A traditional Latin American sandwich cookie that will melt in your mouth, this dairy-free, gluten-free alfajores recipe will leave you wanting more. The delicious caramel-like Argentinian gluten free alfajores are made with cornstarch and filled with creamy dulce de leche or Meyer lemon curd.
This post is a partnership with JDC Entwine. I was compensated monetarily for my work. Yet you can always count on me to only work with companies and products I love!
The first time I tried alfajores
The first time I tried alfajores was in a small cafe in a hip young neighborhood in Buenos Aires.
It was the afternoon rush hour. Suited unshaven businessmen with polished leather Oxfords jostled for counter space. Besides them sat teenagers in school uniform, backpacks carelessly slung off one shoulder.
Cautiously, I ordered in broken Spanish, "un cappuccino y un alfajor." Pointing to one of the chocolate-covered cookies hidden under a glass dome helped.
Coincidentally, the server, in a black vest worn snugly overtop of a white tailored shirt, was more of a bartender. While already taking another customer's order, he nodded absentmindedly at me.
Shortly after, a steaming cappuccino was deposited in front of me on a small white coaster. Alongside it was an alfajor cookie, a small Duralex glass of soda and a snow-white paper napkin.
The History of Argentinian Alfajores
That first bite was heavenly. Initially, the crumbly sandwich fell apart in my mouth, depositing melting particles of sugar and dough on my tongue. Then the decadently sweet dulce de leche filling flooded my sense. I chased it immediately with a sip of strong cappuccino.
If you had told me that somewhere in the background a choir of angels began to sing, I wouldn't have doubted you for a moment. It was that good.
The ultimate Argentinian dessert, the alfajor cookie, made its way to Latin America from Spain. It was inherited from the Arabic bakers of the 15th century. Today, it is a popular confection that can be found in different iterations. Versions vary from cheap drugstore versions to artisanal, highly sophisticated cookies made by some of Argentina’s top bake houses.
During my time in Argentina, I sampled many of the finest specimen, even bringing boxes home as gifts.
But it took a call from JDC Entwine, with whom I first went to Argentina, to try and recreate my own.
Gluten Free Alfajores
I'm happy to share with you one of my favorite recipes: dairy-free and gluten-free alfajores with two dairy-free fillings.
My gluten-free alfajores recipe uses two different fillings.
Traditionalists will love the ubiquitous sweet alfajores with vegan dulce de leche.
For more modern eaters, there's a zesty, special Meyer lemon curd alfajores.
Whichever filling you choose, these Passover dairy-free alfajores are a perfect way to close a decadent meal.
Ingredients for gluten free Argentinian alfajores
For vegan dulce de leche:
- sweetened condensed coconut milk
For dairy-free Meyer lemon curd:
- Lemon juice
- coconut oil
- eggs and egg yolks
For gluten-free Passover alfajores:
- egg yolks
- vegan butter
- cornstarch, arrowroot, or tapioca starch if avoiding kitniyot
- some baking powder
- vegan dulce de leche OR Meyer lemon curd
- grated coconut
- 1 Large pot
- 1 Saucepan
- Baking sheet
- Mixing bowls
- offset spatula
- Measuring cups
- Measuring spoons
- Parchment paper OR
- silicone mat
Directions for Argentinian gluten free alfajores
Cooking the vegan alfajores dulce de leche filling:
Place the whole can of sweetened condensed coconut milk into a high-rimmed pot. Pour enough water to cover, plus 1-inch over. Cover the pot and cook over high heat. Once the water reaches a boil, turn it down to low to maintain a gentle simmer.
Continue cooking for 3.5 hours, maintaining a simmer the whole time through. Continuously check to ensure that the water level does not go down. If the water evaporates, add water to ensure it can remain submerged by at least one inch.
After cooking the vegan dulce de leche
After 3.5 hours, remove the creamy dulce de leche from the heat. Let the water cool, and remove the can with tongs once cooled. Warning: do not attempt to open or move the can while hot, as it could explode! Place the can for your vegan dulce de leche in the fridge to cool and thicken before continuing to make the alfajores, which will later be filled with vegan alfajores dulce de leche filling.
