I finally got around to doing a Peruvian inspired dessert (based on a true story of the time I went to Peru). Well, it's not so much inspired by...it's just straight Peruvian. As you well know, I eat almost exclusively desserts, and while I wasn't loving the savory Peruvian options, I devoured their sweets. So today I made alfajores...or shall we say Alfa-squirrel-es????
Alfajores are dulce de leche sandwiched between two shortbread cookies, and sprinkled with powdered sugar. In my vaaaasssttt experience with alfajores, I felt that the double shortbread was just too much cookie and you were kind of missing the dulce. So I unsandwiched mine — or rather, I never sandwiched them at all. I used my very easy and very delicious go-to shortbread recipe. Seriously you can't miss with this one. They're buttery, and soft and crunchy.
While the shortbread was easy, the dulce de leche was quite the new experience for me (such an emotional roller coaster). First of all did you know that it's just made from sweetened condensed milk? Dulce...sweet...leche....milk. Who knew?
The construction is pretty easy here. Just slather some dulce onto your cookie and then sift some powdered sugar over the top. I was pretty generous with my dulce because, hey, what am I gonna do with it afterwards? Sit in bed pantsless and eat it? Let's not leave that as a valid option.
I love working with shortbread dough because a) it's delicious and b) it requires you to throw flour all over the counter. This always reminds me of my grandma and the cookies she used to make. She used flour so much in her everyday life that she had an entire kitchen drawer full of it. And no, I don't mean she had a drawer full of bags of flour. I mean she poured flour straight into a drawer so she would always have easy access to it.
Easy Shortbread cookies:
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Cream butter and powdered sugar using a mixer until fluffy and light in color. Mix in the vanilla.
2. Reduce the speed to low and mix in the flour until just incorporated.
3. Form the dough into a nice ball cover it in plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.
4. Preheat your oven to 350 F.
5. Lightly flour your surface and roll out the dough. Use a cookie cutter to create your desired shapes.
6. Bake the cookies for 10 to 14 minutes, or until the edges are lightly browned.
7. Let the cookies cool completely and then "frost" with your dulce de leche. I used this really awesome recipe. All you need is 1 can of sweetened condensed milk.
8. Use a sifter to sprinkle with powdered sugar. But if you don't own a sifter (like me) you can use a strainer. It's a bit messier but it gets the job done.