Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Eating the Americas - Alfajores

Our Eating the Americas project has run into a few snags lately, being interrupted by Thanksgiving, and then not being able to try some things because our oven wasn't working correctly. This week I braved the unreliable oven to bake a cookie that is popular through South America - alfajores. There are different variations of the cookie in each country, so the recipe we chose was one from Peru that looked to be very simple. I found it in Eat Your Way Around the Word by Jamie Aramini.

These are basically Caramel-filled Cookies, and the cookies are similar to a shortbread - light and not too sweet. I thought we might be successful in baking these even with an oven that was sketchy because they are baked at only 300 degrees.

The dough was delicious, by the way. We had to shoo cookie-dough snatchers from our work area a few times. But Kennady and I helped ourselves. ;-)

These cookies are rolled and cut out, traditionally in circles so that they can be put together in sandwiches, but I allowed to Kennady to make about half the batch in tree and bell shapes. If I make these again, I will use smaller cookie cutters. These large cookies were a little too much at a time, when made into the sandwich.

The sandwich cookies are put together with a South American sweet staple - Dulce de Leche. Rather than make our own, I 'cheated' and just bought La Lechera from the Latino section of the grocery store. It costs a little more than a can of sweetened condensed milk, but was worth the convenience to me.

Alfajores (Caramel-filled Cookies)
2 cups cornstarch
1 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 cups butter, room temperature
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
3 tbsp milk

Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Cut in butter until crumbly. Add eggs, vanilla, and milk. Mix and then knead until smooth. You will need to get your hands in there! Let the dough rest for about twenty minutes at room temperature. Roll dough out about 1/4 inch thick. Cut out cookies and bake on ungreased cookie sheets for about 20 minutes, or until just beginning to brown at the edges. Allow to cool. Spread dulce de leche on one side of the cookie and top with another cookie. Sprinkle with powdered sugar.

(Dulce de leche may be made using a can of sweetened condensed milk. Just remove the label from the can and pierce the top of the can with two holes. Put it in a saucepan - pierced end up! - and fill the pan with water to about 1/4 inch below the top of the can. Bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for three hours. You will probably need to add more water to the pan as it evaporates. Cool before using in this recipe. Easy, but takes longer than I was willing to spend!)

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