alfajoresWhen my friend Amanda said, “these tastes just like Good Shepherd,” I knew I did it right.

Good Shepherd is a convent in northern Philippines, and it is well-known across the country for the delicious sweets and pastries they sell. I think some people even forget that it’s actually a convent, and not just a brand of sweet treats. I love their ube jam and alfajor cookies, two of the most popular products.

Alfajor coookies, or alfajores, are buttery cookie sandwiches filled with dulce de leche and covered in powdered sugar. The cookies are like shortbread, sturdy and crumbly at the same time, with the slightest hint of citrus. It’s filled with thick and sticky caramel or dulce de leche.

I wanted to recreate those alfajores – those cookies that I would beg my parents to buy for me any time they are in Baguio city, where the Good Shepherd convent is located. I used to pack plastic containers of those cookies to bring back to Boston with me, or even pack them in my carry-on luggage. They were a nice little reminder of home, a sweet bite from the Philippines.

alfajor cookiesYears later, I discovered to my joy that alfajores are actually well-loved in other countries, too.  I saw them when I first visited the Taza chocolate factory in Somerville (check out my vintage post). The alfajores were covered in dark chocolate, and were called maitelates. I saw alfajores in various magazines and blogs, saying these cookies are common in Argentina, Uruguay, Colombia, Mexico, and other Latin American countries. I saw versions dipped in coconut, drizzled with chocolate, or rolled in nuts. All look delicious, but I wanted to make the alfajores dusted in confectioner’s sugar, just like the ones I used to enjoy in the Philippines.

alfajores con dulce de lecheI ended up making these cookies at 11 pm on a Friday night, knowing that I can bring them with me to a big lunch the following day with some of my Filipino friends. The cookies were easy to make; I didn’t use a mixer, and the cookies only needed to be chilled for about 20 minutes. I used 2-inch cookie cutters, baked them in batches, then spooned thick dulce de leche to make sandwiches (look for dulce de leche in your specialty or gourmet stores, or in the Mexican aisles of your grocery stores. You can also easily purchase cans or jars on Amazon.) I kept the cookie sandwiches refrigerated then sprinkled powdered sugar on top the next day, but you can also assemble them completely before storing in an air-tight container.

My friends really liked the alfajores, with a few of them sneaking in a cookie before our lunch orders arrived (cookies as appetizers are a good idea). The cookies were gone quickly, with friends licking powdered sugar from their fingers while saying thank you’s with big grins.

No more need to stuff alfajores in our maletas (luggages) next time we come back from the Philippines. I have a feeling the nuns from the convent won’t mind.

alfajores cookies

Yield: 2 dozen sandwich cookies



2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened to room temperature
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar, plus more for sprinkling on top
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon lemon zest
1 1/2 cups dulce de leche


  1. In a big mixing bowl, combine all ingredients (except dulce de leche) and mix together until the dough can form into a ball. You can also use a food processor or a stand mixer.
  2. Shape the dough into a disc, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 20 minutes.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  4. Sprinkle some flour onto your work surface and roll the dough to about 1/4-inch thick. Using a 2-inch round cookie cutter, cut out the cookies and transfer to cookie sheets lined with parchment paper.  Combine dough scraps together, gently press into a ball, and roll out again so you can cut out more rounds. I ended up with around 48 cookie rounds (enough to make 24 cookie sandwiches).
  5.  Bake cookies for about 12-14 minutes, or until edges are lightly golden. Let cookies cool for about 15 minutes.
  6. Assemble cookie sandwiches by spreading about 2 teaspoons of dulce de leche on the flat side of one cookie, then topping with another cookie flat side down.
  7. Generous sprinkle powdered sugar before serving. Cookies should be kept in the refrigerator in an air-tight container if not consumed immediately.

alfajor cookies dulce de leche

Have you ever had alfajores?


46 Responses to “Alfajores”

  1. #
    Michelle posted March 27, 2014 at 9:04 am

    Yes, please!

