Welcome back to Cookie Monday! Enjoy this week’s installment:
One of the best things about having a food blog is that friends and family members are always bringing me new recipes they found, or special ingredients that they think I might like. Recently one of my friends, who, on top of giving me an entire bag of perfectly ripe peaches and apples from her garden, gave me nearly an entire kilo of Dulce de Leche straight from Argentina. I’m so lucky to be friends with such generous and thoughtful people.
Dulce de Leche, which roughly translated means “sweet milk,” is a traditional spread from South America made from caramelized sweetened condensed milk. Imagine a deeply flavored caramel sauce that’s so thick it has to be scooped with a spoon. In Argentina, Dulce de Leche is used to make cookies called Alfajores, which are shortbread cookies with Dulce de Leche in the center. There are many variations: some Alfajores are dipped in chocolate, while others include coconut. I decided to make the simplest version, with vanilla shortbread and a layer of Dulce de Leche, and I have my eye on a chocolate coated variation for the next batch. I was very pleased with how my first batch came out, especially since I’ve wanted to make Alfajores ever since I saw a picture of them on a food blog almost two years ago.
These Alfajores are best just a few hours out of the oven, when the crisp edges of the cookies contrast the viscous filling. They come with the highest recommendation there is: 4 dozen of them were gone in five minutes at Chamber Singers.
P.S. Don’t be too surprised if some of the recipes in the next few weeks are a little Dulce de Leche heavy, because I have 2 more delicious cups of it to have some fun experimenting with in the kitchen.
Makes about 3 dozen Alfajores
16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ teaspoon salt
¾ teaspoon baking powder
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup Dulce de Leche
- In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine the butter and sugar and beat on medium speed until fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla and beat on low until combined. Add the salt, baking powder, and flour, and mix on low until just combined.
- Turn the dough out onto a very lightly floured work surface, and divide into two equal pieces. Roll each piece into a cylinder 1 ½ inches in diameter, and wrap in parchment paper. Refrigerate the dough for at least 1 hour to chill. Dough can be refrigerated for up to two days in advance, but be sure to place the parchment rolls in a Ziploc bag to avoid odor absorption.
- Once the dough has chilled, preheat the oven to 350F and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Remove the dough from the refrigerator, and using a sharp knife, slice it into cookies 3/8 inch thick. Place 1 inch apart on the prepared baking sheets, and bake for 8-10 minutes, until the edges of the cookies have set and are just barely turning golden brown. Let cool on wire racks before filing the cookies.
- To fill the cookies, spread a layer of Dulce de Leche (about 1-2 teaspoons per cookie) on half of the cooled cookies, then top with the remaining cookies to create the signature alfajores.
Note: These cookies are best served on the day they are made to preserve their crisp texture. No Dulce de Leche? Fill these with Nutella instead.