Sunday, February 14, 2010

Dulce de Leche Sandwich Cookies

All last week I was looking forward to making something outside the box.... something unexpected and different perhaps.  When browsing the Joy the Baker blog, I came across the cutest looking cookie sandwiches.  After perusing my various cookbooks and googling around, I was convinced that this simple recipe was the way to go. Nothing to screw up and I figured the simplicity of the outer cookie would make the filling that much more lucious.

 
So here you have it, my very own Alfajores.  Alfajores are traditional cookies in South, Central and Latin America as well as Mexico.  Some reading about these delectible treats revealed that these cookies are not native to the Spanish countries but rather, came from the Arab world in the mid 19th century!  Now that you have today's history lesson, I hold off no longer

 
   INGREDIENTS:
  •      1 c. butter or margarine (softened)
  •      2/3 c. sugar
  •      1 egg
  •      1 tsp vanilla
  •      2.5 c. flour
  •      1 tbsp cinnamon
  •      1 can dulce de leche (Note below)
  DIRECTIONS:
  • Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, beat in egg and vanilla.
  • Add flour and cinnamon and mix until well combined.
  • Wrap in plastic and chill for at least one hour or overnight
  • Preheat oven to 350
  • Roll cookies out to about 1/8 inch thickness. (this is probably thinner than most cookies you have made, but don't fret!)Cut circles (or other shapes, I used a champagne flute for the circles and a cookie cutter for the rippled)
  • Bake on greased cookie sheet for about 12-15 minutes (keep a close eye on them after 10 minutes- if you are using a thin dark nonstick pan, 13 minutes was right on the money for me)
  • Allow cookies to cool completely and then make into sandwiches by spooning some Dolce de Leche on one half and pressing and gently pressing a second cookie on top.
MY Dulce de Leche experience and tips:
NOW- for the Dulce de Leche....  I was surprised to learn that all Dulce de Leche is, is caramelized condensed milk (there are also recipes of how to do this from scratch from milk and sugar, which is all condensed milk is anyway). After reading and reading and reading about how to make the perfect Dulce de Leche, I nervously followed the directions of many. 

 
Making Dolce de Leche:
  • Bring pot of water to a boil, remove label from can and insert entire can of condensed milk in pot.
  • Make sure that the can is submerged under water the entire time, with about 1 inch of water or more above the can at all times!
  • Bring back to boil and then reduce to simmer for about 3 hours.
  • Remove from water and allow to cool for about 1 hr. DO NOT open can while hot.
  • In theory, opening the can should reveal a thick caramel spread, so thick that if you put some on a spoon and flip upside down and shake, it won't move!

 
 I FAILED. M-I-S-E-R-A-B-L-Y.  I have a love/hate relationship with our gas range.  It just can't seem to get the flame low enough for a gentle simmer. Not for soup, or rice, or pasta. Its either simmering like crazy or nothing- with nothing in between.  So, for about 2.5 hours my can stayed in boiling hot water with NO simmer.  I guess I was so scared to turn the heat up too high and have the can explode into the air, that I never actually got the contents hot enough.  So, although my shiny silver can got scortching hot with dark brown rusty looking spots on the outside, on the inside, it was just not hot enough. (No need to worry about the rusty looking spots, its only on the outside of the can).  I let the can cool and opened it up, and all I had was warm consensed milk. It was NOT thick and gooy like caramel.  Thinking I had to run back out to the store, I was disappointed. Hours of waiting all for nothing. By alas, some more browsing of recipes and directions and I decided to place the contents of the can in a small sauce pan over medium heat and stir stir stir like crazy for about 10 minutes. DO NOT STOP STIRRING until it really thickens up--boy was it caramelized.  I then removed it from heat for a few minutes, all the while still stirring so it did not burn to the buttom of the pan.  The only way I can describe it is what a caramel candy would probably look like if you put it in the microwave for 20 seconds.  Stick to your teeth gooyness!  SUCCESS!

 
Working quickly with a knife, I plopped the condensed milk turned into Dolce de Leche into the middle of a cookie, gently pressed a second cookie on top to form a sandwich, while being careful not to smush too much as to have it ooze out.  After sitting for about an hour, the outer cookie softened up just a pinch and the filling hardened up a bit and was no longer getting stuck to DH's teach. DELICIOUS. These little cookie sandwiches are like a bucket of gold. First, they are super cute to put in a cookie tin for a gift, or on a platter for a party. Second, they were ultra easy to make, especially now that I will never boil the can again!

 
My only regret.... making only 1/2 of the recipe!

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