Cooking the dairy-free Meyer lemon curd
Warm lemon juice, sugar, and coconut oil in a medium saucepan. Stir the mixture consistently at a medium speed to prevent burning, and continue until the coconut oil is completely melted. Next, stir together the eggs and yolks in a medium-sized bowl.
After the lemon juice mixture is warm and the coconut oil is melted, slowly pour it into the egg mixture, and whisk it together.
When the lemon-egg mixture is fully combined, put it back into the saucepan. Stir it constantly for about 2 minutes until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula. Gently transfer the resulting lemon curd from the heat.
Strain the curd
Transfer lemon zest into a large bowl and set a strainer over the bowl. Quickly whisk the mixture with a spatula to strain the curd into the zest.
Stir the curd a few times to allow it to begin cooling, and let it rest. Put your dairy-free filling Meyer lemon curd in the refrigerator until ready to fill those alfajores.
Making the dough for gluten-free alfajores
In a large bowl, beat the sugar and eggs. Next, add butter and whip just until combined.
In a separate bowl, sift baking powder and starch together.
Next, add the two mixtures together. Fold the new mixture with a spatula until combined, then knead the dough with your hands a few times to ensure full incorporation.
Cover the bowl and place the dough in the fridge for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight.
Shape the dough
When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).
Remove dough from refrigerator. Dust your work surface and rolling pin with starch, and place dough on the lightly floured surface. Roll the dough into a thin layer. Using a circular cookie cutter, cut the layers of dough into as many circles as possible.
Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper. Transfer dough circles to the sheet using a very thin offset spatula, leaving a bit of room for them to expand.
Bake aflajores cookies
Bake for 7-8 minutes. When cookies are done baking and are firm and slightly golden at the bottom, remove them from the oven and leave them on the sheet to cool for about 10 minutes.
Adding the filling
Once the biscuits have cooled completely, using a teaspoon or a piping bag, place a teaspoon of the dairy free filling of your choice on the bottom of one cookie and cover with another, creating a sandwich.
Roll the sides of each cookie in grated coconut, adhering it to the dulce de leche.
I love using store-bought caramel or Nutella if you're looking for other filling options. This rhubarb curd is also excellent.
You can store the cookies in a tightly sealed container for a few days—up to 5 days.
Tried and loved this recipe? Please leave a 5-star review below! Your reviews mean a lot to me, so if you've got any questions, please let me know in a comment.
The answer is yes! If you have leftover delicious caramel-like alfajores, you can freeze them to extend their shelf life. To do this, wrap each cookie individually in plastic wrap or place them in an airtight container before freezing. This will help prevent freezer burn and ensure your gluten-free alfajores remain fresh until you’re ready to eat them!
They are essentially two shortbread cookies sandwiched together with a delicious dulce de leche filling. They are made with simple ingredients like cornstarch, sugar, butter, eggs, and salt. The outer layer of the cookie is made with cornstarch and can be flavored with spices such as cinnamon, or simply left plain. Many alfajores are also gluten-free, making them accessible to those with dietary restrictions. The dough is then rolled out very thin and filled with either dulce de leche or jam before being cut into small circles.
Traditional alfajores are South American cookies originating from Argentina and Uruguay, becoming increasingly popular worldwide. The filling can range from dulce de leche to jams or fruit curds for the light and fluffy traditional Argentinian cookie. There is a gluten free recipe option for those with dietary restrictions. The cookies are often topped with coconut flakes, powdered sugar, or chocolate, making them even more delicious! Alfajores have become so popular that many countries now make their versions of the classic treat, using local ingredients and flavors to create something unique. No matter where they're from, the caramel cookie sandwich remains a favorite worldwide!
