Dolce de Leche + Alfajores

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Someone introduced this cookie to me and, although I’ve often seen them at restaurants, the recipe seemed far too difficult to mess with. It involved Dolce de Leche and I wasn’t going to just use the store-bought jarred stuff. If I was going to do this, I needed to commit. A solid 4 hours for cooking time and an additional 2 for the cookies.

Let’s think. I just finished my last class of college ever. I have no finals, and as of now no full time job to report to. I’d say today was a perfect day for a 6+ hour baking spree. Not to mention I had a fellow baker in my company so we decided to take the challenge.

Dolce de Leche

– 8 cups whole milk

– 2 1/2 cups sugar

– 1/4 teaspoon baking soda

– 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

– 1/2 teaspoon vanilla or bourbon (Yes, I’m 21)

Heat all the ingredients in a medium saucepan on medium heat. Stir occasionally for the first 1.5 hours but as the milk reduces and darkens you have to stir it more frequently. If the milk doesn’t seem to be hot enough (it should be very slowly bubbling) you can increase the heat for a little bit. Be sure to keep it mostly at medium until the very end. BE PATIENT. This will take a solid 3.5-4 hours.

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Leave the Dolce de Leche in the pot to cool and start on the cookies:

 

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– 1 cup cornstarch

– 3/4 cup all-purpose flour, plus more as needed

– 1 teaspoon baking powder

– 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

– 1/4 teaspoon fine salt

– 8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick), at room temperature

– 1/3 cup granulated sugar

– 2 large egg yolks

– 1 tablespoon brandy

– 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

– 1 cup Dolce de Leche at room temperature

– Powdered sugar for dusting

    1. Place the butter and sugar in the bowl and mix until the mixture is light in color and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg yolks,  brandy, and vanilla and mix until incorporated, about 30 seconds. Now add the dry ingredients. Mix until there are no white pockets of flour.
    2. Turn the dough out onto a piece of plastic wrap, shape it into a smooth disk, and wrap it tightly. Place in the refrigerator until firm, at least 1 hour.

 

  1. Remove the dough from the refrigerator, unwrap it, and place it on a lightly floured work surface. Lightly flour the top of the dough. Roll to 1/4-inch thickness (the dough will crack but can be easily patched back together).
  2. Place the cookies on parchment paper lined baking sheets, 12 per sheet and at least 1/2 inch apart. Bake until the cookies are a very light brown on the bottom edge, about 12 to 14 minutes. (The cookies will remain pale on top.) Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  3. Flip half of the cookies upside down and gently spread about 2 teaspoons of the dolce de leche on each. Place a second cookie on top and gently press to create a sandwich. Dust generously with powdered sugar before serving.
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  4. Press the cookie sandwich just enough for the dolce de leche to start oozing out of the sides (caramel is one of the few times where it is acceptable to use the otherwise disgusting word ‘ooze’)
  5. Roll the sides of the cookies in a shallow bowl of toasted coconut or sprinkles or chocolate shavings. Enjoy!

    Love From Lauren,

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Browned Butter, Walnut and Toffee Blondies

photoThis recipe was adapted from Martha Stewart’s website, but was recommended to me by a fellow baker. There are few things better in the baking world than browned butter. The trick is browning the butter enough, but not too much. If you start with your butter at room temperature it will be a heck of a lot easier, but when you have no choice just melt the butter on medium-low and then turn up your heat to brown it. As soon as the butter turns to a rich dark yellow color, take it off the heat. Starting to get sick of our tiny kitchen…. let’s hope the new apartment is more baker-friendly!

Ingredients:

– 1 1/4 cups (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, plus more for pan

– 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pan

– 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

– 1 1/2 teaspoons salt

– 2 cups packed light-brown sugar

– 1/2 cup granulated sugar

– 3 large eggs

– 2 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

– 1 cup chopped walnuts (about 4 ounces)

-1 cup toffee bits

-Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking pan. Line bottom of pan with parchment paper; butter and flour parchment paper.

2) In a saucepan over medium heat, cook the butter until it turns golden brown; if your butter was still cold, this can take 5+ minutes. You can turn it up to medium-high heat if this is the case.

Butter at 30 seconds:

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Butter at 1:30

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Butter at 6:00 and ready –

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Remove from heat, and let cool. The color of the butter should be inconsistent, with darker bits at the bottom. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.

3) In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine browned butter and both sugars; stir with a wooden spoon until combined.

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4) Attach bowl to mixer; add eggs. Using the paddle attachment, beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.

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5) Add vanilla, and beat to combine. Add flour mixture, walnuts, and toffee bits. Mix until thoroughly combined, and pour into prepared pan.

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6) Bake until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes (do not overbake). Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before turning out of pan onto a cutting board. Peel off parchment paper; cut blondies into 1.5-inch squares

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