alfajores payes – TSP christmas cookie week

stackbutton2It’s 1.23am on Friday 20th December, 2013. Instead of getting ready for bed, I’m kneading a batch of cinnamon shortbread dough. Why? Well, firstly because I promised you a recipe for alfajores payes in this post from almost a fortnight ago. Secondly, because I kinda like my friend Erin from The Speckled Palate.

Erin’s hosting a Christmas Cookie Week this week and today’s the deadline for adding to the gorgeous stack of delights including salted caramel thumbprint cookies, vanilla bean shortbread cookies and classic coconut macaroons (all recipes available via the Christmas Cookie Week link). As abovementioned, by contribution to this week’s cookie goodness is a recipe for alfajores payes, chocolate-coated Argentinean shortbread cookies filled with thick salted dulce de leche caramel.

spreading dish

The recipe I’ve included for alfajores payes was originally sourced here from The Gourmet Traveller. After completing a trial batch, I made some minor changes including a reduction in the diameter of the cookies (my first batch were 6.5cm but I found them to be a little too large, so I’ve reduced the measurement in the recipe to 5.5cm), doubling the amount of cinnamon for spiced goodness (from 1/4 to 1/2 tsp) and adding a sprinkling of sea salt atop the dulce de leche before sandwiching the cookies together (the little ‘pop’ of sea salt flakes adds a gorgeous layer of complexity to this already divine Argentinean biscuit).

I also chose to make the shortbread dough by hand rather than with a food processor, because… well, I’m a bit like that. Floured hands, cold butter and a wooden bench make me feel like I’m doing good in the world.


You may also notice that I’ve dipped my sandwich biscuits into the tempered chocolate rather than spreading it with a pastry brush. This was mainly due to being time poor, however I have included both techniques in the recipe text below. The advantage of brush application is that the top and bottom layers of chocolate set independently, creating a neater finish. Dipping each biscuit is far more efficient but will likely create a ‘foot’ of chocolate that pools as the liquid sets.

As this will likely be my last post before the Christmas arrives, I’d like to wish everyone a blessed, merry and peaceful Christmas week. Thanks for the Christmas wishes and inspiration over the past month!


Alfajores Payes (cinnamon shortbread with caramel filling)

Makes 24 sandwich biscuits.

*Begin this recipe one day ahead.


  • 2 cups (300g) plain flour, sieved
  • 1/4 cup (40g) pure icing sugar, sieved
  • 250g cold unsalted butter
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

Dulce de leche filling:

  • 395g can sweetened condensed milk, unopened
  • 1 tsp sea salt flakes

To serve:

  • pure icing sugar, to dust, or
  • 150g tempered melted dark chocolate (65% cocoa solids), to coat

For the dulce de leche: Place the can of condensed milk in a large saucepan. Cover with cold water. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, then cook, covered with a weighted lid, over low heat for 3 1/2 hours. Do not uncover or touch the can whilst it cooks as it may explode.

Turn off the heat, then leave to cool completely (for at least 2 hours) before removing the can. Ensure that the can is completely cold before opening it. Transfer the caramel to a bowl, add in 1/2 tsp sea salt flakes and stir to combine completely. Cover and refrigerate whilst you make your biscuits.

For the shortbread biscuits: Combine flour, sugar, cinnamon and 1/4 tsp fine sea salt in a bowl. Dice the butter and add it to the dry mixture gradually, rubbing it in until the mixture comes together. Knead until a dough forms, then wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes or until firm.

Roll the dough out to 5mm thickness on a floured work surface, then cut into rounds using an upturned glass or a 5.5cm diameter cookie cutter (re-roll the scraps). Transfer to flat, even baking trays lined with baking paper, then refrigerate for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 180 degrees C. Remove the biscuits from the refrigerator once chilled, and transfer directly to oven. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden. Cool for 5 minutes on the tray, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

To serve: Spread half of the cookies with dulce de leche. Sprinkle on a few flakes of the extra sea salt, then top with the remaining biscuits. Place onto a wire rack.


Temper your chocolate (I’m not going to go into the finer details here, see David Lebovitz’s guide or my friend Trixie’s blog for instructions), then brush one half and sides of each biscuit with melted chocolate.

dip dipped

Tempered chocolate cools fast, so if you’ve processed your chocolate properly the coating should set within the hour. Turn over and brush the other side with melted chocolate, stand until set (as explained above, I placed all of my melted chocolate into a shallow bowl and dipped half of each biscuit into it. After allowing excess chocolate to drain, I placed the biscuits onto lined trays to set).


Store your biscuits in an airtight container in a cool place for up to four days.


A huge thanks to the gorgeous Erin also for the opportunity to participate in the event that is Christmas Cookie Week. Make sure you check out The Speckled Palate‘s official link for much more cookie goodness!

