Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Let's Bake: Alfajores Edition

One of my favorite memories is when I would go to the library with my mom, head straight for the "new arrivals" and grab a huge stack of books to try and read by the due date. Remember when the daily charge for an overdue library book was a nickel? Now it's like a $1 and it's insane.

What do overdue library books have to do with baking? Well, basically, what I'm trying to say is that....this post is long overdue.

There are a lot of different Peruvian recipes that I lust after and I constantly convince myself that one day I will be able to recreate them and not have to travel down the South American coast to curb my cravings. Well, finally, around Valentine's day (I told you this was WAY overdue!) I decided to take a stab at making alfajores. I was extra inspired when my roommate's mom took the time to surprise us with fresh dulce de leche and shortbread cookies when we went down to Nashville for a quick visit.

If you remember, the first step was preparing the dulce de leche. I took the "easy" way out and boiled three cans of condensed milk for about 3 hours. Constantly checking that the water level never went below the height of the can (on its side). I made 3 cans, because it's always good to just get a few out of the way so you don't have to waste time/gas next time around. Anyway, the condensed milk goes in all gooey, sweet, and creamy and comes out golden brown and ready to be spread on cookies, cakes, etc.

Condensed milk + boiling for 3 hours = Delicious Dulce de Leche 

Normally, when I take on a task like this I give my nanny a call and ask for her advice. Along with her positive reinforcement she usually likes to slip in an easy-to-use option just in case I'm feeling overwhelmed by the prospect of failure. She told me that I could use any recipe I found online or Pillsbury Ready-To-Use Pie Crusts.

When in doubt, use an empty wine bottle as a rolling pin!

I ended up trying both options. I had to give these out as V-day gifts, so I needed a back-up plan just in case my cookie dough did not come out as desired. I used this recipe from www.piscotrail.com:

1 1/4 cup corn starch
3/4 cup flour
4 oz butter at room temperature
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon lemon zest
2 egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Unfortunately, I do not have pictures of the dough. But it was crumbly and not user very friendly. At first I tried flattening the dough with the "rolling pin". Wasn't happening. Then I tried to roll balls of dough, but when I baked them they did not flatten and were too dense. So, I ended up having to push the rest of the dough together into a make-shift log and cutting slivers and praying that they didn't crumble before hitting the cookie sheet.

Once the cookies are baked, the rest is easy. Spread dulce de leche in between two cookies - like a sandwich. Sprinkle powdered sugar on top (with a sifter). And voila!

These are the thicker cookies
Round Two: Thinner cookies
I didn't end up using the pie crust cookies, even though they were cute and heart-shaped. The dulce de leche is so sweet that it has to be paired with a cookie that has barely any sugar in it or else you'll be on a major sugar overload!

I got these cute heart-shaped cookie cutters from Party City!
It's all about presentation, right? :)
Even though there were a few bumps along the way, I was happy that I got over my fear and just tried my best. They may have been a little weird looking, but everyone loved them and that's the most important part!


  1. Marie! I am so proud of you! These look amazing!

  2. Gurrlll! I can taste those in my mouth right now and I am totally going to copy you!

  3. Thanks to all the Sawyer lady love!! If I have your approval then I am doing SOMETHING right :)

  4. Homemade I don't think so - it looks like its been brought at a bakery instead. lol