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South American Alfajores Shortbread

A Christmas tradition in many Latin American countries, meltingly good shortbread filled with irresistable caramel Dulce de Leche

December 20, 2017

South American Alfajores Shortbread

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ingredients for twelve sandwich biscuits

dulce de leche
1 x 395gm tin sweetened condensed milk

shortbread biscuits
300gm plain flour
50gm icing sugar
good pinch salt
200gm cold unsalted butter
2 x egg yolks
½ tsp vanilla extract
180gm dulce de leche (see notes)


  1. At least 8 hours before needing, make dulce de leche. Place unopened tin of condensed milk in saucepan and immerse in hot water ensuring top of tin is covered with at least 2cm depth of water. Place well fitting lid on saucepan and simmer for 3½ hours. Check on depth of water during cooking, tins must always be submerged. Cool in water if time allows or remove from pan and allow to completely cool before opening.
  2. Make shortbread biscuits. Place flour, icing sugar, salt and unsalted butter in bowl of food processor. Process until fine crumbs form. Add vanilla extract and egg yolks and pulse to combine.
  3. Tip crumbly mix onto workbench and bring together using clean hands, kneading briefly to form smooth dough.
  4. Cut dough in half and roll out each piece to ¾cm thickness on a lightly floured workbench.
  5. Using 7cm plain or fluted round cutter, punch out 12 biscuits from each piece. Place total of 24 biscuits on non-stick paper lined baking tray. (Re-roll scraps once to make final biscuits if necessary.)
  6. Place biscuit dough on trays in fridge for 30 minutes to chill.
  7. Pre-heat oven to 180ºC.
  8. Bake biscuits for 12 to 15 minutes, until lightly tinged golden brown.
  9. Cool biscuits on wire rack.
  10. Carefully spread one side of 12 biscuits with dulce de leche, the biscuits are delicate. Place two biscuits together and twist slightly to distribute filling.
  11. Dust with icing sugar and serve.

cooks notes:

  • Dulce de leche pronounced dool-say-de-leh-chay, is a wonderful and luscious smooth caramel made by slowly heating sweetened milk, until it caramelizes.
  • Biscuits keep for up to 1 week in a cool place stored in an air tight container, longer if refrigerated.
  • Instead of making yourself as per the recipe, dulce de leche can be purchased in jars at specialist food stores. Supermarkets carry tinned Nestle caramel, which is okay, but not quite as rich and dark as when made by boiling the tims of milk.
  • Dulce de leche is popular in Spain as well as South America.
  • Try dulce de leche with churros (pipe in centre once cooked or serve a s a ‘dip’).
  • Spoon dulce de leche into pastry cases and top with melted chocolate
  • Swirl dulce de leche through a raw vanilla cheesecake.
  • Serve dulce de leche with pancakes.
  • Heat dulce de leche and drizzle over vanilla or chocolate ice cream.
  • Fill biscuits with nutella in place of dulce de leche, or mix both together.
  • These smooth shortbread biscuits are popular in Chile during the Christmas season as well as being made in other South American countries and Spain.

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Meet the team

Tracey Cotterell

Tracey Cotterell
Tracey Cotterell


Tracey has been in the food industry since completing her Diploma in Hotel, Catering and Institutional Management in 1982 in the UK. She worked for an outside catering company in London, then joined her parents in rural West Sussex running

View Tracey’s full profile.

Tracey Cotterell

Tracey Cotterell


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