92 responses

  1. Yay! I’ve been waiting for this post, and my son will absolutely be pestering me to make these for him. I’m with you – I wouldn’t dream of using my food processor for dough. That’s one of my favourite tasks, and excellent incidental exercise too! These look so, so good Laura; and I love your additions, especially the pop of sea salt flakes. I’ve never attempted to make dulce de leche, but I plan to rectify that. An explosion warning is quite exciting in the context of a recipe! Wishing you a lovely Christmas Laura. See you next year! xx

    • Very good point about the incidental exercise, so true! I love making dough, it’s heaps of fun… I sort of feel like a prairie housewife for half an hour or so :) Hope that you enjoy making these when you get a chance. The dulce de leche was very simple in spite of the explosion warning! Merry Christmas Sas, definitely look forward to another year of cooking adventures xx

  2. Laura, so beautiful … the photos … want to lick my fingers now or the bowl *smile – not a baking person ..and if I was I would be every bigger than I’m today, so I’m so thankful for not liking baking. Gain a couple of pounds through reading your post here.
    My Christmas Greeting will be posted this weekend, so I wait until then with all my wishes.

    • Haha, I am very glad that you can’t gain weight through reading food blogs, I’d be very fat if you could! These were beautiful biscuits, I loved every bite. It’s great that you don’t like to bake though as it definitely prevents overindulgence :) Merry Christmas Viveka, it was lovely to see your card on the blog! I look forward to more adventures in the new year xx

      • Laura, your post is just indulgence – in what ever you post and I just love to land in your world of great food, cakes and cookies. So I’m really looking forward to what your world will give for 2014. *smile

  3. Oh, those look so good! I wish I had a plate of them for breakfast. Merry Christmas to you and yours. May you have a blessed week. xx

    • Haha, breakfast cookies… definitely! They’ve got dairy, carbs… perfectly balanced for sure! Thanks for journeying through this blogging year with me Julie, I hope that you have a beautiful Christmas and a happy new year! xx

  4. I love this! Like every other visitor to Argentina we became obsessed by alfajores, and dulce de leche. Unfortunately customs confuscated our dulce de leche supply but somehow the alfajores made it back into the country. They didn’t last long though and I’ve been meaning to make them ever since – had my eye on the same GT recipe!

    Or maybe I’ll just eat dulce de leche. By the spoonful. Making this would be dangerous, but so very, very good….

    Have a wonderful Christmas, and if I’m offline for the next week or so have a fabulous new year too!!

    • What? Weird that they confiscated the dulce de leche, Australian quarantine is a bit nonsensical at times. I’ve never been to Argentina but the GT recipe turned out really well… not sure how they’d compare to the true Argentinean version but I loved every bite! Merry Christmas lovely, hope that you guys have a fantastic holiday season x

  5. Gorgeous post and lovely pictures! I admire your dedication: making biscuits at 1.23am is exceedingly noble. And what lovely biscuits they are – I’ve never heard of them but they look to die for.

    I totally agree with making shortbread by hand (and pastry, and crumble) – you feel when it’s right and it’s so much more fun :)

    And is that tempered chocolate, you say??? Um, COINCIDENCE: (brazen advertising of my blog on yours. Eeeeep :shock: )

    • Trix! Yep if I knew that you had just done a post on tempered chocolate I would have linked you in. In fact, I might just do that NOW (well, after I finish this reply). Loved your chocolate posts by the way, they were beautifully done. And as for the pastry, yes I completely agree. Working dough is somewhat therapeutic! Have a fantastic Christmas, looking forward to more adventures in the new year! xxx

    • Thanks Trina, I appreciate the kind words! I guess that most of us bloggers can relate to the late night baking episodes. Fun but exhausting in some ways! Thanks for taking the time to comment on my blog, have a wonderful Christmas and a happy new year x

  6. 1.23am, is there a better time to be in the kitchen whipping up a batch of delicious cookies? I think not. Another awesome post with stunning pictures! Have a great Christmas :)

    • Hahaaa… yep, I agree (despite the sleepiness at work the next day!). Hope that you and your family had an awesome Christmas Matt, and that the start of the new year will be one of the best yet! Thanks for being an awesome blogging friend.

      • And this is why coffee was discovered :-) Thank you! We had a great Christmas lots of food, beer and good company… Also a new set of knives which I’m dying to try out! I hope you had a great Christmas too. We will have to plan this BBQ… Maybe late jan/ early feb.

  7. Oh, Laura. These are just too gorgeous for words, and I am beyond thrilled that you had a chance to make these beautiful little babies before the close of Christmas Cookie Week because they sound just perfect. As in, I think I’m making a batch tomorrow at my mom’s house because that sounds like the right thing to do right now.

