I think everyone might have fallen in love with Chile this week. And rightly so. I too was one of the countless people who was glued to the news, unashamedly crying at the scenes of jubilation at the rescue of the Chilean miners. And by crying, I mean bawling my eyes out, and pathetically sniffling about how beautiful it was to see these men embracing their families. All I can say is well done Chile on being awesome. Also, hasn’t it been brilliant to have the news headlines dominated by a joyful story all about the best of humanity…how refreshing.
S. suggested that I baked something Chilean is celebration. Possibly as comfort food to aid with the tear-jerking news marathon. I concurred, but soon realised that I know nothing about what might even constitute Chilean baking. Google to the rescue….with the information that alfajores are a sweet, caramel filled cookie consumed across South America. I then came across Liz Caskey’s lovely Eat Wine blog, with an honest, informative article about Chilean Cuisine, and Faith, Hope and Chilean Pride, a post all about the beautiful resiliency of Chilie. As well as a tasty looking alfajores recipe.
The recipe did not disappoint…these will not be relegated to once-in-a-blue-moon-of-happy-news-cycles kind of baking. With one bite, I decided that I will be making these possibly once a week for the rest of my life. The cookie is buttery, light and not-too-sweet, blending perfectly with the caramel filling. And the rolled coconut edging is just right. Some variants include dipping the whole thing in chocolate, but I actually think that they are the right balance of flavours as is, and chocolate might just complicate things, making it too sickly sweet.
There is a bit of preparation involved in making these. Firstly, making the dulce de leche filling– although that can be bought in the shops. The second is resting the dough for at least five hours in the fridge – I left it in there over night, and I really did think that this time for the dough to firm up made a big difference as it means that the cookies are light but firm. And then there’s putting them together – but that bit is just messy and fun.
Also, I don’t actually own any cookie cutters, so I had great fun trying to search around the kitchen for something that would cut out the 2 inch circles of cookie dough. Prizes (of alfajores!) to anyone who can guess what I eventually used…..
All in all, Chile you are wonderful! You warm our hearts, and give us great cookies. Thank you.
Recipe after the jump…
Recipe from here.
I made 17 cookies from this recipe, with a decent amount of leftover dulce de leche.
For the cookies:
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 whole egg
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon baking powder
125g plain flour
For the filling:
Tin condensed milk (or shop bought caramel)
For dulce de leche:
I prefer to go for the safer, bain marie oven based method, rather than the exploding-can-caramel-covered-kitchen version.
1) Empty the condensed milk into a dish, and cover well with tin foil, and place into a larger dish.
2) Fill the larger dish with water, to half way up the condesed-milk-dish.
3) Place in the oven for around an hour and a half at a medium heat.
4) It is ready when it has turned light brown and has thickened, but is still a little runny, as it will thicken more as it cools. Whisk well to remove all lumps and let cool.
For the cookies:
1) Preheat oven to 180C, 350F or 160 fan.
2) Beat butter and sugar together until fluffy and creamy.
3) Beat in vanilla, egg, egg yolk until well incorporated.
4) Add in flour, baking powder and cornstarch in batches, mixing gently until the dough comes together. The dough should be soft and elastic rather than sticky, so gradually add more flour to achieve the desired consistency. I only read this bit after making the dough, so the dough was a little sticky, but they were still good and held their shape.
5) Wrap the dough in cling film and put into the fridge for at least 5 hours. It is easiest to do this by unwrapping the cling-film over a bowl, spooning in the dough, and then covering well.
6) Once chilled, unwrap and roll out the dough to a ¼ inch thickness (mine were a bit thicker) and cut out into 2 inch rounds.
7) Bake until golden, approx 10 minutes.
8) Let cool.
To make up the alfajores:
1) Spread caramel onto the flatter side of a cookie.
2) Press onto another cookie. Press down lightly so that the caramel oozes out the sides a little.
3) Roll in coconut.