Friday, May 2, 2014

Anna Sultana’s Alfajores (Sandwich cookies for Cinco de Mayo)


Winnipeg is proud of our summer festival Folklorama as a way for us to get to learn about our neighbours who are from other countries.
Well, in Queens, New York in the 1950s, we kids had our own way to learn about the foods that other people ate.
All we had to do was open our lunch boxes together.

We’d nudge each other and say, “What’s that?”
We’d swap, and, more often than not, decided we liked eating something new.
We’d ask our Moms to ask our friends’ Moms for the recipe.
Our Moms were better than the internet for sharing recipes.

Cinco de Mayo, a Mexican holiday, is on May 5.
It’s time to enjoy some Alfajores.
Alfajores are Spanish sandwich cookies, similar to Maltese Figolli.
Instead of the almond filling they have a dulche de leche filling.
That’s a caramel custard.
Then the cookies are rolled in coconut.

Hints:

The dough can be chilled in the fridge for up to 3 days. 
Remove the dough about an hour before baking.

If the dough cracks while rolling it out, let it warm up slightly.
If while you’re cutting out the circles, the dough gets too soft, re-wrap and chill it for about 15 minutes. 

Dulche de leche will take at least an hour to get thick enough to spread. 
In a rush?
Sweetened condensed milk can be used in place of the milk and sugar in the homemade dulce de leche.
Cook, stirring constantly, until it’s a nice brown colour.


                              Alfajores  

Yield: 14-16 sandwich cookies

Shortbread Cookies

In a large mixer bowl beat until combined
1 Cup butter, softened
1 Cup icing sugar
Stir in
2 Cups flour
The dough will be stiff, so you may have to knead in the last of the flour.
Turn the dough out onto a piece of plastic wrap.
Pat into a disk about 1/2 inch thick. 
Wrap and chill about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350°F  
Grease two baking sheets 

Unwrap the dough and place on a lightly floured surface. 
With a lightly floured rolling pin, roll dough about 1/8 inch thick.
Cut out cookies using a round cutter.
Re-roll scraps and cut out again. 
Place cookies 1 inch apart on prepared baking sheets.
Bake about 12 – 15 minutes. 
Transfer to wire racks to cool completely.


Dulce de Leche

Have on hand
1 Cup sugar

Place a large pot over medium high heat and let it heat up.
Sprinkle in a little sugar.
When it starts to melt, sprinkle in a little more. 
Use a wooden spoon to stir the sugar into the caramel.
Continue sprinkling in sugar a bit at a time, letting each addition melt. 
Start to add more at a time until all the sugar has been added. 
When the sugar has melted entirely, lower the heat.
Stirring constantly, gradually add 
1 Cup milk
Stir until the caramel melts. 
When it begins to thicken, stirring constantly, gradually add  
1 Cup milk
Stir until the caramel is smooth.
Stirring constantly, gradually add 
1 Cup milk
Stir until the caramel is smooth.

In a large bowl, whisk together 
2 Tablespoons sugar 
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
Stirring constantly, add 1/4 Cup of the caramel mixture to it.
Combine well.
Stirring, gradually add the remaining caramel mixture.

Return the mixture to the pot and cook over low heat, stirring frequently, until the mixture thickens.
This will take about 20 – 30 minutes; keep an eye on it - it can burn easily.
Once cooked, pour it into a bowl.
Allow it to cool completely before filling your cookies. 
Store any leftovers in a sealed container in the fridge for up to a week.


Form Sandwiches
Place between two cookies
about 1 teaspoon of dulce de leche 
Gently squeeze them together. 
Roll in
1/4 Cup shredded unsweetened coconut (optional)

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