Monday, January 21, 2013

Alfajores Recipe [Dulce de Leche Cookie Sandwich]

Alphajores are Argentine dulce de leche sandwich cookies that are easy to make and absolutely delicious!  I fell in love with these little suckers during my study abroad trip to Buenos Aires, Argentina.  My friends and I recently hosted an Empananda Party for our Argentina Reunion.  Logically, the only dessert that would be appropriate for an Empanada Party would be alphajores!  These buttery shortbread cookies are filled with rich, creamy dulce de leche that is not too saccharin-y sweet.  Plus, the dulce de leche is simple and affordable to make from scratch. The only downfall is that it takes 4 hours to make.  But hey, you'll be able to make enough creamy dulce de leche that will last you for days.  Recipe modified from The Food Nework.   For great tips and variations on how to make dulce de leche from scratch, check out this Wikihow article.
Alphajores Recipe
2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted. Plus extra for dusting (optional)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups dulce de leche, at room temperature (Recipe follows)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
  1. With a fork or pastry cutter, combine flour, sugar, salt and butter until dough comes together into a ball. If the dough is too sticky add a little more flour so that you can shape the soft dough into a ball. 
  2. Wrap the dough ball in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 20 to 30 minutes.
  3. Sprinkle some flour onto your work surface and roll the dough 1/8-inch thick. Using a 2-inch round cookie cutter cut out the cookies and transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet. Bring the dough scraps together and gently press into a ball. Flour your work surface, re-roll 1/8-inch thick and cut out more rounds. 
  4. Bake the cookies until they are golden on the edges and firm, about 15 to 20 minutes. 
  5. Remove the cookies from the oven and let cool for 15 minutes.
  6. Spread about 1 1/2 teaspoons of the dulce de leche on the flat side of a cookie and sandwich with the flat side of another cookie. 
  7. Place the cookies on a platter.  For an added touch, dust them with powdered sugar and serve.
Dulce de Leche Recipe
1 can sweetened condensed milk

  1. Remove label from can of sweetened condensed milk.
  2. Pierce two holes in the can with a can opener.  DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP.
  3. Place a folded towel on the bottom of a saucepan. Then place can on top of the towel.  This will prevent the can from rattling for four hours. 
  4. Fill pot with water up just until the water is one inch below the top of the can. 
  5. Turn stove on to medium-high heat. 
  6. Cook for at least four hours.  The longer you cook, the firmer the dulce de leche will be. 
  7. Remove the can with a pair of tongs. 
  8. Carefully open the can with a can opener and pour into a mixing bowl. 
  9. Whisk until the dulce de leche is smooth. 
  10. Wait until cooled.  Serve and eat.
Fold a towel and lay on the bottom of a medium saucepan.
Remove label from can of sweetened condensed milk.
VERY IMPORTANT: On the top of the can, puncture two holes on opposite ends. If you skip this step, the can might explode.
Place can on top of the folded towel, inside the saucepan.  This will prevent the can from rattling and annoying the sh*t out of you.
Carefully fill the saucepan with water until the water hits one-inch below the can.
Throughout the cooking process, remember to add water so the water level stays one-inch below the top of the can.
Over medium to high heat, bring water to a boil.  Keep the water boiling and cook the sweetened condensed milk for 4 hours.
Using a teaspoon, scrap off any excess sweetened condensed milk that reaches the top of the can.  Be sure to keep an eye on the can and water level the entire 4 hours.  I would check back every 30 minutes. 
After 4 hours, carefully remove the can with a pair of tongs.
Using a can opener, carefully remove the lid.
Pour the contents into a mixing bowl.  The top of the sweetened condensed milk will look runny.
However the bottom will consist of a thick, gelatinous dulce de leche.
With a whisk, stir until smooth.
The dulce de leche should reach a dark amber color.  Set aside and let cool.
In a separate bowl, add all ingredients for the shortbread.
With a fork or pastry cutter, cut the ingredients to combine.
A dough should form.
Mold into a ball, wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
On a flat, working surface, spread flour.
Take half of the dough.
Roll out into a sheet that is approximately 1/8-inch thick.  I was at Boyfriend's apartment so I had to make use of a wine bottle instead of a rolling pin. 
With a 2-inch diameter cookie cutter, cut out cookies.
Peel off excess.
Place on a lined baking sheet.  Bake for approximately 20 minutes in a 350-degree oven.
Edges should be golden but the top should be white.
Let cool.
Place cookies on a plate for assembly.
Scoop out 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons of dulce de leche.
Place on the flat side of a cookie.
Take another cookie and place on top, flat-side down to create a sandwich.
 Happy baking. 


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