You know how, once you learn a new word or buy a new car, you’re suddenly seeing incarnations of them everywhere you turn?
Back in November, Gemma Petrie over at Pro Bono Baker posted a recipe for alfajores and I knew I had to make them. She has been a long-time blog crush of mine, with her spare aesthetic and sophisticated taste, and I have yet to try a recipe of hers that didn’t become a favorite.
During a trip to Argentina, Gemma and her boyfriend Nick fell for these soft, dulce-de-leche filled cookies and, lucky for us, Nick set about creating his own recipe for them when they returned.
Of course, once I made a batch of alfajores, they began to appear in every corner. At my nine-course-birthday-dessert-tasting. At our first holiday party of the season. In my dreams the night after the first batch had all been eaten. These gentle cookies are perfect with tea or for an after-dinner alternative to a heavy dessert. If you still have room in your holiday baking agenda, I urge you to give these a whirl, or at least bookmark them for the future.
Regarding the dulce de leche required for this recipe, I point you to another blog crush of mine, Ashley Rodriguez of Not Without Salt. Her luscious photography is a match only for the creamy milk caramel that results from her almost stupidly simple method of making dulce de leche: simmer a can of sweetened condensed milk in a large pot for three hours. No, seriously. It’s like magic. Tasty, tasty magic.
I’m copying the recipe exactly as it originally appeared, but there are subtle variations you can make with these cookies . Size, for example—the first batch I made were much larger than the ones pictured here, as I cut the rounds using a water glass. I also sprinkled sea salt on the caramel layer before sandwiching the cookie pieces together. For the second batch (pictured here), I employed a small biscuit cutter and dipped the cookies in powdered sugar before sandwiching and omitted the sea salt.
This week I’ll make a third batch for my in-laws, who are headed into town to share Christmas with us. Jill’s father always has a hankering for something sweet, and I think he’ll like the way that these pillowy cookies go with his coffee. Here’s hoping you all have houses full of loved ones, good eats, & joy this week.
Recipe from Gemma Petrie of Pro Bono Baker, posted with permission
1 ¾ cup flour
½ cup sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
1/8 tsp. salt
8 T butter, room temperature
4 egg yolks, lightly beaten
1 T milk
1 tsp. vanilla
15 oz. dulce de leche*
Combine flour, salt, sugar and baking soda in a bowl. Mix in the butter and then work in the egg yolks, milk and vanilla. Shape the dough into two separate balls, wrap in plastic wrap and chill for about two hours.
Preheat oven to 325˚. Roll out each ball of dough on a slightly floured surface to 1/4 inch thick. Cut using a two-inch cookie cutter and transfer cookies to baking sheets covered with silpat mats. Bake for about 15 minutes, until the tops of the cookies appear dry, but not so long that the cookies brown.
Allow the cookies to cool on a wire rack. When cool, spread half the cookies with dulce de leche and top with the other half. Serve with a café con leche for an irresistible treat. A traditional way to serve the cookies is to roll the sides in shredded coconut. We’re not big coconut fans, so we left ours plain.
*We used dulce de leche that we brought back from Argentina. Feel free to use store bought or make your own. There are plenty of traditional recipes out there, but I was extremely intrigued to find this recipe from the lovely blog Not Without Salt that calls for simply cooking a can of condensed milk in boiling water. Brilliant.