Yes, you can make gluten-free alfajores ahead of time. This recipe is great if you want to prepare it in advance for a special occasion or just for a regular night at home. It takes about an hour to prepare and assemble the ingredients, and then you can store them in the fridge until you are ready to bake. Making alfajores ahead of time allows you to enjoy the flavors without having to worry about making them last minute. Additionally, they keep well and will stay moist until they are served. So if you're looking for a gluten-free dessert that can be prepared in advance, try making alfajores.
I prefer tapioca starch or arrowroot powder. Potato starch has a more sandy texture that works better for savory dishes like apple potato latkes.
Dairy-free gluten-free alfajores
- 1 Saucepan
- offset spatula
- silicone mat
Vegan dulce de leche
- 1 can sweetened condensed coconut milk
Dairy-free Meyer lemon curd
- Zest of 2 lemons
- Juice of 2 lemons about 1 cup
- ½ cup sugar
- ¾ cup of coconut oil
- 4 large eggs
- 4 large egg yolks
Gluten-free Passover alfajores
- 4 egg yolks
- ¼ cup sugar
- ⅔ cup vegan butter
- 2½ cups cornstarch or arrowroot or tapioca starch if avoiding kitniyot
- 4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 can vegan dulce de leche OR 1 cup Meyer lemon curd
- ¼ cup grated coconut
Vegan dulce de leche
- Place the whole can of sweetened condensed coconut milk into a high-rimmed pot. Pour enough water to cover, plus 1-inch over.
- Cover pot and cook over high heat. Once the water reaches a boil, immediately turn down to low to maintain a gentle simmer.
- Continue cooking for 3.5 hours, maintaining a simmer the whole time through.
- Continuously check to ensure that the water level does not go down. If water evaporates, add additional water to ensure can remains submerged by at least one inch.
- After 3.5 hours, remove from heat. Let water cool and remove can with tongs once cooled - do not attempt to open or move can while hot as it could explode. Place the can in fridge to cool and thicken before continuing to make the alfajores.
Dairy-free Meyer lemon curd
- In a medium saucepan, warm lemon juice, sugar, and coconut oil, stirring occasionally to prevent burning, until the oil is completely melted.
- In a medium-sized bowl, stir together the eggs and yolks.
- When the lemon juice mixture is warm and the coconut oil is melted, gradually pour it slowly into the eggs, whisking constantly.
- When the lemon-egg mixture is fully combined, transfer it back into the saucepan and cook, stirring constantly, for about 2 minutes, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula. Remove the resulting lemon curd from heat.
- Transfer lemon zest into a large bowl. Set a strainer over the bowl. Working quickly and whisking constantly with a spatula, strain the curd into the zest.
- Stir the curd a few times to allow it to begin cooling, and let it rest for about 10 minutes. Transfer to refrigerator until ready to fill alfajores.
Gluten-free Passover alfajores
- In a large bowl, beat sugar and eggs with an electric mixer for around 4 minutes. Add butter and whip just until combined, about 1 minute.
- In a separate bowl, sift baking powder and starch together twice. Add mixture to the egg, butter and sugar mixture.
- Fold the mixture with a spatula until combined, then knead the dough with your hands a few times to ensure fully incorporation.
- Cover bowl and place dough in the fridge for at least 2 hours - or preferably overnight.
- When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350F.
- Remove dough from refrigerator. Dust your work surface and rolling pin with starch, and place dough on surface. Roll dough out into a thin layer, around ¼ of an inch.
- Using a circular cookie cutter, cut out as many circles as possible.
- Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper. Using a very thin offset spatula, transfer dough circles to sheet, leaving a bit of room for them to expand.
- Bake for 7-8 minutes. When cookies are done baking and are firm and slightly golden at the bottom, remove from oven and leave on sheet to cool for about 10 minutes.
- Once the biscuits have cooled completely, using a teaspoon or a piping bag, place a teaspoon of vegan dulce de leche or dairy-free meyer lemon curd on the bottom of one cookie and cover with another, creating a sandwich.
- Roll the sides of each cookie in grated coconut, adhering it to the dulce de leche.
- Cookies will keep in a tightly sealed container for a few days.