  2. #
    Kayle (The Cooking Actress) posted March 27, 2014 at 9:20 am

    ooooooh these alfajores look melt in your mouth deliciuuuuus!

  3. #
    Kathryn posted March 27, 2014 at 11:48 am

    I’m pretty sure you can’t beat a couple of cookies sandwiched together with dulce de leche! These look wonderful.

    • #
      Bianca Garcia posted March 27, 2014 at 2:44 pm

      Hi Kathryn! Yes, it’s hard to go wrong :)

  4. #
    Michelle Lahey posted March 27, 2014 at 12:39 pm

    These sound delicious! I’ve never had alfajores before…but now I think I need to!

  5. #
    Mariana @The Candid Kitchen posted March 27, 2014 at 1:58 pm

    I have been dying to try these. I got them once as a present from an Argentinian friend and fell head over heels in love!

    • #
      Bianca Garcia posted March 27, 2014 at 8:31 pm

      Yes, once you’ve had them it’s hard not to!

  6. #
    Dixya @ Food, Pleasure, and Health posted March 27, 2014 at 2:18 pm

    i have never had ajfajores before but i know i will love them..PS i saw you on Youtube with McCormick – I was so excited yayyy go girl :)

    • #
      Bianca Garcia posted March 27, 2014 at 2:44 pm

      Awww thanks girl! That was a fun video to shoot :)

  7. #
    Megan posted March 27, 2014 at 2:35 pm

    Yum! They look amazing! So great that you could re-create a treat from home.

  8. #
    Shashi @ RunninSrilankan posted March 27, 2014 at 2:36 pm

    Cookies as appetizers are a BRILLIANT idea – specially these ones! This is my first rendezvous with alfajores, but that doesn’t keep me from drooling! Shortbread cookies sandwiched with dulce de leche – so yum!

  9. #
    Katrina @ WVS posted March 27, 2014 at 2:40 pm

    Mmmm these sound fabulous!!

  10. #
    Shannon posted March 27, 2014 at 2:50 pm

    oooh yum! love anything with dulce de leche, and these little buttery shortbread sandwiches are pretty much at the top of my list :)

  11. #
    yummychunklet posted March 27, 2014 at 3:37 pm

    What sweet looking cookies!

  12. #
    Meghan posted March 27, 2014 at 8:03 pm

    These look delicious, and as I have said before, your food memories of home always make me smile. You could write an amazing book!

  13. #
    Sacha posted March 27, 2014 at 8:10 pm

    Alfajores are pretty much the perfect cookie—buttery shortbread plus sweet dulce de leche is a combination that’s hard not to like! The thick dusting of confectioners’ sugar on yours is beautiful.

  14. #
    Natalie @ Tastes Lovely posted March 27, 2014 at 9:30 pm

    This looks delicious! I could eat these by the handful. Love dulce de leche : )

  15. #
    Stacy | Wicked Good Kitchen posted March 28, 2014 at 12:54 am

    Gorgeous, Bianca! I am just drooling! Seriously, I need to make these asap. And, I love the idea of cookies as appetizers. Genius! I have a big ol’ jar of dulce de leche on hand just for such an occasion, like making these beauties. Thank you for sharing. Have a lovely weekend!

  16. #
    Alyssa @ My Sequined Life posted March 28, 2014 at 1:12 am

    Oh my goodness, THESE!! I’ve never eaten one of these before, but from the looks of your post, I have no idea why not! I can only imagine how great they are, biting into the dulce de leche and tasting the powdered sugar. Pinning these for sure. :)

  17. #
    Lauren at Keep It Sweet posted March 28, 2014 at 2:57 pm

    I’ve actually never had an alfajore but based on those pictures and your post I am pretty confident that I’d love them.

  18. #
    Ashley @ Wishes & Dishes posted March 28, 2014 at 3:10 pm

    OH wow…drooling!!! These look so good!!!

  19. #
    dina posted March 28, 2014 at 6:12 pm

    i love these. they look great!

