dulce de leche

Alfajores de Maicena

 

Alfajores are so many things to me that really I need a whole other post to bang on about it. Maybe one day I’ll find the words and write it, but for now all you need to know is that these innocent looking biscuits are, well, not so innocent. They’re close to my heart. We have history. It’s a long story.

They’re made with love and all cliches aside, I swear it’s the ultimate secret ingredient.

Note: this recipe makes Argentinean (speficially, Mendozan) alfajores. Other provinces of Argentina have slightly different variations, as do Chile and Peru. They’re all delicious.

alfajores

Make a meal of it:

200g butter, softened
200g plain flour
300g corn flour (this is the ‘maicena’ part)
1/2 tsp bicarb
2 tsp baking powder
150g caster sugar
3 yolks
1 glug cognac, or whatever’s handy. Rum works fine.
1-2 tsp vanilla essence
2 tsp lemon rind, grated
Dash of milk
Dulce de leche and shreded coconut, for filling.

  • Combine the wet ingredients, including butter, and add to the dry.
  • Mix and knead everything into a firm dough – usually I have to add a dash or two of milk to get the right consistency – but be careful because too sticky and they’ll be impossible to roll.
  • Refrigerate the slab of biscuit dough for 15 minutes or so, then take handfuls and flatten with a rolling pin until about 3mm thick.
  • Cut into circles using a wine or champagne class.
  • Bake till cooked, but not quite golden-brown. Alfajores have a very unique texture (which is what makes them lovely) and if you make them too crisp then they’ll just break when you try to sandwich them together. Don’t panic if they seem a little soft still, after they cool down they tend to crisp up more than you’d expect. I never understood chemistry but the melt-in-your-mouth thing must not be messed with!
  • Once cool, sandwich them oreo-style with dulce de leche and roll in shredded coconut.
  • Like most biscuits, they’re best when left in a tin overnight first.

alfajoresmaicena

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Dulce de Leche

Dulce de leche.

Doce de leite.

Spanish Caramel.

…Milk Jam, anyone?

dulcedeleche

So, Argentina made the World Cup final and I made dulce de leche to celebrate. As if you even need an excuse for something as brilliant as dulce de leche but hell, the restaurant’s opening at 3am for the game and I’ma need something to jolt my sleepy brain into bilingual bartender mode. For the uninitiated, it’s like caramel but so. much. better. Dulce de leche on a banana is the ultimate combination, but you can use it for topping on just about anything, as a cake filler, or for alfajores. I know I’ll be spooning the leftovers into my porridge, too. Just don’t tell anyone.

This is a very basic recipe and it won’t yield dulce de leche quite as good as the stuff in Argentina but it’s close enough, really. I make it in a batch and what I don’t use in alfajores gets given to friends or kept in a jar in the fridge. For reasons.

Make a meal of it:

3 cans condensed milk (okay, who are we kidding? Two and a half cans.)
2 pinches salt flakes
1 tsp vanilla essence

Bain-marie that bad boy, taking it out to whisk every 20 minutes or so until it turns roughly the colour in the picture. I use a pyrex dish inside a deepish baking tray with some foil over the top. Obviously, longer baking = thicker dulce de leche.  It’ll come out gluggy and lumpy and strange, but just keep whisking and you’ll end up with smooth, sweet deliciousness. I know it all sounds very vague, but you just have to trust this one. It really is that simple.