Thursday, January 14, 2016

dulce de leche filled butter cookies

Well I know it's been a while since I've blogged, and it's been entirely circumstantial... now that I'm in my second trimester (yes, I'm pregnant with my second child!) I'm starting to feel a little better and food is actually tasting and smelling good again. So now I'm back with a stellar recipe that should be made in earnest.

Years ago when I subscribed (and they still printed) Gourmet Magazine, I ripped this recipe out and saved it. I had never tried dulce de leche before, but I was intrigued by how easy and delicious these cookies looked. The first time I made them (maybe 5 years ago?) I had found a jar of dulce de leche at William's Sonoma and served the cookies after a dinner party. We were all hooked by the thin, delicate cookies and the creamy dulce del leche...needless to say these cookies are special and stayed ingrained in my memory as something to repeat. Recently I was at Trader Joe's and found a jar of dulce de leche, which inspired me to make these cookies again and share them here!

The dough is not overly sweet, which allows for a generous filling of dulce de leche and dusting of confectioners' sugar. The cookies, by themselves, are simple and unassuming, but filled with the dulce de leche they soften and crumble into the filling becoming one glorious bite after another. My sister recently made this recipe but filled the cookies with Nutella (which were also incredible, although I still prefer the dulce de leche) but really any jam or nut butter would be great with these.

Dulce de Leche filled Butter Cookies
Recipe barely adapted by Gourmet Magazine
Makes 16-17 sandwich cookies

Recipe Notes-
- Dulce de leche is a thick, caramel-looking substance but has a completely different taste from caramel. Caramel is super sweet with almost bitter/burnt undertones whereas dulce de leche is made from sweetened milk, so it’s much creamier and subtle in flavor. You can easily substitute caramel, if you prefer, but these cookies are closer to representing a Latin American cookie called alfajores and they’re worth tracking down a jar of delicious dulce de leche. I found my jar most recently at Trader Joe’s, but you can also order it here. Any remaining dulce de leche can be used as a dip for apples or topping on ice cream (or just sticking a spoon in and helping yourself). Any jam or nut butter could also be used as a replacement for dulce de leche. 
- The original recipe calls for a bit less vanilla, but also a tablespoon of a particular distilled brandy called Pisco, originating in Latin American countries. Regular brandy can be substituted, or it can be left out all together which is what I did.

¾ stick (6 Tbs.) unsalted butter, room temperature
¼ Cup granulated sugar
2 Large egg yolks
½ tsp. vanilla extract
1/3 Cup cornstarch
¾ Cup all-purpose flour
¼ tsp. baking powder
pinch of salt

About ¼ Cup of good quality dulce de leche (see above recipe note)
Confectioners sugar for dusting

1. Preheat oven to 350° degrees and prepare baking sheets with parchment, grease or a silpat.
2. In a large bowl (with either a stand mixer or electric mixer) cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add in the egg yolks and vanilla extract (and brandy, if you choose) and beat until incorporated. Stir in the cornstarch, ¾ cup flour, baking powder and salt until combined. The dough may look crumbly and that's ok, it will come together once you start to roll it. 
3. On a floured surface, form the dough into a disk and roll out to 1/8 of an inch thickness (generously flouring your board and rolling pin since the dough will stick). Use a 1 ½-inch round cookie cutter to cut 32 to 34 cookies (reroll scraps if necessary) and arrange on the prepared baking sheets.
4. Bake until firm, but pale with golden edges, 10 to 13 minutes (rotating the pans halfway through baking). Transfer cookie sheets to a cooling rack and let cool completely before filling.
5. Sandwich the cookies with about a ½ teaspoon of dulce de leche. Sprinkle the sandwiched cookies with a dusting of confectioners’ sugar.

- Filled cookies can be kept in an airtight container for up to 2 days, or unfilled cookies can be made ahead of time up to 3 days in advance.

*This is not a sponsored post, I just wanted to give you a reference for where to buy dulce de leche and which brand I used.