Sunday, November 16, 2008

Cookies With The Deities

















Back in the day, when I lived for a while at Machu Picchu and communed nightly with the Incan deities who still haunt the ancient city, I used to keep my blood sugar afloat through mass consumption of...

Oh fine. I never lived there, never even visited - but, oh, how I wish I could write that line above! I've had the WORST travel lust of late. I constantly find myself thinking of trips I'd like to take, re-living trips I've already taken, or pseudo-planning trips I'm about to embark on any second. Lately, the news is so utterly depressing that I think this harsh reality lends itself nicely to fantasizing about travel, no?

I was recently perusing possible European trips again, but the exchange rate can suck it at the moment. I just ADORE Amsterdam and want so badly to take Tony there, since he's never been, but...sigh...I don't think it's in the cards right now. So, I started looking south...

Recently I was researching Machu Picchu once again (as I have a bajillion times), and have been lusting after South America ever since. Since Buenos Aires is known as the "Paris of South America", I'm positively salivating to visit - and really, the exchange rate is quite decent. Even so, after I calculate the price of a trip for 2, I end up slapping myself in the face for my wanderlust. So, I've been armchair-traveling via my laptop to South America - trying to escape the unending horrendous news regarding our economy.

During my pseudo travels, I came across multiple mentions of a South American cookie delight called Alfajores. Apparently, you haven't quite lived until you've had this cookie; apparently, some folks know what they're talking about. The discovery of this little darling of a cookie makes my faux travels totally worthwhile.

So, before I get on with the recipe for these doll-babies, where are some of your favorite places to travel? Where would you like to go someday?



















Alfajores


It was the pictures of these that first did me in - are they not adorable? They reminded me a bit of Parisian Macarons, but perhaps easier to actually accomplish than their appearance-cousin. Well, they were. They were a delight to make and delicious to put in my belly. The texture is incredible - I don't even know quite how to describe it; perhaps it's because of the cornstarch, but the cookie is soft and giving - which is perfect when you have a soft filling such as dulce de leche. The taste of the cookie is light, tangy, slightly buttery - like a soft, light shortbread, which again, compliments the filling perfectly. Confession: we liked these so much, that we couldn't bring ourselves to bring them into work for sharing! Selfish creatures indeed. So, they do cause hoarding, apparently.

5.3 oz. unsalted butter, softened
3.5 oz. powdered sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
5.3 oz. cornstarch
5.3 oz. AP flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
4 egg yolks
can of dulce de leche (Int'l section of grocery store) -or-

Dulce de Leche: take 1 can Sweetened Condensed Milk and remove the label. Without opening the can, poke a few holes in top of can using a can opener or a nail and hammer. Place the can in a saucepan and fill with water so that 2/3 of the can is covered. Boil for 3-4 hours, checking OFTEN that water is at an appropriate level. After 3-4 hours, carefully remove lid and pour into a bowl; stir until smooth. Allow to cool; then chill until consistency thickens.

Using an electric mixer, cream butter and powdered sugar in a medium bowl. Add yolks, one at a time, mixing thoroughly after each egg. Add vanilla and combine.

In another bowl, mix cornstarch, flour, baking powder and then add to butter mixture. Process only until dough is formed. Form dough into round disc and wrap with plastic; chill for at least 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 350F. On a floured surface, roll out the dough to just less then 1/4-inch thick. Cut out 1 1/2 inch rounds and place on lined cookie sheet, about 1 inch apart. Bake for about 10 minutes, or just until the cookies begin to change color on their underside. Remove from oven, remove cookies from pan and place on cooling rack.

Pipe or spread about 1 tsp. room-temperature dulce de leche on a cookie, place another cookie on top and press until filling shows at the edges of cookies. Many times, the edges of Alfajores are then rolled in coconut, but because we don't like coconut flakes, I rolled mine in sugar. ENJOY!

41 comments:

Clumbsy Cookie said...

Yay! I've beat you Morton! Look who's firt commenting now?!

Those are gorgeous, I think Argentinians should deserve a prize for those little devil cookies. Really, shortbread cookie WITH dulce de leche is just pure perfection. And you can allways close your eyes while eating them, put some tango playing and pretend you're in Buenos Aires!

bren@Flanboyant Eats said...

this actually reminds of me guava bars we make... it's been too long so this is a good visual reminder of how i need to make time to make them. like soon. and who doesn't love dulce de leche!?!?

Cindy said...

I have been reading your blog for a while now and the alfajores have compelled me to leave my first post. I love alfajores. I first encountered them when I was was an exchange student in Argentina in high school, and I swear I still dream about them (and that was almost 15 years ago now). I also studied in Peru in college, but I had to seek out the few alfajores I found. Those just never measured up to the first, wonderful, amazing cookie, which happen to look almost identical to yours. The only difference was theirs had a dusting of shredded coconut around the edges.
I will be making these at home. oh, and I say plan for the trip to Machu Picchu sometime...it is amazing, not that the other places are not, but it can be quite and experience.

