(Caramel Sandwich Cookies)


April 5: National Caramel Day

We often got invited to party with our Peruvian friend, Tina P., at her house during the holidays when we lived in Oklahoma. Our energetic hostess would proudly share some samples of Inca Kola and roasted corn nuts that she or her family members had brought back after visiting their country. Her sister, Odilia, would also prepare other Peruvian snacks at home, such as alfajores (caramel sandwich cookies). She would actually boil a can of condensed milk for hours to make the caramel, although manufacturers have warned against this cooking method as the can might explode. Nowadays, dulce de leche is readily available in a can or jar, and we use this safer, more convenient caramel as a filling between buttery yet brittle biscuits (cookies). Prepare a popular Peruvian and South American sweet treat—make alfajores for National Caramel Day.


(Adapted from


  • 1 ¾ cups cornstarch
  • 1 cup flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, unsalted
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2+ tablespoons Brandy (traditionally Pisco)
  • 1 cup caramel/dulce de leche
  • ½ cup coconut flakes, toasted


In a bowl, combine the cornstarch, flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside. In another bowl, cream the butter and sugar. Stir in the vanilla. Gradually add the dry ingredients and knead to form a cookie dough. Add Brandy to make the dough hold together and not crumble (add more Brandy, if necessary). Form into a ball.


Flatten the ball between two sheets of waxed paper. Refrigerate for half an hour to firm up the dough. Roll out to to ¼-inch thick. Cut circles with a round cookie-cutter (2-inches for regular-sized alfajores or 1- 1 ½-inches for mini alfajores).


Place the cut circles on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F for 15-20 minutes or pale brown (do not over bake). Remove the cookies from the oven and let them sit out for about five minutes. Carefully transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely. Gently spread caramel/dulce de leche on the flat side of one cookie.


Lightly press another cookie on top of the caramel/dulce de leche to sandwich them. Roll the sides of the cookies in coconut to stick to the filling. Refrigerate to set.



  • Manjar blanco is the traditional filling for alfajores. However, dulce de leche is an acceptable substitute.
  • Powdered sugar is typically sprinkled on surface of the alfajores before serving. But we opted not to do so to focus on the already-sweet flavor of the dulce de leche.
  • Muchas gracias to Tina P. for the woven Peruvian blanket that we used for the final photo backdrop above.