I've seen alfajores on many blogs, but I can't say that I've ever actually eaten one. But dulce de leche in the middle of a crunchy cookie? Yes, please.
So I created my own version with a little peanut butter in the mix. These are not truly authentic alfajores, because from what I gathered from looking at different recipes, traditional alfajores have cornstarch in them. Mine are kind of shortbreadish. My husband could not stop eating them. He loves all things peanut butter and all things Latin American, so it was a good day for him. They're definitely not overly sweet, but that was actually a nice change for me.
Here are some notes:
-Yes, you can make your own dulce de leche by cooking sweetened condensed milk in the oven as per the instructions in this post, but I might not do that here. I did this to begin with, then I mixed in peanut butter for the filling. The result was a super stiff, unspreadable mixture. Wouldn't work for the middle of the cookies. So you know what I did? I called my husband and asked him to run by the store for some bottled dulce de leche, and I rolled the other mixture into truffles and dipped them in cinnamon sugar.
-If you find that the filling is kind of oozy, just place them in the fridge until the filling sets, then take them out and store them at room temperature.
-It just takes a thin layer of filling to spread over the cookies. Don't overdo it.
-Also, traditionally the edges are rolled in coconut, but I left mine plain.
Peanut Butter Alfajores
3/4 cup butter, softened to room temperature
1/2 cup plus 3 heaping tablespoons creamy peanut butter, divided
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup bottled dulce de leche
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Beat butter and 1/2 cup peanut butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy; gradually add both sugars, beating well. Beat in egg and vanilla. Combine flour and salt; gradually add to butter mixture, beating at low speed until blended.
Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut with small cookie cutters in desired shapes and place 1 inch apart on ungreased baking sheets.
Bake for 35-40 minutes or until edges begin to turn golden brown. Cool 2 minutes on baking sheets. Remove to wire racks to cool completely.
Meanwhile, stir the dulce de leche and remaining 3 heaping tablespoons peanut butter together until smooth. Spread a thin layer onto the flat side of half the cooled cookies, then place the remaining cookies on top, flat side in to make a sandwich.