the baker upstairs: dulce de leche and alfajores

8.10.2012

dulce de leche and alfajores

Yum


I've been thinking about making homemade dulce de leche for months now, and I finally got around to it. It seriously couldn't be easier! It feels like magic to wake up to several jars of dulce de leche in the crockpot, after going to bed when it was just sweetened condensed milk. I followed the instructions except that I accidentally slept in, and my dulce de leche got quite a bit darker than I had anticipated. It was still incredibly tasty, though... I don't think the color matters all that much.
Dulce de Leche
Buns in My Oven

2-14 ounce cans sweetened condensed milk
3 1/2 pint canning jars
water

Empty the two cans of condensed milk into the canning jars and securely tighten the lids. Place in an empty slow cooker and cover with water. The water should rise at least 1 inch above the jars. Place the lid on the slow cooker and turn to low heat for 10 hours (the longer you cook it, the darker it will get, so cook it to your preference). Remove from the water and allow to cool to room temperature. Store in the refrigerator for 3-4 weeks.
With dulce de leche in hand, I wanted to make something I saw in a cooking show a million years ago when we were just little newlyweds... alfajores!



Apparently they're pretty ubiquitous in Central and South America, but I've never actually had one. I think the ones I made most closely resemble Peruvian alfajores, except that I didn't dust them with powdered sugar. In any case, they were quite tasty!
Alfajores
Tracey's Culinary Adventures

4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
1/2 cup water
sanding sugar
dulce de leche

 Sift the flour and confectioners' sugar onto a sheet of wax paper. Transfer to the bowl of your food processor along with the butter, and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal, about 20 seconds. With the machine running, add the water through the feed tube in a slow, steady stream, and continue processing just until the dough comes together, about 20 seconds. Transfer the dough to a work surface and divide in half. Shape each half into a thin disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for an hour.

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line two baking sheets with parchment. Unwrap one disk of dough and place it on a floured work surface. Roll the dough to a thickness of 1/4 to 1/8-inch. Use a 1 3/4-inch cookie cutter to cut as many rounds as you can from the dough then transfer them to the prepared baking sheet (they won't spread, you can put them fairly close together). Set aside the scraps. Repeat with the second disk of dough. Combine the scraps from both disks to reroll and cut additional cookies. Sprinkle half of the cookies with sanding sugar. Bake for 15 minutes, or until pale golden brown (rotating the baking sheets halfway through the baking time). Transfer the baking sheets to wire racks and let the cookies cool for a few minutes before removing them to the racks to cool completely.

Match the cookies in pairs by size, combining one sugared cookie and one unsugared. Place about 1 teaspoon of dulce de leche on the unsugared cookie, then put the sugared cookie on top, pressing gently to sandwich and squeeze the filling to the edges. Repeat to finish all of the sandwiches. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Makes about 3 dozen sandwich cookies


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