Chocolate Shavings said...

Those look absolutely gorgeous! I'll have one now please!

Hillary said...

Do we have the exact same travel plans? This is so ironic - You mention Amsterdam and Buenos Aires and Machu Picchu. I went to Amsterdam last winter and Buenos Aires over the summer (both due to being incredibly lucky in having a friend that worked as an intern for United!) A friend and I were just dreaming the other day about going on another vacation and Machu Picchu came up!

As for the alfajores, I have to tell you yours look great and very authentic. I didn't love them when I had one in Buenos Aires as I thought they were too crumbly and dry, but I absolutely loved the dulce de leche!

You can read about my Amsterdam and Buenos Aires travels on my blog if you want! Just type those cities in the search box. :)

the cheap chick said...

Mmmm Dulce.... I'd never get these cookies made, because I am powerless against a can of ddl. And yes, I would eat the entire can before the cookies were finished. Don't judge me.

Real Live Lesbian said...

You. must. go.

To Macchu Picchu.

I went in March of this year and it is phenomenal. You don't need a guide, so you can do it on the cheap. Fly into Lima and enjoy!

We went to Bolivia first, then Peru, back to Bolivia and to Paraguay. Wouldn't quite recommend THAT. Spending 14 hours on a bus with one bathroom isn't as fun as it sounds.

I want one of those cookies!

Grace said...

every once in awhile i'll make a dessert too delectable to take into work, and i can already see that these would fall into that category. your description of them is amazing (as evidenced by the drool pooling up in my mouth). :)

flutter said...

ok, I am giving you a challenge. Make something for me, sugar free. I am dying to see what you come up with :)

Ann said...

CC: You won :)! These cookies ARE devlish - they lasted about 2 seconds in our house.

bren: Cool! I'd love to see those guava bars, those sound really good!

Cindy: I hope you try these! If you do, let me know if they taste how you remember them; I just loved them. I did skip the coconut bc me and hubby don't like it, but other than that, I didn't alter anything. :)

Chocolate shavings: Comin' UP!

Hillary: Wow! We're on the same wave length. I love Amsterdam to no end...and am now just in lust w/ South America. I DO hope to get there in the next 2 years.

CC: Yep...where do you think the rest of that DDL ended up? Yep.

RLL: You've been there!! Wow. So envious. We're dying to go.

Grace: Uh huh, I think you'd have to hoard these, seriously.

Flutter: I am so up for this challenge...it may take a while...but I've got to take this on. :)

Meagan said...

Great pictures, these cookies are so adorable! I love Italy, but I too would love to go to SA, especially with the price of travel now.

Sinclair said...

i have also wnated to go to Machu Pichu for so long, but will have to wait a while; someday. in the meantime, i can easily make these darling cookies and hoard them!

Laura @ Hungry and Frozen said...

Those cookies look absolutely lush. I'm such a fiend for anything caramel and your photos are gorgeous as usual :) I hear ya about the wanderlust, I've got a bad case of it...but hey, if my one-legged, gout-riddled landlord can make it to Macchu Pichu (honestly!) then you surely can too :D

miri said...

Dear Ann, I'm so glad you made them and liked them! They look gorgeous and ever so tempting! And yes, the melt-in-your-mouth texture really does it for me too.

nicisme said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
nicisme said...

Sorry Ann, having a brain freeze today, will blame those cookies!
Meant to say: If only you could see me now Ann, I'm dribbling all over the keyboard at these delicious looking alfajores. I don't blame you for not sharing, me neither!

Adam said...

Well now I feel retarded... you totally had me going on the Manchu Picchu thing... and then you said psych. Haha good one.

My favorite places to travel? I like going anywhere, currently I'm saving money to go job and interview traveling. Does that count? I mean I'm in a new place, right?

Don't travel to NY now though, we had not sticking to the ground snow last night. Talk about your bummers.

Beautiful cookies by the way, and I hope you can save your money for your trip. Europe sounds awesome.

RazorFamilyFarms.com said...

Okay... European travel, incredibly fattening (but delightfully so) cookies, and Machu Picchu in one post? I have apparently died on gone to a torturous and orgasmic heaven.

I read a comment above where there is a slight dusting of coconut on those sweet darlings and I about melted out of my comfy Dr. Claw chair (Inspector Gadget's nemesis). Wowsers!

Love to you and many, many thanks for your encouraging words throughout this adoption process. Gosh, I wish we could just fast forward to the day that I can say -- "we have kids!" But... I am not a characted in Harry Potter, dang it all to heck.

