Continuing with the traditions of my country, "alfajores de dulce de leche" are the most famous cookie. They are present in every party and in every "mate gathering" except when "tortas fritas" are present (If you want to know what a "torta frita" is stay tuned, I'll be cooking some soon!). They are super delicious and my kids get super excited when this is for dessert. It is simply a shortbread cookie and you stuff dulce de leche in the middle like a sandwich. Dulce de leche is a kind of "caramel" and is really famous in my country. Honestly I cannot find any here that matches the quality of the ones made by Conaprole (the dairy company that makes this in my country). I even have a Brazilian friend here that whenever she goes back home she HAS to buy the uruguayan dulce de leche. Once you try it, there is no going back to the other brands! Anyway, we eat this dulce on bread, we dip fruit on it, we eat tortas fritas with it, anything you can think of... I will be making dulce de leche flan soon, another one of my family's favorites! (Tip: you can also make your own with sweetened condensed milk in the crockpot, did you know?)
The process of making alfajores can be a little lengthy so you need to plan ahead if you want to make this for dessert or for a party. The good news is that you can prepare the dough on advance and leave it in the refrigerator up to 24 hours.
The ingredients are:
- 1 stick of SOFTENED butter
- 1 cup of flour
- 1 cup of cornstarch
- 3/4 cup of sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 YOLK
- pinch of salt
- 1 tsp of baking powder
- 1/2 tsp of vanilla
- lemon peel
- shredded coconut
- dulce de leche (here in the U.S I buy the brand Nestle that is sold at Walmart)
First, combine the DRY ingredients in a bowl. Set aside. Next, mix the softened butter with the sugar and beat well with a mixer. Add the eggs, the egg yolk, vanilla and lemon peel (about a tsp) and beat well. Then add the dry ingredient mix.
Mix until the dough becomes a ball and leaves the sides of the bowl. I do this with a wooden spoon. Take a piece of plastic wrap, put the dough on top and wrap the dough. Let it rest for an hour in the refrigerator. This will help you in having a more "manageable" dough when it is time to roll it.
The dough will be a little firm, so roll with your hands first, then flour the counter and roll out like the picture. I use my daughter's cup to cut circles of that size, which are perfect. An alfajor is not supposed to be big, but I guess it COULD be if you wanted...
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and place the circles on a baking sheet with parchment paper ideally. I did not have this so I sprayed the pan and buttered it. Put the circles on top.
Here is me and my apron...remember???
Bake for 12 to 15 minutes. They DO NOT NEED TO LOOK BROWN, but rather white.
Let them cool completely. Meanwhile, get these ready...
I find the coconut here in the U.S to be shredded thicker than in South America. Our looks more like Parmesan cheese. Still tastes the same though ;-)
Make sure you prepare some mate to go with it, and if you are not a mate drinker, milk will do...