Melt in your mouth Alfajores get a bit of autumn flair when they are shaped like a pumpkin. The comfort of these cookies filled with dulce de leche seemed perfect with just a bit of cinnamon. Not everything fall has to have pumpkin in it, sometimes it is enough just to look like one!
I was making Alfajores and it was fall so why not pumpkin shaped? Dark golden dulce de leche filled delicate cookies with a little autumn orange decoration and a little cinnamon seemed seasonal to me. There is already Pumpkin Pies, Apple desserts and Spiced cakes that are so comforting but I do love cookies!
The Steps to making Pumpkin Shaped Alfajores
Dulce de Leche
You can use prepared dulce de leche to make these cookies. I prefer the texture of dulce de leche that is made by heating a can of sweetened condensed milk.
Pour a can of condensed milk into a 9″ (23cm) glass pie plate and cover tightly with foil. Bake at 400°F (200°C) for about 1½ hours in a water bath. Check that the water level doesn’t go down too much or the dulce de leche will burn on the outside. You also don’t want this to boil.
The Pumpkin Shaped Cookie
The cookie part has flour, cornstarch (cornflour), leavening agent, salt and cinnamon.
Cornstarch or cornflour is what makes these cookies so delicate and melt in your mouth. It gives baked goods a finer texture and is often added to shortbread.
Three egg yolks are added for liquid, stability and so the cookie is not hard. Cookies are hard, yes, but yolks give this a smooth, rich texture.
Combine the dry ingredients by sifting together and gently stirring with a whisk.
Thouroughly cream the butter and sugar together. Add the egg yolks one at a time to make sure each has been fully incorporated before adding the next.
Add the lemon zest.
Gradually add the flour mixture starting on low speed after each addition. If you are not using a stand mixer you should change to using a wooden spoon.
It may be a bit crumbly but give it a good knead, or mix with your mixer and it should come together fine. Gather it into a smooth ball, flatten, wrap it and refrigerate for about half an hour. (The more you flatten it now the easier it will be to roll it later).
Remove from the refrigerator and roll to ¼” (1 scant cm) thick. I roll it on the plastic I used to wrap the dough in topped with another piece of plastic, or use a silicone mat. You can work with half of the dough at a time, but I find if I have the space, I roll it all out because I have less scraps to reroll and only reroll once.
Cut 2” (5cm) diameter pumpkin shapes or just 2” (5cm) diameter circles. Refrigerate for about 20 minutes. It is much easier to lift and move them when they are cold. Remove the scraps to reroll. Place the pumpkin shaped Alfajores on prepared baking sheet and freeze for about 15 minutes before baking. This helps to reduce spreading and the cookie should hold its shape.
You can freeze the cookies at this point for baking at a later date.
Bake for about 9 minutes. Cool completely before filling and decorating.
Filling the Alfajores with dulce de leche
Pipe, or spread 2 teaspoons of Dulce de Leche on the bottoms of half of the cookies. Be a bit frugal with the dulce de leche at first. Make sure they all have some, then add more to the ones that need it. This way if the first few have lots of filling and the last few don’t have much, or any at all you can adjust that now.
Gently but firmly press the bottom of another cookie on top.
Decorating the Pumpkin Shaped Alfajores
I like using candy melts or chocolate for decorating cookies because it sets nicely and all I have to do is melt it properly. What I mean by properly is heating in the microwave without burning. This just takes a bit of patience because if you are in a rush heating faster seems like a good idea.
Microwave the melts or chocolate for about 20 seconds then let it sit for the heat to spread. Microwave for another 20 seconds and let is sit for about half of a minute then move it around a bit. I use a knife to stir. If it needs more time try another 15 seconds or so. This depends on how much you are melting of course but for what we need here, it won’t take long. Stir it until smooth and scrape into a silicone piping bottle, a plastic bag and cut the tip off, or make one using a triangle of baking parchment.
The problem with using chocolate or candy melts is that you have to use it right away since it starts to harden as it cools.
You could also combine ½ cup icing sugar and a scant tablespoon of milk, water or lemon juice and some food colouring. Stir until smooth and scrape into a piping bag. You could also use royal icing.
Pumpkin Shaped Alfajores
- Stand Mixer optional
- 2" (5cm) pumpkin shaped cookie cutter optional
- 1 cup All purpose flour (125g)
- 1½ cups Corn starch (cornflour) (178g)
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- ¼ tsp salt
- ¾ cup unsalted butter, room temperature (170g)
- ⅔ cup Granulated sugar (133g)
- 3 large egg yolks
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 2 tsp lemon zest
- 1 cup Dulche de leche (250mL)
- ½ cup orange candy melts (80g)
- Grease a baking sheet or line it with baking parchment
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C)
- Sift together the flour, cornstarch baking powder, baking soda and salt to combine.
- Beat the butter with the sugar for about 2 minutes.
- Add the egg yolks one at a time beating well after each addition to make sure it is fully incorporated.
- Add the lemon zest to the butter mixture. Beat for about 3 minutes.
- Add the flour mixture gradually and mix in, starting on low speed.
- Give it a good knead to smooth the cookie dough, flatten it and wrap it. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- Remove the dough from the refrigerator and roll to ¼“ (a scant cm) thick.
- Cut 2” (5cm) diameter pumpkin shapes or circles. Remove the extra dough from around the shapes to reroll.
- Refrigerate the whole sheet for about 20 minutes. This will make it easier to move the cookie dough for baking.
- Move the unbaked cookies to the prepared baking sheet with the help on a knife or off set knife and freeze for about 15 minutes before baking. This will lessen spreading and keep your shapes a little more sharp.
- Bake for about 9 minutes. Be aware of browning on the bottom, the cookies should not get too dark.
- Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for about 10 minutes before removing to cool completely.
- Pipe, or spread a teaspoon of Dulce de Leche on the bottoms of half of the cookies and gently but firmly press the bottom of another cookie on top.
- In a small bowl, melt the candy melts in the microwave for 20-30 seconds. Let sit for the heat to spread. Check to see how much longer it needs to be heated. Probably just another 10-20 seconds.
- Stir well until smooth and put into a piping bag or silicone squeeze bottle if you have one for chocolate, or a plastic bag and cut a small hole off of the tip.
- Pipe around the perimeter of the cookie if you would like and make lines to give it a pumpkin look.