Monday, March 14, 2011

The Discontented

Unfortunately it seems I'm a good example of why human beings have a hard time being happy. The logical person would think that happiness if achieved by getting what you want. When my sister and I first got to Argentina, all we ate were alfajores and dulce de leche ice cream. She even tried to talk the bakery back in the states where she worked to start making alfajores. But then after awhile, after my 10 millionth alfajor, I kind of stopped thinking about them. As Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks put it, how can I miss you when you won't go away?
Or maybe it's just a matter of taking for granted the things that are always available. In Argentina every corner kiosk sells at least 10 pre-packaged varieties. Felipe would sometimes buy a couple of chocolate-covered ones on the way home for merienda (afternoon snack), or occasionally we'd buy huge, crumbly alfajores de maizena walking around the city (the best ones being from Parque Centenario, 3 for 2 pesos, about 50 cents). But we never had any desire to make them at home, until now, 3000 miles away.

This type of alfajor can be found in bakeries in Buenos Aires-- they often sell coin-sized ones as well as these larger, one-per-(reasonable)-person ones. The buttery cookies and chocolate covering make it perfect with coffee, for your afternoon merienda. The sandwiches can also be made without the chocolate covering.

Chocolate-Covered Alfajores
     adapted from todo caserito   

500 g. all-purpose flour 
125 g. powdered sugar
½ tsp. salt
9 oz. (2 sticks + 2 Tbsp., or 250 g.) butter, cold and in large cubes
1 egg
1 egg yolk
zest from 1 orange
about 2 c. thick dulce de leche, jarred or homemade (if it's runny, cook it over low heat, stirring constantly, until it has thickened and mounds on a cold plate)
14 oz. (400 g.) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate

In a food processor, blitz the flour, powdered sugar and salt together briefly. Add the cold butter and blitz again just until you have a sandy-looking mixture. (If you don't have a food processor, combine the flour, powdered sugar and salt, then cut in the butter until the mixture looks sandy.) In a large bowl, whisk the egg, egg yolk and orange zest just to break up the eggs a bit. Add the flour mixture to the bowl and stir lightly just until you have a dough that just sticks together; don't overmix. Gather everything into a ball and press it into a disc. Wrap with plastic and put it in the fridge to chill at least 2 hours or overnight.
Preheat the oven to 360ºF.Unwrap the plastic and lay it out on the counter. Roll out the dough on top of the sheet of plastic (this will help it from sticking) to a thickness of 1/4 inch, working quickly-- due to the amount of butter in the dough it will become unmanageable if your kitchen happens to be a bit warm (if this happens, just gather it back up and let it rest in the fridge again until thoroughly chilled. With a 2 in. diameter cookie cutter, cut out circles in the dough. Use the plastic underneath to help remove the circles to a cookie sheet. Gather up the dough left over after the cut outs into a disc, rewrap it in the plastic, and place it back in the fridge. Bake the cookies for 8-10 min., until their bases are very light gold.
Let the cookies cool. Take half of the cookies and place them face down. Spread 1½ tablespoons dulce de leche on each cookies, then cover each with a plain cookie, face up. Heat half the chocolate in the microwave or in a double boiler (a heat-proof bowl over a pot of simmering water works too, just make sure the steam doesn´t touch the chocolate) just until melted. Lay out a large sheet of wax paper. Dip each sandwich in the chocolate, using a fork to retrieve it and letting any drips fall into the bowl before you remove the sandwich to the wax paper. Melt the rest of the chocolate and dip the rest of the sandwiches. Let the chocolate harden. If you´re in a hot climate you might need to refrigerate them. These alfajores are best the day after they're made; the flavors need a little time to meld into each other. Store them in a sealed container.
Makes about 24 filled alfajores.

1 comment:

  1. Oh Eva, I have been trying to ignore dulce de leche ever since I heard about it. You are not helping me! Thanks for stopping by my orange wholewheat chocolate filled cookies. I have heard of Mamoul cookies with dried fruit stuffings, but never heard of Kleeja.

    Looked it up and it does sound similar to our cardamom whole wheat cookies/nankhatais. I guess as Indian food is influenced a lot by Persian/ Iranian food and flavours they may even be the same thing!

    Now I have an insane fixation for cookies with oozing dulce de leche centers, maybe dipped in chocolate too and rolled in chopped hazlenuts( what the heck) which is probably going to keep me up all night. Thanks for that :P