Not quite a cake, not quite a biscuit, and a little bit more than a cookie sandwich, the Alfajor (Alpha-Hor) is a traditional argentine sweet and the perfect vehicle for dulce de leche (Argentine caramel).
The alfajor originally appeared in 16th century Spain, as a chocolate coated hybrid of cake-cookie. After traveling the immigrant train from Spain, to the New World, through Peru and across the border to Argentina, the Alfajor took on its most popular iteration: a two-cookie sandwich with a dulce de leche filling, covered in something sweet.
Like most food phenomenon, the Alfajor has been reinvented time and time again, playing telephone across the country and changing identities all the way. In Argentina alone, five provinces have stood out with their own unique versions on this tea-time classic.
Alfajores Cordobeses: In Cordoba, the alfajor is a cake-like cookie sandwich filled with sweet fruit jams and marmalades, ranging from pear to orange to fruits of the forest. This cookie sandwich is then covered in a white sugar glaze that forms a light crispy crust around the whole concoction, and crumbles into dust with every bite.
Alfajores Tucumanos: In Tucuman, the alfajor is called a Clarita, and is looks like a giant toasted marshmallow stuck between two thin wafer crackers. In fact, the marshmallow-like filling is a nougat candy filling and the cookies are crispy sugary wafers.
Alfajores Santafesinos: In Santa Fe Province, the alfajor doesn’t follow the standard cookie sandwich rules. This alfajor is a tower of circular crispy crackers stacked one atop the other, each layer covered in dulce de leche. This stack of 4 or more crackers is then bathed in white sugar glaze.
Alfajores Marplatenses: From Mar del Plata and the Buenos Aires coast, comes an alfajor that has quickly set the standard for commercialized alfajores in Argentina. It consists of two thick cake-like cookies, sandwiched together by a thick layer of dulce de leche, and covered entirely in chocolate. These are the alfajores that are packaged and sold in every convenience store across the country.
Alfajores Mendocinos: The traditional alfajor of the Mendoza region is the Alfajor de Maizena (Corn Starch Alfajor). It consists of two sugar cookies so light they crumble at the touch, sandwiched together with dulce de leche and rolled in toasted coconut flakes.