Welcome to the first Lunes Latinos of 2013. If you have been following this blog you probably know that Lunes Latinos is a food series where I post each Monday a recipe I grew up eating in my dear Dominican Republic (like this, this one and this other one) plus links to other blogs with a very similar Latin recipe. The goal of Lunes Latinos has been to showcase the beautiful things our Latin food have in common and how the barriers between our countries are just geographical but our food and our hearts beat to the same sabor.
Moving forward we will do things a bit different over on Lunes Latinos. I will still post every Monday but instead of cooking only dishes that I am familiar with and that I grew up eating, I will be now cooking recipes from other countries. The reason for doing this is because an ongoing new years resolution for me is to constantly grow and learn and what better way to expand my knowledge of Latin American cooking than trying out new recipes myself.
Today we are going south as I bring you Alfajores.
This delicate cookie is most popular in countries like Argentina, Peru, Chile, Uruguay and Paraguay. It is a recipe brought to Latin America by the Spaniards. The basic alfajor consists of two round cookies with a dulce de leche filling but there are many variations. A popular choice being to cover the sandwich cookie with powdered sugar and roll the sides in shredded coconut.
If stating that this cookie is filled with dulce de leche was not enough to entice you, let me put it this way: this is a cookie that will have you begging for more, if accompanied by others you will not be embarrassed to eat all the alfajores at the party. There is no holding back when these cookies are around. They are soft, crumbly, and again, they have a luscious dulce de leche center. Need I say more?
As I try to bring you new and exciting ideas, I decided to create my own variation so I covered the edges of my alfajores with chopped pistachios.
To make them, we start with a roll-out cornstarch dough.
Cut out circles as big as you want, but traditionally these are small cookies, about 2.5 inches in diameter is a good size.
Bake, allow to cool, and cover with powdered sugar.
This is the time to be generous. Layer a cookie with dulce de leche and top it with another cookie like a sandwich.
The best move I made was to roll these in chopped pistachios, one of my favorite nuts. The pistachios gave the cookie a more nutty, intense flavor, a perfect contrast to the dulce de leche. Enjoy them with pistachios or not but please do yourself a favor and go make these cookies.
Ingredients – yields 35 to 40
2 ½ cups cornstarch
1 cup regular flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup powdered sugar
4 egg yolks
¾ cup milk
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
Dulce de leche or filling of your choice (my favorite is Nestle La lechera)
Sift cornstarch, flour and baking powder.
In a separate bowl, beat butter and sugar until soft and creamy.
Slowly add the egg yolks and keep beating until all is mixed well.
Add the milk incorporating well.
Combine the egg mixture with the dry ingredients and form a ball with your hands. Dough should be flexible and not sticky. Add a tablespoon of milk if is to dry or cover your hands in flour if dough is sticking to your hands.
Cover the dough and let it rest for 20 minutes.
After 20 minutes have passed, roll out the dough in a floured surface until 1/8 inch thick.
Cut circles about 2.5 inches in diameter and repeat the rolling then cutting circles process until you have no more dough left.
Place circles in a greased baking sheet and bake at 350°F for 25 minutes or until edges start getting golden brown.
Transfer to a cooling rack. Once cookies have cooled, generously spread dulce de leche.