Monday, October 10, 2011

Homemade Argentinian Alfajores

Please welcome back my friend, guest blogger, world traveler, macaron-making partner in crime and soon-to-be American expat in Buenos Aires, Tanya Brothen, as she brings us one of the delicacies of her adopted new country! 

Red wine and red meat. These are two of the things that come to mind when I think about Argentina, and according to my highly scientific Wikipedia research, they are exactly what I can expect to find when I move there at the end of the year.

But in addition to the clichés steak and vino, I’ve been delighted to discover lots of other (non-red) edible and drinkable Argentine specialties. There’s the communal experience of mate tea, the creamy gelato brought to the Argentina by way of Italian immigration, and dulche de leche-filled cookies known as alfajores. Unable to resist the lure of dulche de leche, and wanting to see if alfajores will be to me in Buenos Aires what pain au chocolat is to me in Paris (less of an indulgence and more of a main food group), I decided to try my hand at baking alfajores.

The experiment began with making dulche de leche. And really, I could have just stopped there. Homemade dulche de leche pairs well with any number of other items you have in your kitchen. Vanilla ice cream, crêpes, brownies ,or simply a spoon. Better yet, it’s incredibly easy to make; all you need is a can of condensed milk. Pour the milk into a small pan, cover it tightly with tinfoil, place the small pan inside a larger pan, fill the larger pan halfway with boiling water, and stick the whole thing in the oven at 425 Fahrenheit for roughly an hour, maybe a little bit more depending on your oven, remove, beat until smooth, chill in the fridge. It should come out thick, caramel-colored, and delicious.

For the cookies I used a recipe from, but I found many options online, each with slight variations, such as this one and this one. I had to start the recipe over after mixing the sugar with the flour when I should have mixed it with the butter, but other than that there weren’t any major hiccups in the process.

Unfortunately, when it came time to fill the cookies with the dulche de leche and roll them in coconut…well…let’s just say it took many tries and highly rushed camera work to get photos of the alfajores looking normal. For some reason the cookies would not stay filled. They looked good at first, and then slowly all of the dulche de leche would seep out. Hmm. Did I not let the filling thicken enough in the oven? Possibly, but at least they were delicious, albeit un-servable to anyone other than myself. And I was sort of ok with that.

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