Taste the World - Argentina - Alfajores

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*Official name: Argentine Republic *Motto: 'In Unity and Freedom' *Capital: Buenos Aires *Official Languages: Spanish *Government: Federal presidential constitutional republic *Area: 1,084,386 sq mi  *Population: (2015 estimate) 43,417,000 *Currency: Peso (ARS) *Time Zone: ART *Drives on the: right *International code: AR (data from Wikipedia)

I have made Alfajores for Argentina. Two buttery and flaky shortbread like cookies with dulce de leche caramel in between, and dusted with powdered sugar. These things are delicious. I could not stop eating them. The dulce de leche recipe here is the long method, so you may want to make things easier on yourself and find a simpler method, but this recipe is definitely a keeper.

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Alfajores

INGREDIENTS: 

FOR THE COOKIES: 

  • 1 cup cornstarch

  • 3/4 cup all­purpose flour, plus more as needed

  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1/4 teaspoon fine salt

  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick), at room temperature

  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar

  • 2 large egg yolks

  • 1 tablespoon pisco or brandy (water or apple juice work as well)

  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • Powdered sugar, for dusting

FOR THE DULCE DE LECHE:

  • 4 cups milk

  • 1 1/4 cups sugar

  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda

  • 2 teaspoons vanilla

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METHOD:

1. Place the cornstarch, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl and whisk briefly to combine; set aside.

2. Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed until the mixture is light in color and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg yolks, pisco or brandy, and vanilla and mix until incorporated, about 30 seconds. On low speed, gradually add the reserved flour mixture and mix until just incorporated with no visible white pockets, about 30 seconds.

3. Turn the dough out onto a piece of plastic wrap, shape it into a smooth disk, and wrap it tightly. Place in the refrigerator until firm, at least 1 hour.

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4. Start the dulce de leche by mixing milk, sugar and baking soda in  a 4 ­quart heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, until caramelized and thickened, about 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 hours. (After about an hour, stir more often as milk caramelizes, to avoid burning.) Stir in vanilla. Transfer to a bowl to cool. Makes about 1 1/2 cups.

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5. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 350°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

6. Remove the dough from the refrigerator, unwrap it, and place it on a lightly floured work surface. Lightly flour the top of the dough. Roll to 1/4 ­inch thickness (the dough will crack but can be easily patched back together). Stamp out 24 rounds using a plain or fluted 2 ­inch round cutter, rerolling the dough as necessary until all of it is gone.

7. Place the cookies on the prepared baking sheets, 12 per sheet and at least 1/2 inch apart. Bake 1 sheet at a time until the cookies are firm and pale golden on the bottom, about 6 to 12 minutes. (The cookies will remain pale on top.) Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

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8. Flip half of the cookies upside down and gently spread about 2 teaspoons of the dulce de leche on each. Place a second cookie on top and gently press to create a sandwich. Dust generously with powdered sugar before serving.

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