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Little Peruvian alfajores

Alfajores are served in various forms throughout Latin America. What they have in common is their delicious, melt-in-the-mouth texture. In Peru, they're sandwiched with a milk caramel called manjar blanco, which is similar to dulce de leche but paler in colour. We've made our own here, but shop-bought dulce de leche works just as well. It's worth rendering your own lard for this recipe - it makes so much difference to the flavour, but if you're serving vegetarians, by all means swap the lard for butter.

You'll need

525 gm (3½ cups) plain flour 2 tbsp icing sugar, sieved, plus extra for dusting 250 gm lard (see note) Desiccated coconut, to serve   Manjar blanco 110 gm (1/2 cup) caster sugar 10 gm butter, diced Scraped seeds of 1 vanilla bean 1/8 tsp bicarbonate of soda 500 ml (2 cups) milk 1 tbsp brown sugar 1 tsp liquid glucose


  • 01
  • For manjar blanco, heat caster sugar, butter, vanilla seeds, bicarbonate of soda and 125ml milk in a saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Bring to the boil and cook, stirring continuously, until mixture turns caramel (5-7 minutes). Add another 125ml milk and brown sugar, and stir until mixture thickens (4-5 minutes). Add glucose and remaining milk, reduce heat to low and stir until thick (25-30 minutes). Remove from heat, stir for 5 minutes until slightly cooled, then transfer to a container, cover and refrigerate until chilled and thick. Manjar blanco will keep refrigerated for a month.
  • 02
  • Preheat oven to 180C. Combine flour, icing sugar and ½ tsp salt in a bowl, add lard and cut in with a knife or pastry scraper until coarse crumbs form. Add 60ml lukewarm water and mix to combine (if mixture is still too dry, add a splash of extra water). Turn out onto a work surface and bring dough together. Form into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate to rest for 30 minutes.
  • 03
  • Roll pastry on a lightly floured work surface to 5mm thick, cut out 5cm rounds with a pastry cutter (we used a fluted cutter), place on a baking tray lined with baking paper and bake until set but not coloured (10-12 minutes). Cool on tray.
  • 04
  • To serve, spread or pipe manjar blanco on half the biscuits, scatter coconut around the edges, then sandwich with remaining biscuits and dust with icing sugar.

At A Glance

  • Serves 15 people
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At A Glance

  • Serves 15 people

Additional Notes

To render lard, cook chopped pork back-fat in a saucepan over low heat with 5mm water (to prevent burning) until the fat renders, then strain and refrigerate until solid. It can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a month.

Featured in

Jul 2016

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