In friendship,
Lacy

dharmamama said...

Ooh, yummy. These might go in my Christmas baking gifts. If I can make a hundred or so, so I actually have some left to give!

I like to leave the can sealed when I make dulce de leche - I live on the edge that way. As long as the can stays covered in water, and you let the can cool before you open it, it's safe. Or - it has been so far!!

I'm more worried about *me* exploding after making it, than I am about the can exploding, as I make it.

morton said...

it doesn't count if i was absent from blogging until today. i'm still the shit.

those cookies make me want to be touched by them in my naughty places.

Nicole said...

Mmmm. Those cookies would be yummy with raspberry jam in the middle!

I just got back from a study abroad in Australia (which was cool), but we took a side trip to New Zealand while we were there... Just saying, it's the absolute, hands-down, best place I've ever been. I will move there someday... Now you've got me travel-lusting.

P.S. I love reading your blog. Thanks for all the great recipes and amusing thoughts!

kristy said...

Awwww I have been seeing recipes for these everywhere and still haven't made them. But I do feel good, cos I have apparently been making dulce de leche since I was a kid, but to me it was always boiled can of condensed milk. Now I feel soooo much more sophisticated!

(oh and i just found your blog, and i just might think you are the most hilarious person in the world yes i might. and normally i don't really read people's posts, just give a quick skim and see ya later. but there was no stopping me with you. no sir! i have now used approximately two hours or work time giggling. brilliant!)

kristy said...

oh yeah and i have never pierced the condensed milk can either. so far so good :)

Brittany said...

After reading the first paragraph, I hated you. I thought you were another one of these wordly assholes that I am jealous of.

2nd paragraph had me loving you again.

Cookies have me drooling everywhere.

Slyde said...

oooh, i'm with you! i would LOVE to do amsterdam one of these days....

probably a pipe dream tho..

Lisa said...

mmm, mmm, mmm, - so much butter and sugar, so little time!

dharmamama said...

I just remembered - a friend of mine used to call dulce de leche made this way (unopened can of sweetened condensed milk) danger pudding! He's actually the one who told me about it; his family used to make it every year at Hanukkah. Danger pudding! Ha.

Dawn said...

LOLOLOL! Pseudo travels! Yes, I've been there, many times! Girl you are too funny.
And I love the pictures too, you take such 'food-porn worthy' shots indeed.
Before I die I must go to Bali, Fiji Islands, Bells Beach, and go back to North Shore Hawaii bro.

totallyrandom said...

COME HERE! MY COUNTRY IS CHEAP!! LOL

Ugh.. reading your blog makes me wanna go out and buy an oven. As if I have time to bake these days.

I want to go Italy. Russia. Spain. The Louvre. Sicily. To name but a few ;)

Leslie said...

Machu Picchu....my sister in law hiked it over the summer..and all the shitting and puking she did..she doesnt recommend it to anyone!!
Love the cookies!

diva said...

i can list all the places i want to visit in the future, but to be honest, i'm in no hurry just yet because knowing myself, by hook or by crook, i'll find a way to get some cash together to make it on a holiday to those places. However, one place i definitely will kill to visit asap is Egypt. something abt it seduces me and i'm so certain that a trip to egypt will utterly inspire me!
by the way, those cookies are immense...through my laptop, i've already munched on about 20 of em! :D x

John said...

I'd like 1,000 please.

*YUM*

RazorFamilyFarms.com said...

OMG! I posted!

Don't faint!

Blessings,
Lacy

Mallory Elise said...

ah so cute! south american macarons! i saw your photo at taste spotting---where do i want to travel? i juut lived in France for a year, and poked around western europe a bit, but where i want to go now--brazil :)

Katie Barlow said...

mmm....i love dulce de leche! Great blog! Come check out my holiday cookie list and giveaway at

http://katiebarlow.blogspot.com/2008/12/my-christmas-cookie-list-and-giveaway.html

Sugar said...

Dulce de leche... mmmmmmm.... my absolute favorite thing in the whole world of sweetnes...

Shhh... don't tell chocolate... she might get bitter.

We Are Never Full said...

how weird... i was sitting here with a strong desire to travel and then i read this post and i'm even more depressed. i'm glad it's not just me. i guess these cookies would cheer me up.

Justine said...

Bookmarking this!!! My mother would bring back these treats for my father when she went to Uruguay to visit her family. This would be a great gift for them both!!

Cherie said...

Ok. I made alfajores yesterday. Really BAD recipe.I almost gave up on ever making them again.But I will definitely give these a try in the morning. They look delicious!

Anonymous said...

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OrGreenic said...

These cookies sound heavenly. Thank you for sharing such a delectable recipe.