    Thank you SO much for participating, lovely, and for spreading the Christmas cheer. I hope you and yours have an amazing holiday!

    • Aw, thanks so much Erin. It was a privilege to be part of the Christmas Cookie Week, I loved seeing everyone else’s beautiful creations (including yours!). Hope that you had a beautiful Christmas and all the best for the new year’s beginning next week (gasp! Cannot believe how fast this year has gone by). Hugs xx

      • You’re so welcome! Christmas Cookie Week was a smashing success, and I’m just so thankful you and so many others joined in on the fun! I agree with you on seeing everyone else’s beautiful creations… and now, I want to bake a TON!

        Yes, we had a lovely Christmas, and I hope yours was beautiful, too, and that you have a happy New Year! It’s incredible how quickly 2014 is sneaking up on us!

    • I did dive into the dulce de leche, metaphorically… most of it is in my stomach now. Entirely worth it! Hope that you and your family had a gorgeous Christmas Jen, all the best for the new year! Thanks for being such an awesome blogging friend, you’ve inspired me no end this year xx

  8. Pingback: TSP Christmas Cookie Week 2013 Roundup!

  9. Dear Laura, salted dulce die lece is among the most seducing words in my ears, and so are your gorgeous Christmas cookies. I have missed a lot of your wonderful and always so beautifully photographed recipes in recent times as I had no time for blogging and reading, but I am most happy that I didn’t miss these cookies. Have a wonderful Christmas time!

    • Thanks so much for the sweet words Claudia, I am so grateful. I was exactly the same, I got so wrapped up in life’s responsibilities that I hardly had time to check in with all of my favourite bloggers. But that’s the beauty of the internet, we can always catch up with each other when life slows down a bit. I hope that you and your loved ones had a beautiful Christmas! All the best for new year next week xx

  10. I’m loving these photos, Laura! And, of course, the cookies. I haven’t heard of alfajores pages before, but it sounds divine… and the midnight kneading of shortbread dough is perhaps only fellow food bloggers will be able to fully understand ;) That’s the holiday spirit!

    • Hi Irina! Thanks so much for the kind words. I hadn’t heard of alfajores prior to this year, but they’re such a delicious cookie… worth the midnight cookie baking! Haha, and yes, it’s wonderful to know that you guys understand the whole midnight food preparation thing. We are a strange but wonderful bunch. Sending you hugs, hope that you had a beautiful Christmas and happy new year for next week! xx

  11. Laura – I love these cinnamon biscuits! I mean, I love the whole alfajores package dipped in chocolate an all… but the cinnamon biscuits really appeal for dipping in cocoa! Merry Christmas! Hope you habe a wonderful holiday!

    • Oh, what a fabulous idea David! I often forget that not everyone is sweltering in the heat like me at the moment… at present I am sitting in the air conditioning, drinking ice water whilst trying to stay as inanimate as possible! They’d be wonderful with hot cocoa by the fireplace; cinnamon is definitely reminiscent of a wintry Christmas. I hope that you, Mark and your families had a wonderful Christmas, all the best for the start of the new year! x

    • Thanks so much Pam, ohhh how I wish I could be wearing a big cheesy Christmas jumper right now! It’s hot here. I am sitting in our living room near the air conditioner with a big glass of ice water. I’ll move on to the cider next! Hope that you guys had a beautiful Christmas, all the best for new year next week! xxx

  12. Yum!! These cookies look insanely delicious!! They’d make lovely gifts too I’m sure – who doesn’t love caramel and chocolate!?

    Wishing you a lovely Christmas and relaxing break,

    Chloe & Sarah

    • Thanks Chloe and Sarah, yep I completely agree… almost everyone loves caramel and chocolate! Hope that you guys had a wonderful Christmas and all the best for new year next week! xx

  13. Oh MY GOSH! Years ago, I had a Chilean boyfriend and I went to Chile and Peru twice. Once of my favorite things to do was try out all the different variations of alfajores and try to discover the best one. It’s been FOREVER since I’ve had an alfajor and your post is bringing back fond memories. Fun post, my dear! Thanks for staying up till the wee hours in the morning to bring this to us :)

    • I’ve only just started to realize how many variations on the alfajor there are! I have some Argentinean friends and they make their alfajores with coconut on the outside, and I’ve been reading about the Spanish variation in a ‘log’ shape made with almond meal. Haha, glad that the post brought back some fond memories for you! I was very tired the next day but I enjoyed the process nonetheless! Happy new year for next week Julia! xx

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  15. The other day I was thinking how I had thought I’d make a lot of alfajores recipes for the blog when I first started it, and how I only managed to post 1 so far… These look fantastic Laura! Perfect alfajores! Have an amazing Christmas day and week girl!

