The weather continues to force me to make my own sunshine. It’s cool! I can totally handle it – I’ve got Meyer lemons. And when life hands me Meyer lemons I make not only lemonade but all sorts of things. Last year it was these adorable cakes (excuse the photos, I didn’t know what I was doing yet), this year it’s these Meyer Lemon Alfajores.
Alfajores are enjoyed throughout Spain and Central America. The most ubiquitous version of the cookie hails from Argentina where it plays an important part in the country’s cafe culture. In Argentina, an alfajor features two buttery cookies sandwiched together with a dulce de leche center. The cookies are then rolled in coconut and dusted with confectioner’s sugar. If you haven’t had one, run, don’t walk, to your nearest alfajor.
I know it’s a little weird to substitute anything for dulce de leche because it’s dulce de leche! But when I spy Meyer lemons, I make room for them in my plans whatever they may be. As I mentioned, warmth and sunshine continue to evade us here. So, including a bright yellow Meyer lemon curd in my alfajores wasn’t a choice, it was a necessity. I opted to include fresh mint for two reasons. 1. I’m a massive fan of limonana and drink about a hundred of them every summer. And 2. all this rain has gifted me with an increasingly intimidating mint forest in my backyard. It seemed like the only responsible thing to do was to start chipping away at it. Sadly, this meant gathering mint in the rain. And a cold rain too – my most hated of all rain.
I think I’ve mentioned elsewhere on this blog that I’m a huge fan of tart lemon desserts. Nothing is more disappointing to me than ordering a lemon bar or something similar and finding it overly sweet. Let lemons be lemons or don’t include them at all. Anyway, when it came time to plan out these Meyer Lemon Alfajores I opted to cut the sugar in my curd in half and invite half of a regular lemon to the party. Meyer lemons tend to be more floral and sweeter in flavor than their ubiquitous counterparts, so I thought a hint of a traditional lemon’s tartness would up the pucker factor without disrupting the unique flavor of the Meyer lemons.
In the end, I wound up with a curd that was on the verge of too sour on its own but absolute perfection between two buttery cookies. It’s all about finding balance in the finished product. It is a complete lie that if every component tastes good by itself the finished product will be phenomenal. It’s like filling a stage with divas and expecting them not sing over each other.
I stayed very traditional when it came to the alfajores cookies themselves. I absolutely love how they crumble and melt in your mouth. The secret to their perfectly crumbly texture is, of course, a whole lot of butter and cornstarch. The resulting dough is a touch on the crumbly side and a bit temperamental to work with, but I found it easier to roll out when I it split in two. I strongly advise that you follow my lead and work in batches.
If you’re making these Meyer Lemon Alfajores for your own personal consumption, please be aware this recipe makes 2 dozen sandwich cookies. I made sure that some of my cookies would have a good home far away from me before I took up this project. You can, of course, half the recipe, but that can get tricky when it comes to things that are not easily divided, like egg yolks. You’re best bet is to go whole hog and give some of them away. You’ll be very popular if you do, I promise. These Meyer Lemon Alfajores taste just like the best lemon bar you’ve ever had with a refreshing hit of mint that makes them complete unique and completely delicious.
Go forth and share the cookie wealth. Make these Meyer Lemon Alfajores and spread a little sunshine.
- 1 cup cornstarch
- 3/4 cup all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons heavy cream
- 1 batch Meyer lemon curd, chilled
- 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves
- Confectioner's sugar for dusting
- Juice of 5 Meyer lemons
- Zest of 1 Meyer lemon
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 4 egg yolks
- 2 whole eggs
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- Place zest, lemon juice, sugar, butter, and salt in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir until the butter melts and the sugar is completely dissolved.
- In a medium-sized bowl whisk egg yolks, eggs, and cornstarch together until fully integrated and pale yellow in colour.
- Pour 1/2 cup of the hot lemon mixture into the egg mixture, whisking constantly to temper the eggs.
- Add the eggs to the saucepan and cook over low heat until the curd thickens.
- Remove the curd from the heat and transfer to a bowl. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
- Preheat the oven to 350F.
- Sift cornstarch, flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together in a large mixing bowl. Set aside.
- In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar together.
- Pour in the egg yolks and vanilla extract and beat for 5 minutes on a low speed.
- Add the dry ingredients to the mixer and beat until a crumbly dough forms.
- Add the heavy cream and beat until the dough comes together.
- Turn the dough onto a well-floured surface and form into a ball. Flatten into a disc and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
- Take the dough out of the fridge and place on a well-floured piece of parchment paper. Let it soften at room temperature for 15 minutes.
- Using a floured rolling pin, roll the dough out to a 1/4-inch thick. Using a 2-inch round cookie cutter, cut the dough into rounds.
- Place the finished cookies on a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicon baking mat. Refrigerate for 15 minutes before placing in the oven.
- Bake the cookies for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Transfer to a cooling rack and cool completely.
- To assemble the cookies, place a 1/2 teaspoon of meyer lemon curd on the base of one cookie. Place a fresh mint leaf on top of the curd and take another cookie to create a sandwich.
- Dust the finished cookies with confectioner's sugar and enjoy.