Sweet, liquid gold you could eat with a spoon. The second it touches your lips you close your eyes as you drift away to heaven. That’s how I would describe dulce de leche should anyone ask. Oh boy is it good. It was probably my most favourite thing about Argentina and to them it’s treated quite like a national treasure. You’ve probably picked up on the fact that when I travel, my first interest is the food. It was lucky our tour guide in Buenos Aires liked her food because I quizzed her for at least half an hour about the local cuisine.
By far the most popular sweet treat in Argentina is the alfajore, pronounced al-fa-hor-rey. These simple shortbread sandwich biscuits are transformed to a new level of taste heaven with their dulce de leche filling. I don’t know what it is about combining two simple things together but it’s quite a match let me tell you. Of course I had to bring some authentic dulce de leche back with me (along with my 12 yoghurt jars!) and as soon as I was home it was straight to Google to learn how to make alfajores.
I struck gold with the first recipe I found. The biscuits were perfect. Just the right amount of crumble but strong enough to hold the filling well and the taste… well you’ll just have to try them for yourself and see!
I recommend making these over two days. Make the dough one day and the next day, bake it and assemble the biscuits.
You know the drill… start by beating the butter and sugar together until smooth.
Add the egg yolk, egg and vanilla to the bowl and mix them through. If you’re using brandy you can add it this stage too. None for me. Well for one I didn’t have any but I was making them for my pregnant friend so better to leave it out (that’s my excuse).
I guess this step is to make sure all the raising agents are mixed in well and aerate the flour a bit. I did as I was told and whisked them all together.
There’s no need to switch to the dough hook here, just pour in the flour using about a 1/3 of it at a time and mix it all in until it’s a nice even dough ball.
Divide the dough in half and then shape each half into a disk.
Wrap it up with plastic wrap then into the fridge for at least 2 hours. I made the dough the day before and left it in the fridge over night.
When it’s biscuit making time pre-heat the oven to 160C fan-forced and line 2 baking trays with baking paper. You might need to bake it in two lots as the recipe makes quite a few alfajores.
Flour your bench top and tip out one disc of dough.
Roll it out until it’s about 1/2 a centimeter thick then use a 3cm round cookie cutter to cut out lots of circles.
Place them on the baking tray leaving about 1cm between each one. They don’t really spread out so there’s no need to leave more room that that.
Pop them in the oven for about 10 minutes or until they start to turn golden around the edges.
I don’t know why but whenever I bake cookies the right side of the tray always seems to brown first. I guess there’s something very uneven about my oven’s heat distribution.
When they’re ready, leave them on the tray to set for 10 minutes.
Then it’s on to a wire rack to cool completely.
Turn half of the biscuits upside down. They will form the bases of the sandwiches.
If you can’t find dulce de leche in the shops, the Cafe Sucre Farine has a very good-looking easy recipe. I’m going to try it soon.
Spoon about 1/2 a teaspoon of dulce de leche on top of each upside down biscuit and spread it out leaving a little bit of a border then sandwich the lid on top.
Dust them all generously with icing sugar. I love the icing sugar pattern left on the bench. So pretty!
They should last about 3 days stored in an air-tight container but if you have anyone who even remotely possesses a sweet tooth in your house they won’t be around that long. Enjoy!
What about you? Have you tried dulce de leche? How would you describe it?
- 250g (1 cup) butter, room temperature
- 2/3 cup caster (superfine) sugar
- 2 large egg yolks, room temperature
- 1 large egg, room temperature
- 3 tbsp brandy (I left this out)
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 2 cups plain AP flour
- 1 cup corn flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 ¾ cups dulce de leche
- Icing sugar for dusting
- In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the butter and sugar and beat until it is light and creamy.
- Scrape the edges down back into the bowl and then add the egg yolks, egg and vanilla (and the brandy if you're using it) and beat them into the butter and sugar until everything is well mixed in.
- Add the flour, 1/3 at a time and mix until it is all combined.
- Divide the dough into two pieces and shape each one into a disk.
- Wrap them individually in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours (I left mine over night).
- When you're ready to make the biscuits, pre-heat the oven to 160C (320F) fan-forced and line two baking trays with baking paper.
- Flour the bench top and then roll one of the discs of dough out to about 1/2 a centimeter thickness.
- Use a 3cm round cookie cutter to cut circles in the dough and transfer them to the baking tray leaving at least 1cm between each one. They don't spread too much so you don't need to leave too much room.
- Gather all the off cuts together and roll them out and repeat until you've used all the dough then repeat it with the other disc.
- Bake the biscuits until they start to turn golden around the edges. They should take about 10 minutes but keep an eye on them.
- Leave them to rest on the trays for 5-10 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.
- When they are completely cool, turn half the biscuits upside down.
- Top each one that is upside down with 1/2 a teaspoon of dulce de leche.
- Spread it out until it almost reaches the edge of the cookie and then sandwich a plain cookie onto the filling.
- Repeat with the rest of the cookies.
- To finish, dust them with icing sugar.
- Kept in an airtight container, they should stay fresh for 3 days.
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