Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Valentine's Day 2009, Part Trois (last one!)

Project 3: Alfajores

Many of my co-workers are Argentineans. I have also traveled to Argentina for work and I couldn't help but notice the Starbucks-like popularity of these Havanna Cafes. These chic cafes, nestled on every corner in Buenos Aires, peddle rich espressos and delicious confections.

One confection in particular, alfajores, are extremely popular. You can't leave Argentina without a box of these. They are shortbread-like cookies filled with dulce de leche and coated in chocolate, coconut, or meringue. The Havanna variety are wrapped in regal, gold wrappers...Think, the Rolls-Royce of Hostess Ding Dongs.

I tried my hand at making these, with a Valentine's flair, of course.

I used this recipe I found on the net, but any shortbread recipe would do. I would also highly recommend the "semi-homemade" version of making rolled cookies by kneading 1/4 C. of all-purpose flour into one tube of sugar cookie dough. I got that idea from Giada. It yields an ever-so-slightly-cakey cookie that is just sweet enough. Plus, they really keep their shape while baking; no need for spacing them out because they don't spread!

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For the dulce de leche, I was fortunate enough to find it in the international foods aisle of my local grocery store, but you can easily make it by boiling a can of condensed milk for hours and hours. Instructions found here.

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I dipped them half way in semi-sweet chocolate melted in a double boiler.

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Place them on a platter and adorn with wrapped chocolates and watch them disappear!

They were a HUGE hit and even the Argentineans raved about them. I will definitely make these again, maybe with a fluted round cookie cutter next time...

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