Do you ever think of your present self, and then think of yourself as a little kid? Sometimes, it’s weird to think you were once that little….or a tiny baby that knew absolutely nothing about the world surrounding you. I wish I could interact with my eight year old self, third grade. I always ask my parents what my personality was like at that age. That child was ahead of herself. She was curious. She was sweet. But most of all, she was a little study bug and totally obsessed with school projects. Once I dressed up as Harriet Tubman from the Underground Railroad and gave a whole presentation, as Harriet Tubman. With a southern accent (not attractive for a girl from Miami). And then my teacher made me go to all of the other third grade classrooms and do it again, and again, and again.
Another project that stands out to me was one I did on Peru. My classmate and I dressed up as “authentic” Peruvian people with ponchos and the like, and made a giant poster detailing important aspects of the country. It featured Macchu Picchu (hello, bucket list), it’s geography, it’s people, and possibly the most distinguishing factor of a nation, it’s food. We brought in Inca Kola, which is a typical soda that’s basically Juicy Fruit gum in carbonated liquid form. We brought in a savory meal, and it left my memory. But I remember the dessert.
Alfajores. Music to my ears. Have you had them before? It’s basically a simple butter shortbread-ish type cookie, sandwiched with the spread of divinity, dulce de leche. It’s finished by a heavy dusting of powdered sugar. Since my dad travels a lot for business, especially to South America, anytime he goes to Peru he brings me back “real” alfajores from their homeland. Sometimes they are even dipped in chocolate. Too much for me to handle there. But regardless, making them at home are just as scrumptious. And they are very people friendly. Who doesn’t like shortbread, sugar, and dulce de leche?
Maybe I can scrounge up a video of who I used to be at 8 years old. Until then, I have these cookies to fill me with that nostalgia.
Butter Cookies with Dulce de Leche (Alfajores)
Adapted from Gourmet
Makes 24 2-inch cookie sandwiches
Note: I used store bought dulce de leche because I think it’s just delicious. I like Colombian arequipe the best. But Whole Foods and most supermarkets sell it and it’s fantastic. It can be made from scratch, but I don’t find it necessary here.
Also, I made my cookies very mini although I’d probably go larger next time. Use whatever cookie cutter you’re feeling, of any size.
For the Butter Cookies
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup confectioners (powdered) sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the Filling
About 1-2 cups store bought dulce de leche (can be found at all supermarkets)
Confectioners sugar, for dusting
Make the Butter Cookies
Whisk the flour and salt together in a medium bowl. In a separate bowl, beat the butter until it is smooth and creamy with a handmixer or in your KitchenAid. Add the sugar and beat until it’s smooth. Beat in the vanilla extract, and then the flour mixture, little by little, until it’s just incorporated. You don’t want to overbeat. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap, and chill until firm.
Set the oven at 350 degrees F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Remove the dough from the fridge and clear some counter space. Dust it with some flour. Roll the dough out until it’s about 1/4 inch thick. Using any cookie cutter you like, cut some rounds out and place them on the baking sheets. Remember that once you cut out the cookies, you can take that dough and re-roll it to make even more. After you’re done, place them back in the fridge for about 15 minutes so they will maintain their shape while they’re baked. Bake for about 7-10 minutes, or until they are lightly browned around the edges.
Assemble your Alfajores
Take one cookie, and spread as much dulce de leche as you want on it. Place another on top to make a little sandwich. Repeat until done. Dust with the confectioners sugar. These can be covered and stored in the fridge for about a week, or about 2-3 days at room temperature.