There are many delicious incarnations of the alfajor; this version coated with crisp meringue is among the best. Get your hands on the best dulce de leche possible - a thick and rich version, such as Havanna, is ideal. Start this recipe 12 hours ahead to allow the meringue to set.
- 220 gm butter, softened
- 120 gm caster sugar
- 1½ tbsp honey
- 1 egg
- Scraped seeds of 1 vanilla bean
- 415 gm plain flour
- 100 gm cornflour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 300 gm dulce de leche (see note)
- 240 gm caster sugar
- 2 egg whites
- 1Beat butter and sugar in an electric mixer until pale and fluffy (2-3 minutes). Scrape down the sides, then add honey, egg, vanilla seeds and ½ tsp salt and beat to combine. Add flour, cornflour, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda and stir to combine. Turn out onto a work surface and gently bring dough together. Wrap in plastic wrap, pat into a disc and refrigerate until chilled and firm (1 hour).
- 2Preheat oven to 180C and line 2 oven trays with baking paper. Roll dough out on a lightly floured surface to a thickness of 3mm, cut out 7cm-diameter rounds, transfer to prepared trays and dock with a fork. Bake, swapping trays halfway, until golden and cooked through (7-8 minutes). Cool briefly on trays, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
- 3Spread half the biscuits with dulce de leche, sandwich with remaining biscuits and set aside.
- 4For meringue icing, stir sugar and 80ml water in a small saucepan over high heat until sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil, reduce heat to medium and simmer without stirring, brushing crystals from sides of pan with a wet pastry brush, until slightly reduced and syrupy (2-3 minutes). Meanwhile, whisk eggwhites in an electric mixer until soft peaks form, then increase speed and add syrup in a thin steady stream until incorporated. Continue whisking until meringue is cool and thick (8-10 minutes). Spread the sides and tops of the biscuits with a thin coating of meringue, wiping off any excess. Set aside on a wire rack until icing sets (12 hours or overnight) before serving. Alfajores will keep in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
Dulce de leche is available from select grocers and delicatessens; the Havanna brand is available from The Essential Ingredient.