Lucuma is an unusual tropical fruit that is quite beloved in Peru and Chile. It has an interesting perfume-like flavor - maybe something similar to apricot but more tropical like mango - and a chalky texture. Lucuma ice cream is one of the most popular ways to sample this unique fruit.
Alfajor cookies are another popular South American sweet. Alfjaores are made of two melt-in-your-mouth cookies sandwiched around a dulce de leche filling (dulce de leche is called manjar blanco in Peru). This lucuma alfajor variation has dark chocolate cookies filled with manjar de lucuma (lucuma-flavored dulce de leche). It's a great flavor combination, as lucuma goes well with both chocolate and caramel. You can find frozen lucuma pulp in Latin food grocery stores.
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour, 35 minutes
Yield: About 25-30 sandwich cookies
- For the manjar de lucuma filling:
- 1 14 ounce package frozen lucuma pulp (such as Goya)
- 1 (14 ounce) can of sweetened condensed milk (about 1 1/2 cups)
- 1 cup evaporated milk
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- Generous pinch of salt (optional)
- 1 tablespoon corn syrup
- For the cookies:
- 1 cup cornstarch
- 1 1/2 cups flour
- 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup butter, softened
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 1 tablespoon vanilla
- 2 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate
- Toasted coconut or finely chopped nuts (optional)
- Make the manjar de lucuma: Place the evaporated milk, the condensed milk, the corn syrup, and the lucuma pulp in a heavy-bottomed pot. Add the baking soda, and pinch of salt if desired.
- Cook and stir over medium low heat. The water will begin to evaporate as steam. Stir steadily so that the mixture does not stick to the bottom of the pan and burn. Adjust the temperature so that the mixture stays just barely at a simmer.
- The mixture will slowly begin to thicken and darken slightly in color. Keep stirring - it takes lots of patience.
- Cook and stir until the mixture is making big slow bubbles and is very thick. Lift the spoon out of the pot and drizzle some of the caramel over the surface. If it forms a ribbon that does not disappear after 10 seconds or so, it is ready. Also check by dragging the spoon along the bottom of the pot. You should be able to see the bottom of the pot for a few seconds before the thickened mixture closes in on itself and covers the bottom. The mixture will have been simmering for 30-45 minutes.
- Tip: If the mixture starts to stick to the bottom of the pan and burn, you can quickly change to a fresh pan. If there are burnt pieces already mixed in, strain the mixture through a fine mesh sieve into the clean pot, and continue cooking and stirring. (Note: if you don't have time to watch and carefully stir the mixture, you can prepare the manjar in the microwave according to this method. The microwave is also tedious, but the manjar will not burn and does not need to be constantly supervised).
- Let manjar mixture cool while you prepare the cookies. Chop the chocolate into small pieces. Place chocolate into a bowl, and place the bowl over a pot of just simmering water. Make sure that the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water. Remove pot from heat, and stir the chocolate occasionally until it's melted. Let cool slightly.
- Place the cornstarch, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt in the bowl of a standing mixer.
- Add the butter to the flour mixture, and blend with the paddle attachment until just mixed.
- Add the powdered sugar and vanilla and mix until smooth.
- Stir in the melted chocolate until smooth and blended. If dough fails to come together and is too dry, add 1-2 tablespoons of water as needed.
- Let cookie dough rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
- Roll the dough out to 3/8" thickness, and cut into 2 inch circles.
- Place the cookies on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
- Bake cookies for 8 to 10 minutes, until they are just barely beginning to brown at the edges. Let cookies cook on cookie sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer them to a rack to cool completely.
- To fill the cookies, spread one cookie with a teaspoon or two of the manjar de lucuma, and top with second cookie. Cookies are very fragile so handle carefully. The manjar should be still a bit warm or a room temperature - cold manjar will be too firm and break the cookies. You can soften the manjar in the microwave as needed. Roll the edges of the sandwiched cookies in toasted coconut or nuts if desired.
- Sprinkle cookies with powdered sugar just before serving.
- Store in airtight container.
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