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Wednesday, May 3, 2017


I've told you before how bad I am at baking.  I think I've compared the aesthetics of my chocolate chip cookies to some sort of post-apocalyptic dystopian creature.  In other words, when I try to create lovely cookies, I fail miserably.  So what to do?  Grab a friend that's good at baking and make her help me, that's what!  Ha!

A few years back, my cousin went on a mission trip to Argentina.  As a souvenir, she brought me the most divine confection I have ever tasted...Alfajores!  These are a traditional sandwich cookie found in Argentina, Chile, Peru, Uruguay, Paraguay and Southern Brazil.  Though flavors can vary, the filling is usually dulce de leche and the outside is usually coated with powdered sugar.

If I were going to sing a love song to a food, it would be dulce de leche!  I mean, have you ever tasted it?  The flavor is just rich and multi-layered.  By definition, it is simply burned sweet milk.  I believe that if one could eat a million dollars, it would taste like dulce de leche!

There is a very simple method for making your own.  You boil a can of sweetened condensed milk for three hours.  That's it.  Ha!  Oh be sure and remove the label from the can first.  Yikes!

Seriously, just put that whole can in there.  Don't open it.  One other thing, make sure the water level covers the can(s) for the full three hours.  You might have to add water a few times.

So back to the sadness that is my baked products:

This was my solo attempt at making alfajores.  Pretty ugly, huh?  Also, these cookies turned out super crumbly.  They just turned to dust if I touched them.
They reminded me of Mother Gothel in Tangled, when she lost access to Rapunzel's healing hair that was keeping her ageless and she just turned to dust.  My solo cookies were Mother Gothel cookies!  Sad!

This is where my good friend Erin comes in!
Skilled baker to the rescue!
For the cookies, we used Vianney's Alfajores recipe from Sweet Life blog:

Erin's baking tips for me:
1.  Butter for cookies should be room temperature.  It should get that way by sitting out on the counter for at least an hour.  Putting it in the microwave or even in the sun to soften, makes it softer on the outside than it is in the middle.  It should be uniformly soft, through and though.  
2.  Something you can do to achieve room temperature butter faster is to unwrap it and cut it into small pieces.  This increases the surface area so that more warm air can circulate around.
3.  If you use a lot of flour to roll out the dough, it can change the flavor.  Powdered sugar is good to use...but this can make it too sweet.  She likes to use a mixture of flour and powdered to sugar to roll out cookies.
4.  When using a rolling pin to roll out cookie dough, be very gentle.  Do not press down too hard and carefully roll dough out so that it is evenly flattened.  

With Erin's help, I created these perfectly round specimens that are ready to pop in the oven.  This has seriously never happened before!

Here they are, the glorious result of my baking afternoon with my friend!  They turned out beautiful and delicious!  They tasted just like what I remember my cousin bringing me back from her Argentinian travels.

I can't say that I'm suddenly an excellent or confident baker.  Actually, I'm probably still pretty bad at it. Ha!  But I will remember the tips I learned for next time.  Any baking extravaganzas I participate in may always have to be with my skilled friends.  Oh well, that makes it more fun anyway!  -1CC