  20. #
    Ashley | Spoonful of Flavor posted March 29, 2014 at 1:45 pm

    I’ve never made alfajores but theses look pretty incredible! If I made them, I would probably eat the entire batch :)

  21. #
    Laura @ Laura's Culinary Adventures posted March 29, 2014 at 2:08 pm

    What beautiful and elegant cookies! I really like foods that remind me of significant places and good memories.

  22. #
    Rachel Cooks posted March 29, 2014 at 2:46 pm

    Wish I had a (BIG) stack of these right now!!!

  23. #
    grace posted March 30, 2014 at 1:50 pm

    as sandwich cookies go, none are better than these! gorgeous work, bianca!

  24. #
    Kelly @ hidden fruits and veggies posted March 31, 2014 at 1:31 pm

    Woah, these sound beyond incredible!

  25. #
    Amy @ Elephant Eats posted March 31, 2014 at 3:53 pm

    Oh my gosh, i need these. In fact, I’d take just a bowl of the filling :) They look amazing, Bianca!

  26. #
    vicky and Ruth @ May I have that recipe? posted April 1, 2014 at 12:29 pm

    Love alfajores! thanks for the recipe, I want to try it soon.

  27. #
    Simply Life posted April 2, 2014 at 11:00 am

    wow! these cookies look like they are straight from a bakery!!!

  28. #
    Jessica @ Jessiker Bakes posted April 2, 2014 at 3:14 pm

    Oh these alfajores look pretty delicious! You definitely had me at dulce de leche :)

  29. #
    Melanie @ Bon Appet'eat posted April 2, 2014 at 9:51 pm

    Wow Bianca, did you read my mind? I have been looking for a good recipe! I only tried this once… and I so want to eat more :). Thank you! I might try it this weekend.

    • #
      Bianca Garcia posted April 2, 2014 at 10:12 pm

      Hehe you’re welcome! If you make these, you won’t regret it ;)

  30. #
    Tina @ Tina's Chic Corner posted April 4, 2014 at 10:28 am

    I’ve never heard of these cookies before but they sound and look delicious! I love learning about new foods. :)

  31. #
    Jenny @ BAKE posted April 6, 2014 at 10:57 am

    These look so delicious! I love replicating childhood favourites I love the sense of nostalgia!

  32. #
    Beauty Follower posted April 9, 2014 at 11:15 am

    The look delicious,
    perfect with coffee!

  33. #
    Rebecca @ Dorm Room Baker posted April 12, 2014 at 11:55 pm

    These look amazing! I had some alfajores when I was in Puerto Rico a few months ago and considered trying to recreate them, but never got around to it. I’ll definitely have to try out your recipe (either that or take a quick flight over to the Philippines haha).

  34. #
    Samantha Menzies posted April 16, 2014 at 11:14 am

    What kind of dulce de leche do you use?

  35. #
    Andi @ The Weary Chef posted April 19, 2014 at 4:09 pm

    These are so pretty, and I can almost taste how delicious they are from looking at the photos! I have wondered what to do with dulce de leche, and now I know. Thank you!

  36. #
    Anne Reyes posted May 16, 2015 at 3:08 am

    Alfajor from good sheppherd’s baguio is the best! Love it!

  37. #
    Alfajores caseros posted November 4, 2015 at 2:39 pm

    Love it!! So Pretty!! :)

  38. #
    fayeabell posted January 22, 2017 at 10:20 pm

    Thank you for sharing this recipe. It looks really delish but basing from your recipe it does not seem hard to make. I will try to do this today in time for our small group meeting at church tomorrow. My group mates have been requesting I make this for them and viola’i found your recipe on line :) An added perk is I read you are from the Philippines :) Thanks again for sharing :)

  39. #
    Alg posted October 11, 2017 at 12:09 am

    Ate Biancs!!!!

  40. #
    Janice posted March 10, 2018 at 11:44 am

    Been craving for these after our visit to the Philippines in December. After searching for so many recipes, so glad I found your site! I made these just last week and oh boy they are so good!!! They are really close to the Good Shepherd alfajor in Baguio, better I think… I love the addition of the lemon zest. Thank you for sharing your recipe!!!

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