Peruvian dessert - AlfajoresI've said it before and I'll say it again, Lima is home of a huge variety of traditional desserts. I already showed you Mazamorra which is made out of our very peculiar purple maize. This time I want to introduce you to a very different dessert, an easy delight for all the people who enjoy baking every once in a while.
I remember when I was a little boy. I was an only child and lived alone with my mother so every weekend she'd take me to the mall where she had her hair done. After they were done with her, on our way to the car, we'd stop by a bakery and most of the times she's buy me a treat which was very sweet, very tasty. I'd receive it onside a napkin pocket and I'd go at it trying not to make too much of a mess.
I'm talkin about the alfajor. Basically an alfajor is nothing for than a sandwich of sorts, at least that is the principle. You are not using bread nor jam here. The key ingredient to the alfajor is blancmange (what we in Peru know as manjarblanco). For those who have never heard of it, like my friend Sury, blancmange or manjarblanco is basicaly cooked condensed milk. You take a can of Nestle condensed milk, put it inside a pot with boiling water and two hours later when you open the can you will see that the milk is thicker... and brown. This is blancmange.
The other part of the alfajor are the "lids", mainly two cookie like discs. You make a wheat flour based dough, let it rest, then go back and work the dough with a rolling pin (as if you were preparing the crust for a pie). When your dough is flat and nice (1/2 cm thick) you take a round cutter (or a glass) and u cut several discs. Make sure you cut in pairs. Put them on a tray, pinch them with a fork so they don't inflate, and take to the oven. After about half an hour you take them out of the oven and you let them cool down completely.
The making of the alfajor itself is very simple. Just imagine you are eating a cracker with jam. Take a knife, scoop up some blancmange and spread it onto a lid. For best results the blancmange should be thick. You do this with another lid and then bring them together as if it was a sandwich. Then just make sure you clean the edges. Finally, the finishing touches. Powdered sugar, tons of it. Sprinkle it generously on both sides of the alfajor till it's completely white. Another finishing touch: shredded coconut. Put some on a plate and roll the edge of the lfajor so the coconut sticks to the blancmange. And there you go. You can also try adding a bit of shredded lemon skin to ur dough mix and you'll get alfajores with a very tasty hint of sour.
Make them big, or tiny. I've seen then small as a nickel or big as a coaster; perfectly round or with little protrusions, like an asterisk or star. Whichever shape and size, dig in. You will like them.