This delicious Argentinian biscuit is pretty much a small dulce de leche sandwich, which you won't be able to resist!
Dulce de leche
- 3 L (105 fl oz/12 cups) milk
- 750 g (1 lb 10 oz) caster (superfine) sugar
- 1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
- 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
- 300 g (10½ oz/2 cups) plain (all-purpose) flour
- seeds from 1 vanilla bean
- 1 pinch of fine sea salt
- 220 ml (7½ fl oz) thin (pouring) cream (35% dairy fat)
- 1 tbsp cognac
- 200 g (7 oz) dulce de leche (see Note)
- icing (confectioners') sugar, for dusting
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
If you are making your own dulce de leche, you will require 2-3 hours cooking time.
Resting time 1 hour
To make the dulce de leche, bring the milk to the boil with the sugar, vanilla in 5 litre (175 fl oz/20 cups) cast-iron casserole or saucepan. Stir to dissolve the sugar. Add the bicarbonate of soda and reduce heat to low. Continue cooking for 2½–3 hours, stirring with a wooden spoon from time to time (see Note). It will darken and thicken. Once cooled, store in an airtight jar in the refrigerator for up to 10 days.
To make the dough, combine the flour, vanilla seeds, sea salt, cream and cognac in a bowl and work together until you have a smooth ball of dough. Add a little extra flour or cream if necessary. Wrap the ball of dough in plastic wrap and rest it in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F/Gas 4). Sprinkle a little flour on the work surface. Roll out the dough to a thickness of 3 mm. Cut out 40 circles with a 4 cm (1½ inch) cutter.
Arrange the rounds of dough on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Bake for 12–15 minutes, or until golden. Allow to cool at room temperature on the tray.
Spread half the cooled biscuits with the dulce de leche using a piping (icing) bag or a spoon. Place the remaining biscuits on top. Press together firmly: the dulce de leche should bulge out the sides a little. Dust each alfajor with icing sugar.
• Dulce de leche is a Spanish caramel that is prepared by heating sweetened milk. It is available from delis and specialist food shops. Substitute tinned caramel from supermarkets.
• To check whether the dulce de leche is ready, put a spoonful on a cold plate and tilt it. If the mixture holds its shape, remove it from the heat; if it runs a little, cook until it reaches this stage.
Recipe and image from Argentinian Street Food, Enrique Zanoni & Gaston Stivelmaher (Murdoch Books, $29.99, hbk)