Andalusian Alfajores Recipe, a Christmas Sweet with a lot of History

The Andalusian alfajores are a traditional Andalusian sweet. There are many variations of this sweet, but they all agree that honey, almonds and spices must be present. In fact, it is believed that the presence of honey and nuts, present in many Andalusian recipes, comes from the Moorish and Jewish influence in this region of Spain. The alfajores corroborate this theory, as they were originally called alajú; from the Arabic term al-hasú meaning “filling”.

Furthermore, Andalusian alfajores are typical of Christmas. Their presence in southern Spain has been known since the 12th century and their popularity was such that the alfajores were used in the warehouses of the first Spanish ships travelling to America. Medina Sidonia has had a lot to do with their conservation, and its confectionery tradition is based on the ancestral recipe of the alfajores, a quality recognised by the PGI (Protected Geographical Indication).

Ingredients for the Andalusian Alfajores:

For the dough:

  • 250 g of honey
  • 250 g of sugar
  • 200 g of ground almonds
  • 200 g of almond granules
  • 75 g water
  • 40 g of breadcrumbs
  • A tbspof  sesame
  • 1 teaspoon of aniseed
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • Zest of half a lemon
  • Zest of half an orange
  • 1 clove
  • Half a teaspoon of ground nutmeg

Syrup for the cover of the Andalusian Alfajores:

  • 200 g of sugar
  • 200 g of water
  • Powdered sugar

How to Make Andalusian Alfajores:

  1. Toast the sesame and the aniseed in a frying pan, taking care that they do not get burnt; removing them from the heat when they are golden. Toast the almond granules using the same procedure.
  2. Now prepare the syrup from the Andalusian alfajores. In a saucepan, put the sugar, the 75 g of water and the honey on the heat until it boils for 1 minute. Remove any foam that appears and leave it on a low heat so that it does not get cold.
  3. In a mortar, crush the sesame, the aniseed and the clove. Take the syrup off the heat and add the ground almonds, zest of lemon and orange, sesame, aniseed and cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg. Mix everything well. Finally, add the toasted almond and the breadcrumbs little by little until you get a thick dough. You can add more breadcrumbs if the dough needs it.
  4. Pour the dough from the Andalusian alfajores onto the work surface (covered with powdered sugar) and let it cool down a little. Then mould it into a 1-centimetre thick roll and cut portions of about 3 centimetres each. Give them the shape of croquettes.
  5. Prepare the syrup for the topping by adding the water and the sugar, leaving it to boil for 2 or 3 minutes. Let it cool down a little and, when it is warm, dip all your Andalusian alfajores in it. Place them on a rack to drain. Then dip them in plenty of powdered sugar and leave them to dry for at least 4-5 hours, until a hard crust forms.
  6. You can wrap your alfajores in tissue paper, as if they were a kind of candy, or serve them without anything; the result will be just as good.

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