December 21, 2012

Day 12: Alfajores con Dulce de Leche

¡Feliz Viernes! Happy Friday!

Today is also the last day, Day 12, of my 12 Days of Christmas Cookies. Are you a bit sad? Well, don't be because I saved a very special cookie to share with you today: alfajores con dulce de leche.

The first time I had alfajores was when I was traveling in Peru during their wintertime. Practically everyday, my friend and I would brave the cold night and walk to the local bakery down the street from our living quarters and pick out our daily pastries, alfajores included. Near the end of our time in Peru, we discovered mini alfajores being sold in a bakery in the town square. Those were the best ones I've had yet. I couldn't get enough of them and managed to bring some home with me, savoring them for as long as possible down to the very last crumb. That was a few years ago. But fortunately, I recently came across this recipe, and it is very close to the ones that I found in the town square.

You have to understand, I am quite excited about this cookie. When you bite into it, the buttery, flaky cookie just crumbles in your mouth while the sweet dulce de leche brings it all back together. Pretty much a perfect distribution of flavor all around. A perfect way to start your Winter Solstice.

Alfajores con Dulce de Leche

for dough
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cornstarch
2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2 teaspoon vanilla extract

for filling/dusting
store-bought dulce de leche (or cajeta, which was what I had on-hand)
confectioner's sugar

make dough
1. Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
2. Beat in the egg and yolk, one at a time, until well combined. Add in the vanilla extract.
3. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and salt. Gradually add these dry ingredients to your butter mixture and mix until just combined.
4. Working quickly, turn the dough out from the bowl and roll and pack it into a solid ball. Tightly wrap your dough ball with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour.

dough/equipment prep and bake
1. Line your baking sheets with silicon baking mats or parchment paper and set aside.
2. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out until it is 1/4 inch thick. Make sure you rotate the dough every so often during rolling so the dough doesn't stick to your surface.
3. Using a 2-inch fluted or round cutter, cut the cookies out and carefully transfer them to your baking sheet, placing them about 1 inch apart.
4. Chill your dough again by placing your baking sheet in the refrigerator for 15-20 minutes, until the dough is very firm. While the dough is chilling, preheat oven to 350°F.
5. Bake cookies at 350°F for 8-10 minutes, until the tops of the cookie have just firmed and the bottoms are starting to color slightly.
6. Remove from the oven and allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for about 5 minutes before moving them to a wire rack to cool completely.

assemble cookies
1. Drop, pipe, or spread a teaspoon (or more!) of dulce de leche (in my case, I happened to have cajeta in the refrigerator) into the center of each cookie, then top it with another cookie. Make sure to leave an even amount of cookies not topped with dulce de leche in order to make the cookie sandwiches.
2. Sift confectioner's sugar over the cookie sandwiches.

*** ENJOY!

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