4.29.2017

Don't Cry for Me Argentina: I Have the Recipe Now!

One of the first blog friends I made, more than seven years ago, was Paula Montenegro of Vintage Kitchen Notes. I learned a lot from her. She cheered me on in the beginning, and we became fast friends.

Paula lives in Buenos Aires and, happily for me, speaks amazing English. Like many people in other countries, her English is better than mine.

One of the many things I have learned from her posts is that if Argentina had a "National Paste" it would be dulce de leche.

I never knew there were so many desserts that use this sweet and wonderful condiment.

If Argentineans had a "National Saying" it might be: "A day without dulce de leche is like a day in any other country."

One of the desserts with dulce de leche that really caught my fancy was Paula’s alfajores.

I had my first of these cookies in San Francisco from a small food cart in the Ferry Market Building. The baker was from Buenos Aires so I knew I was getting the Real McCoy.

It was love at first bite. These were the most delicate and tender cookies I had ever had and they were, of course, filled with dulce de leche. He also had a version filled with raspberry jam.

It wasn't until a few years later, when I saw Paula's post, that I understood why the cookies were so tender. Cornstarch. Lots of it.

These are quite easy to make, and can be made with any size cutter. I liked the bigger size, because I am a little piggy! Filling them with dulce de leche is traditional, as is using any number of fruit jams.

~ David

Alfajores
Paula Montenegro, Vintage Kitchen Notes

150 gram unsalted butter, room temperature
200 grams sugar
2 egg yolks
1 egg
1 tablespoon cognac or other liqueur
a few drops vanilla extract
zest of 1/3 lemon
100 grams all purpose flour
320 grams cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
dulce de leche, or fruit jam

In a large bowl, using a wooden spoon, cream butter.

Add egg yolks and whole egg and mix well to incorporate. Add cognac, vanilla and lemon zest. Mix again.

Add flour and cornstarch gradually, mixing very well until no streaks remain. The final dough will be very soft and silky but not sticky. Let rest for 10 minutes.

Preheat oven to 325°F. On a floured surface, roll dough about ¼ inch thick. Using a 2-inch or 2 1/2-inch round cutter, cut circles and place them on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Pull together the scraps of dough and re-roll, cutting rounds until all dough is used.

Bake for 15 minutes until the cookies are barely starting to color. Let cool a few minutes on TJ cookie sheet before transferring to a rack to cool completely. Turn half of the cookies bottom side up on a work surface.

Fill a pastry bag, fitted with a 1/4-inch or 3/8-inch tip, with dulce de leche. Pipe onto the bottoms of half the rounds. Press lightly with remaining rounds, flat side down, forming alfajores. Alternatively, spread a thick layer of jam instead of the dulce de leche.

Makes about 24 cookies, depending on the size of your cutter.


32 comments:

  1. Hi David, Paula sounds like a wonderful friend and champion. I have noticed that many people in other countries can speak at least 2 if not 3 or 4 other languages and as you said English better than myself. Lovely looking cookies, love dulce de leche.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Cheri there are many days when English escapes me and all I can do is babble! The cookies are wonderful!

      Delete
  2. I've been eyeing a version of this recipe from Greg Denton and Gabrielle Quinonez cookbook Around the Fire. They're quite similar (except for the lemon zest). GREG

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know you will like them. Maybe Zazie will like one, too...

      Delete
  3. I love these! My recipe also uses cornflour and it makes them "friabili" as they say in Italian. In fact quite a few Italian cakes also use cornflour - once you realise that, it is easier to get that texture. These look particulary delicious David. My mouth is watering ....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. How interesting, Paola - I have yet to see an Italian cake that calls fro cornflour but it makes so much sense!

      Delete
  4. They look very pretty, David. And I'm sure they're delicious. I'd like them with the raspberry jam. For whatever reason I don't actually care for the taste of dulce de leche. I know, weird. I'm not big on Nutella, either—practically sacrilegious for someone of Italian extraction.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No Nutella??? That is kind of like me, a foodie, refusing to drink coffee or tea... In fact, I have never had either! The jam (and lemon curd) taste great inside these crumbly disks of heaven.

