheit (49 degrees celsius).
- Remove from heat and continue stirring until the dark chocolate has cooled to 82 degrees Fahrenheit (27 degrees celsius).
- Keep stirring while you return the chocolate to the double boiler. Rewarm the dark chocolate to 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32 degrees celsius).
- Use your chocolate at this temperature and smile back at your reflection on that flawless gloss!
Share Your Success!
We can’t wait for you to try this Billionaire Alfajores with Toasted Coconut recipe for yourself. These buttery, tender cookies sandwiched with rich, dulce de leche are the perfect special occasion cookie, after school snack or midnight indulgence.When this recipe makes its way to your table, be sure to drop us a star rating! And, as always, mention @foodworthfeed or tag #foodworthfeed in your Instagram posts and stories! We’d love to feature you on social! We love having a seat at your table, you’ll always have one at ours. Cheers!
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