Caramel sweet treats on a relaxing and surprise-filled Mother’s Day

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This was a really fun Mother’s Day weekend! Relaxing and yet surprising! We hope you all had a nice Mother’s Day! As for the surprise, on Saturday, my husband, I, and the two dogs Pipi and Nutter drove up to “the Valley” at my husband’s parent’s house. His mom did not know at all that we would be there and she was so surprised and happy that we came up to spend Mother’s Day weekend with her. You should have seen the look on her face when we got in the door! A happy shock! It’s always a great time visiting them. Pipi and now also Nutter love visiting too!

We took her out for dinner at a cafe not far away from their house and had a great time. The only thing that could make it better is if the dogs could come along to the restaurant too, LOL. After dinner and walking with the dogs, I baked some alfajores, a sweet treat of caramel sandwiched in between two British biscuit-like cookies. I baked some at their house and then finished baking more at my parent’s house on Sunday evening. Lots of alfajores! This time it was alfajores–two ways:  whole wheat and a gluten-free variation.

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Alfajores are popular in South America though there are many varieties of these sweet treats with this name throughout the world. I asked my mom if she knew what an alfajor was, and she said that in the Philippines it is a tapioca dessert. There are many varieties of alfajores spread far and wide, though because my mom loves caramel, I think she likes this version of alfajores the best!

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For this type of alfajor, an  biscuit/shortbread-ike dough is rolled out to about ~1/4 inch and cut into the size and shape of your choice. I used a round fluted 1 and 7/8 inch diameter cutter. I’ve seen people do star-shaped alfajores for Christmas, so making it festive is a fun option too. You could bake the cookies ahead of time before filling them with the cajeta or dulce-de-leche.I baked them in the evening and finished assembling in the morning while getting Mother’s Day breakfast ready.

Sorry I forgot to take pictures of what we made for the Mother’s Day breakfast, but my husband made the pancakes, my father-in-law made breakfast sausage, and I made an asparagus, mushroom, and prosciutto frittata. We also popped the bacon in the oven to cook (a nice method for making lots of bacon when you are busy making other things). My mother-in-law, grandma-in-law, and everybody loved the meal. Good times. 🙂

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How to assemble the sandwich cookies:  after baking and cooling the cookies, you fill it with the dulce de leche. However, I decided to use up some cajeta that I made last weekend for the chocoflan. It is very similar to dulce de leche and works well in these cookies. You could also spread some cajeta on the sides of the sandwich and roll it in nuts, chocolate, sprinkles, and the traditional finely shredded coconut. My mom really enjoys cashew nuts, so I made some of the cookies rolled in finely chopped cashews.

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The whole-wheat version with the caramel. So delectable! 😀

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Whole-wheat Alfajores

adapted from CHOW

12-20 sandwich cookies, depending on size and shape

  • 1 cup cornstarch
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill brand), plus more as needed for rolling
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine salt
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick), room temperature
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 tablespoon pisco or brandy
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1 cup dulce-de-leche or cajeta
  • 1/2 cup toppings/garnish:  flaked coconut, finely chopped nuts, finely chopped chocolate, etc.
  • Powdered sugar, for dusting (optional)
  1. Combine dry ingredients:  In a bowl, whisk or sift together the cornstarch, whole-wheat pastry flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  2. Combine wet ingredients:  In another bowl, using a mixer, cream the butter and evaporated cane juice together for about 3 minutes, until fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and  set the mixer on medium. Mix in the egg yolks, pisco, vanilla, and lemon zest for another minute or two until incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl again.
  3. Slowly mix in the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients until no visible flour pockets remain, just about 30 seconds. Form the dough into a disc and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate 1 hour or overnight.
  4. After the dough has chilled, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  While waiting for oven to heat, roll out dough to about 1/4 inch thickness and cut into preferred shapes. Place on a baking sheet at least 1/2 inch apart and bake for 12-14 minutes, until the top is pale golden and the bottom and sides are lightly browned. If you want crisper cookies, bake a minute or so longer until top is getting lightly brown or desired color. Let cool on a wire rack.
  5. To assemble the cookie sandwiches, place ~2 teaspoons (depending on size of cookies) cajeta/dulce de leche on half of the cookies. You can also use a pastry bag or a gallon-sized plastic bag with a corner cut off to pipe the dulce de leche. Put another cookie on top and serve as is or roll in the suggested garnishes above. Sift powdered sugar on top before serving, if desired.

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This is the gluten-free version. These ones were came out delicate with melt-in-your-mouth goodness. My mom likes tender cookies like these so it turned out well, even if it was a bit different than the traditional softer type alfajor. She said that it reminded her of Filipino polvoron. My mother-in-law enjoyed the cookies as well. 🙂Alfajores9

Gluten-free Alfajores

adapted from The Betty Rocker

~25 small sandwich cookies (1.5-2 inch diameter)

  • 1/2 cup of cornstarch
  • 3/4 cup of Bob’s Red Mill brand all purpose gluten-free baking flour, plus more as needed
  • 1 tablespoon ground flax
  • 1/4 teaspoon of gluten-free baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 pound of butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup evaporated cane juice (also called evaporated cane sugar)
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1/2 -1 tablespoon pisco or brandy (I used rum)
  • 1/4 teaspoon of grated lemon zest
  • 1 cup of dulce-de-lece or cajeta
  • 1/2 cup toppings/garnish:  flaked coconut, finely chopped nuts, finely chopped chocolate, etc.
  • Powdered sugar for dusting (optional)
  1. Combine dry ingredients:  In a bowl, whisk or sift together the cornstarch, gluten-free AP flour, ground flax, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  2. Combine wet ingredients:  In another bowl, using a mixer, cream the butter and evaporated cane juice together for about 3 minutes, until fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and  set the mixer on medium. Mix in the egg yolk, vanilla, pisco, and lemon zest for another minute or two until incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl again.
  3. Slowly mix in the dry ingredients until no visible flour pockets remain, just about 30 seconds. Form the dough into a disc and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate 1 hour or overnight.
  4. After the dough has chilled, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  While waiting for oven to heat, roll out dough to about 1/4 inch thickness and cut into preferred shapes. Place on a baking sheet at least 1/2 inch apart and bake for 12-14 minutes, until the top is pale golden and the bottom and sides are lightly browned. If you want crisper cookies, bake a minute or so longer until top is getting lightly brown or desired color. Let cool on a wire rack.
  5. To assemble the cookie sandwiches, place ~2 teaspoons (depending on size of cookies) cajeta/dulce de leche on half of the cookies. You can also use a pastry bag or a gallon-sized plastic bag with a corner cut off to pipe the dulce de leche. Put another cookie on top and serve as is or roll in the suggested garnishes above. Sift some powdered sugar on top of the cookies, if desired.

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My mom loves Victorian-style decor so it was the perfect serving plate for these sweet caramel treats. It was a really great weekend that my mother-in-law and my mom enjoyed. But remember to show your mother love and appreciation not only on Mother’s Day, but everyday! She deserves it! 😀

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29 thoughts on “Caramel sweet treats on a relaxing and surprise-filled Mother’s Day

  1. These look delicious!! I’ll take a baker’s dozen please 🙂
    Come look at my blog in a bit – I’m leaving you something there my friend 🙂 XOXO – Bacon

  2. How gorgeous! I love dulce de leche and Alfajores. I like your recipe! I have to thank the Arabs for having left the Alfajores recipe in Spain. A many years ago! Spain took the recipe for South America. I’Il make this recipe and eat with a glass of milk hahaha.

  3. Pingback: Caramel biscuits – Biscotti al caramello – Alfajores con dulce de leche | Ely's Kitchen

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