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?
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!