Friday, October 10, 2008


Geoff loves caramel and dulce de leche more than anything else in the world. I think he'd give up fantasy football in exchange for bathing in dulce de leche every day of his life. I am serious.

So you can imagine his joy when I told him I was making alfajores to bring to our friend Audrey's house for dinner the other night.

Alfajores are a South American (and Mexican) cookie that is basically 2 butter cookies held together by a smearing of dulce de leche.

I am going to tell you this now -- I am convinced there is a conspiracy against white people to know about Latino cuisine. I am dead serious. I've asked my Mexican-American friends for salsa recipes and get "Oh it's just a little of tomato and chiles" and the whole time I'm like "You are a lying bastard because I know there's at LEAST cilantro in here and you're doing SOMEthing to those tomatoes and NOT just choppin' 'em up fresh".

For example, I used to work with a Mexican-American girl named Elva. We worked together for Frank for years. And working with Frank together is like being in a war together. That is some serious bonding.

I asked her once how to make Mexican rice (mine comes SOOO CLOSE, but it's not quite "dry" enough) and she told me ... and I've tried 800 variations of the way she told me and it's not the same. So I am CONVINCED she left something out and she's laughing about her silly gringo friend trying to make authentic Mexican.

So help me God, I am going to learn how one of these days.

Although my tortilla soup could kick any other tortilla soup's ass.

And I also make a great guacamole thanks to Dolores getting me a molcajete for a bridal shower gift. Dolores deserves a blog post all her own, but now is not the time.

In any event, the point is: I eye any recipe for any type of Hispanic food with a lot of skepticism. Because I know there's going to be something important missing, some essential wonderful thing that makes the dish perfect.

And when I went looking for a recipe for alfajores (shout-out to my mom for telling me about them after her Mexican-American co-worker brought some into work one day) and I started at Gourmet.

Gourmet is my second favorite cooking magazine. Cook's Illustrated is the first and Saveur is third. Cook's always has great traditional recipes (chocolate chip cookies, meatloaf, vegetable beef soup, etc.) and Gourmet and Saveur always have great international recipes.

So I went to Gourmet's website and was super-duper excited to see the recipe and how easy it looked.

Except that it didn't tell you how to make dulce de leche.

And the instructions say to add the "cornstarch and 3/4 cup flour" together except the ingredient list doesn't include cornstarch.

Typical. TYPICAL!!!

So I used the Internet to find a recipe for dulce de leche.

I've heard rumor and talk from my Latino friends about how you "just put a can of sweetened condensed milk in a pot of water and cook" and that makes dulce de leche, but I wasn't about to go ruining my new stove without some kind of proof.

And -- God bless the Internet -- I found a video so I knew it could be done.

I used my simmer burner and cooked it for 4 hours. It was somewhat "scary" because you don't know how much it's cooked because the bottom, of course, cooks faster than the top. So the part coming out of the top looked pretty pale the entire time, but when I emptied the can, the bottom looked like yummy caramelly goodness.

The end result was -- I am not kidding you -- my new favorite cookie.

I used cake flour instead of flour (yes, those are MY comments at the bottom of the Gourmet recipe) and used LOADS more than 1 cup (more like a cup and a half) and in all honesty they are even better the next day.

I had a lot of dulce de leche leftover (and Geoff has requested I make him dulce de leche ice cream to go with the apple pie he wants on his birthday, all of which is fine by me because I won't eat apple pie -- fruit has NO PLACE in my desserts, but dulce de leche ice cream is the greatest thing on earth) so I made more cookies tonight. The recipe is so easy (once you figure out that you need to include more than what it calls for) I made it after dinner (which, btw, was linguini with clams -- a family favorite that takes 30 minutes or less to make, thankyouverymuchRachaelRay).

The point of the story is this: Erik, if you're reading this, I totally know you left something out when you told me how your mom makes pico de gallo and I'm totally holding that against you (and I'm convinced that you have to know how to make that black salsa from Baja Fresh that YOU KNOW I LOVE) but we're friends so I won't hold it against you forever; HOWEVER, I'm still holding you to the promise you made to take me to a quinceanera.

And that husbands LOVE when you make cookies for them on a Friday night, particularly when they're filled with dulce de leche.

And, yes, tomorrow morning we're going to be participating in the neighborhood yard sale. I'm ONLY doing it to get rid of Geoff's computer chair.


Anonymous said...

She's my Colombian Friend, Fernanda. It was at her bridal shower that one of her friends brought a HUGE platter of these. I will admit to only eating my share.....


Annie said...

Ya' know those apple squares I told you about? I also make an apple pie like that - Geoff would get the best of both worlds, apple pie and dulce de leche! (I entered it in Idler's "Mom & Apple Pie" contest one year, but apparently, since it didn't have a top crust, I didn't follow the damn rules. I swear, it was a conspiracy!)

Poodle said...

I MAY need that recipe. He warned me he is going to find a recipe for apple pie for me to make for his birthday ... and we know what a bad idea letting someone who doesn't cook pick out a recipe could possibly turn out ... :yikes:

I love that you entered the Idler's contest, too!!! hehehehe

Anonymous said...

OK, so i had the same idea... using the Dulce de Leche to spoon over the Big Apple pie i'll make next weekend for both our Libra boys!!

Poodle said...

Geoff will love you if you do that. I don't care what Kyle thinks.

Candice Lynn said...

So I didn't see the "mom" at the end of the first anonymous post, and I read the second where she talks about your "Libra boys," and for a SPLIT second I thought it was Megan F. and got really annoyed. I then realized the poster referred to making something (ie working), knew it couldn't be her, and then discovered the "mom" on the first post. Whew...