    • I just had a look at your alfajores recipe Paula… yum! Love the nuts around the outside. My friend Miriam’s mother (their family are from Argentina) makes alfajores with coconut rolled around the outside but I am only just starting to realize how many variations there are! Thanks for the kind words, they mean a lot. I hope that you have a wonderful start to the new year Paula! Thanks for being a wonderful blogging (and real life) friend! xx

      • The original is with coconut around it, and it’s everywhere in this country! These is the most known alfajor, with cornstarch, and comes from a very old cookbook. You should try them! Have a great beginning of 2014 Laura!

    • Thank you Julia, I appreciate the kind words! And great tip on cooking the condensed milk, much safer than trying to avoid a can explosion on the stove! I will check out your post. Hope that you had a wonderful Christmas, happy new year for next week! xx

  16. These look amazing! One of my favourite cookies in the world. Love what you did to them. I am totally with you on the traditional methods of making dough and I had quite a few episodes of late night baking this month. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays Laura!

    • They’re so delicious, aren’t they Sonali? I love them. Haha, it’s so cool that pretty much all food bloggers relate to the late night baking thing. We can console ourselves together when we’re exhausted! Merry Christmas to you and the family Sonali. I hope that you have had a wonderful festive season so far xx

  17. So very much admire your integrity, Laura. Not only did you keep your commitment, you created simply irresistible looking and sounding shortbread wonders! Bravo!…And Happy Christmas =)

  18. Skiping bedtime was worth it this time, these alfajores look like the tastiest thing ever! I love the Dulce de Leche filling, and the chocolate coating looks beyond delicious! These sound like the msot perfect cookies ever!
    Merry Christmas to you and your family! x

    • Thanks so much Consuelo! Haha, yep the late night was worth it in the end! Hope that you and your family had a wonderful Christmas too, sending you lots of good wishes for the start of the new year! x

  19. Anything with shortbread gets my attention – I love the stuff. These look wonderful. Particularly since I can’t resist cinnamon! I hope you’re having a wonderful holiday!

    • I completely get what you’re saying! Haha… I took them to a friends gathering so they were shared (otherwise I would’ve probably eaten them all!). Hope that you had a wonderful Christmas, all the best for the start of the new year! x

  20. Merry Christmas Laura!!! I regret not able to stop by in the last few months..I am so excited to see what have you cooked for Christmas! And these cookies are just gorgeous. you know what, I really prefer the way you dip them into the chocolate instead of brushing them on. Well, I’m just like that :) …..danny

    • Thanks Danny!! I’ve missed chatting about food with you, how’s everything going? Loved your most recent post. Definitely understand how life gets in the way at times. Hope that you had a great Christmas, here’s to a wonderful start to 2014! :)

      • Happy New Year Laura! I’ve missed chatting with you about food too. After settling down in the first 2 months, I’ve spent the last month to fully focus on my work. Everything’s good so far. I start to cook again whenever I got time. Have a blessed year ahead. :)

  21. A cookie week is a great idea – and what a wonderful recipe! And I love that red elephant, too. ;-) Your photos are so large and gorgeous… how do you format them to cover the whole screen? They show off the lovely details of these cookies. Best wishes, Laura! – Shanna

    • Hey Shanna, thanks so much for the lovely comment. The elephant was something I picked up from a Christmas market last year, it’s made from handmade organic felt. I love them! Re the photographs, I’ve customised my blog with the help of a friend who is a computer programmer. It allows me to format my photos into a larger size. You’ll need to get some help to decrease your border widths and then you can edit your photos as you add them into the template. Argh, did that make any sense? Let me know if you need some extra instructions and I’ll see what I can do. Best wishes for a great start to the new year! x

  22. I wish Buenos Aires offers vegan alfajores…so I have decided to make my own, but with something else ;) The exteriors of your alfajores look amazing… Hope you had a wonderful holidays! Wishing you a Happy New Year, Laura!

  23. I wish Buenos Aires offers vegan alfajores…so I have decided to make my own, but with something else ;) The exteriors of your alfajores look amazing… Hope you had a wonderful holidays! Wishing you a Happy New Year, Laura! ;)

    • Hi Rika! Thanks for the lovely message. Yes, it’s a pain how there aren’t many vegan options in mainstream stores. I’d definitely give them a go with coconut caramel, I reckon they’d be just as delicious! Happy new year to you too beautiful xx

  24. Oh my Gosh!!! These look crazy good! Cinnamon & Dulche De Leche together is just dreamy! So much that I can’t help but think if I could grab them all off screen :)

    • Thanks Riddhi, they were so delicious. Wish that we had a ‘taste test’ function over the internet, I always want to eat everything that I see on my blogging friend’s sites! Yours included! xx

      • Totally agree Laura!! ‘Taste test’ over the internet will have to be the greatest invention EVER! Hope that happens sooon! ;) xx

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