Alfajores, Spanish spiced fruit and nut biscuits

Food & drink
Alfajores, Spanish spiced fruit and nut biscuits

The coincidence of a week in Barcelona and a publisher sending me a copy of Frank Camorra’s staggering Movida Rustica cookbook has left me cooking a lot of Spanish food.

I make no apologies for this, but warn that it may continue for a while yet.

Movida Rustica is three hundred and sixty-eight pages long.  That’s a lot of recipes.

These biscuits, alfajores, are a throw back to the Moorish settlement of Spain.  They’re a typically Arabic sweetmeat, famous in Andalusia, and most prominently, in Cadiz.  There are many variations across the Spanish world, but the basic alfajore consists of flour, honey, almonds and spices.

First, toast 250g of flour, spread thinly over a pair of large baking trays in a hot oven for twelve to fifteen minutes or until the flour is a rich golden colour and begins to smell nutty.  At the same time, roast some blanched almonds – 125g – on another baking tray for eight to ten minutes or until they start to turn golden.

When the flour and almonds have cooled a little, tip the flour into a mixing bowl and process the nuts in a food processor or blender until they’re fairly finely chopped.

Alfajores Spanish spiced fruit and nut biscuits

Add the toasted flour to the food processor and mix it into the almonds, then add 125g of unsalted butter, chopped into small chunks and pulse it into the flour until the butter is completely rubbed in.

Add 160g of finely chopped dried figs, 60g of sultanas, 100ml of honey, the zest of half a lemon, the heads of ten cloves, ground up finely and half a teaspoon of ground cinnamon.  Mix the fruit and spices in well and bring the mixture together with 20ml of Pedro Ximenez sherry.  The dough should be soft, and will need setting to one side for half an hour to rest and toughen up a bit.

When the dough has rested, divide it into thirty pieces.  If you’re stupid, like me, you’ll start to hack off pieces of dough wondering how the hell you’re going to ever get thirty roughly even pieces, before realising that you should have just cut the whole piece into three, then each of the three pieces into two and each of those pieces into five, which is much easier overall.  But don’t do as I say, do as I do and get hacking.

Roll each of the pieces of dough out into eight centimetre cylinders until they look like short cigars.

Place the alfajores on a floured tray and bake in a 180c oven for fifteen minutes.

To finish, and whilst they’re still warm, roll each of the biscuits in icing sugar, so that they’re completely covered.

Alfajores are great with coffee, but they’re even better with a dark and nutty oloroso sherry.

18 comments… add one
  • Belinda @zomppa Jul 21, 2010

    Ooo yum! This is a great recipe! The alfajores I'm in love with are these Peruvian-inspired ones from Mistti!

  • Squeaky Gourmet Jul 21, 2010

    Oh my gosh these look so wonderful!!

  • Carol Egbert Jul 21, 2010

    What a clever idea to toast the flour. I'm sure it enriches the taste. Thanks for a great post!

  • FrenchPressMemos Jul 21, 2010

    I am crazy about the Latin American- dulce de leche-filled one although this looks amazing too! Never had it and probably wouldn't have known of this more traditional Spanish variation.

  • fooddreamer Jul 21, 2010

    These look so interesting. Keep all the Spanish recipes coming!

  • redkathy Jul 22, 2010

    WOW these sound great! Remind me of some of the Italian "cookies" my grandma used to make. Well at least she called them cookies, great to dunk in coffee! She was born in Northern part of Italy.

  • jillyann Jul 22, 2010

    These look delicious. I'm intrigued by the toasted flour as well. I imagine that makes a big difference in the taste. Love dates, sultanas and all dried fruits really so Im sure I'd find these irresistable.

  • Liv Wan Jul 22, 2010

    This biscuits looks so cool. I bet it's must be really tasty. 😀

  • leigh Jul 22, 2010

    Man, they look so good, man! Gonna be trying this one out.

  • Magic of Spice Jul 22, 2010

    These look wonderful…

  • Brie Jul 22, 2010

    ooo, these look addictingly delicious. they remind me of Greek Kourambiedes, mmm!

  • Megan @ Foodalution Jul 23, 2010

    Yes,,,, delicious. Their colour is lovely and who wouldn't love Spanish food. Barcelona is one of my favorite cities. Can't wait for more!

  • Tiffany Jul 23, 2010

    They look absolutely lovely. :)

  • The Mom Chef Jul 23, 2010

    These look amazing! I'm falling in love with so many different cuisines! Thank you for sharing this with us.

  • Shree Jul 29, 2010

    ooh I seem to have had these before. almond and flour cookies. Although didn't know what they were called, thanks for sharing the recipe

  • Drea Apr 25, 2011

    I have made this recipe 2x. the 1st with 80gm of butter ( it was all I had) and they came out great!!! The second time with the original amount of butter but I sub. dates for the figs and they were really good too. The next time I make them I plan to sub the butter for olive oil because most of this treats were made traditionally with either lard or olive oil( the latter was the poor man's version). Thanks soo much!! I think I might order the book.

  • mrk Sep 21, 2015

    Made these as per the directions but had a heck of a time trying to shape them without them falling apart, cracking and crumbling; no way these were able to be rolled out. Instead I had to squish them between in my palms to get them to hold shape. Added a bit of canola oil to the batch to help keep them together which seemed to help. The baked fine and were a different texture than I had expected, a bit dry but I guess that’s to be expected without egg. Made a second batch with one egg and a bit of salt which greatly improved the taste (salt) and the dough held together much better without being too cakey (egg) and not as crumbly and dry. Also used 1/2 butter and 1/2 bacon fat. Nice mix with the dried figs and golden raisins. Realize this may be bastardizing this cookie; apologies.

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