      Delete
  5. Oh you make it look easy...and delicious

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, Carolyne, they ARE easy and delicious! :)

      Delete
  6. I love that Argentinian saying. Very cute. And even more I love dulce de leche! The brown color/caramelization is just beautiful!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, I did make up that Argentinian saying... but I bet it's true!

      Delete
  7. Wow these are amazing and something I have never tasted in Australia but they sound gorgeous. I bet they taste even better, thanks for sharing such a pretty and delicious recipe 8)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Merryn - I really recommend you try them. Wonderful cookie and especially nice texture.

      Delete
  8. did not know these biscuits. thanks. they sound good and easy/ and remind me of some versions of Italian pasta frolla.... I would pair them with some sort of fake, quick jam, with almost no sugar... almost like a thick fruit compote. stefano
    ps: never liked Nutella, not even as a child (however, I could have occasionally some super quality gianduia cream from people like Domori or other top producers - but then we are talking about another level of chocolate spreads...)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Stefano - your idea of using a fresh, quick jam is perfect.

      When I was a kid and visiting Europe, everyone was eating Nutella on bread. I didn't like it at all. However, when it gets baked into things, I am a happy man. So, in the end, it is gianduia that I love. It's too much as a plain candy, but in cakes it is great!

      Delete
  9. Dear David, nice to see Paul´s lovely cookies come to life here in your wonderful pictures and through your kind and thoughful words...you did a marvelous job with these amazing tea time treats!
    Hope that life is treating you and yours well - I do hope to find more time for blogging and commenting during the next few months...I`ll try to do my best!
    Ganz liebe Grüße and dich und Mark aus dem sehr verregneten und kühlen Bonn!
    Andrea & Co.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I was so relieved when Paula complimented them - I would hate to have let her down!

      I can only imagine how busy you are - I completely understand, as it is crazy for me, too. Liebe Grüße. d

      Delete
  10. Travelling through South America for the amount of time we just did, we came across our fair share of alfojores. Each country has their own version, and within that country, I learned there are even more. The simple Argentine ones like your beauties were one of my favourites, and then you go to somewhere like Bolivia or Colombia, and they turn into something about 20 times the size. They're enormous!

    Oh, and then there's the different types of dulce de leche. I must say, though, the stuff in Uruguay was our favourite. Nowhere near as sweet, but almost buttery. Perfect slathered over croissants!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I was wondering about that, John - just how many variations on alfajores can there be? I am glad somebody makes them larger than me - makes me feel less of a piggy!

      Now - on to the dulce de leche. We have a different variety here, too, made with goat's milk. Let me know how the ones you have found differ

      Delete
  11. David, these look delightful! I often use cognac or brandy for flavoring. And I would definitely like them with dulce de leche, but even more with raspberry jam. No Nutella for me. The platter you've used is so perfect for the dulce de leche.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Honestly, Jean, I am not sure Nutella would work all that well. Jam is definitely good, and I think lemon curd would work well, too! I found that wonderful platter at a second hand shop for $2! Great find!

      Delete
  12. These look delicious David! Interesting point about the cornstarch--I just realized that must be behind the texture of one of my mother's Christmas cookies...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ooh, Inger - I hope you will share that cookie recipe come holiday time!

      Delete
  13. I'm definitely a dulce de leche person! dulce de leche is one of my faves because it's in my culture. Will definitely try these. Thanks for sharing ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, RT - I hope these are as good as those you grew up with!

      Delete
  14. You make these cookies look and sound so delicious! Love that they're so tender and great tip with the cornstarch. I can imagine these would melt in my mouth with a cuppa. The light on the platter of cookies is lovely!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They definitely wold melt in your mother - it's why I like hem so (with cocoa, of course). Sunlight is sometimes tricky - you won't see it often on the blog, but every once in a while it is pretty astonishing, Ngeun!

      Delete

Thank you for taking the time to leave me a note - I really appreciate hearing from you and welcome any ideas you may have for future posts, too. Happy Cooking!

If you would like to receive follow-up comments, simply click the "Subscribe by E-mail" link to the right of the "Publish" and "Preview" buttons.