Dulce de Leche Cookies–Yum!!!

I have been on a quest for cookie recipes from South and Central America. Today I found this fantastic recipe for Chocolate-Covered Dulce de Leche cookies on David Leite’s site. (David Leite taught the cookbook publishing class I attended last week at ICE. ) Doesn’t this sound delicious?

Dulce de Leche Cookies
For the dulce de leche
2  14-ounce cans sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons light rum
Pinch kosher salt

For the cookies
1 cup granulated sugar
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3 ounces cream cheese, cut into 1/2-inch cubes and chilled in the freezer for 10 minutes
2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes and chilled in the freezer for 10 minutes
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
4 large egg yolks

For the chocolate glaze
16 tablespoons unsalted butter
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, at least 70% cacao, finely chopped
2 tablespoons corn syrup

For the toasted coconut
1 cup sweetened, shredded coconut, finely chopped and toasted in a 375°F (190°C) oven on a baking sheet until golden, about 8 to 10 minutes

Make the dulce de leche
Peel off the labels from the cans of sweetened condensed milk and open them, leaving the top resting on the milk. Wrap heavy foil over the top of each can, pushing down on the center of the foil and running fingers around the inner and outer rim of the can, so the can is sealed as tightly as possible. Place the cans in a three-quart sauce pan and fill the pan with hot tap water, leaving 1/2 inch of can above the waterline. Cover the sauce pan with a lid. Over high heat bring the water to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer for 3 hours. A little milk may spill into the water; don’t worry. What’s important is to maintain the water level by replacing it with hot tap water. The dulce de leche will look like a deep golden brown pudding thick enough for a fork to stand up in on its own.

Carefully remove the cans from the pot and, when cool enough to handle, pour the dulce de leche into the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Add the vanilla, rum, and salt and process until smooth. Transfer to a bowl and cool to room temperature. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before using. (It re-thickens as it chills.) Keeps for 2 weeks.

Make the cookies
In a food processor fitted with a steel blade, process the sugar for about 15 seconds to a fine powder. Add the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and salt and run the motor for 15 seconds until well incorporated.

Evenly scatter the cream cheese and butter cubes over the flour mixture, breaking up any pieces that have clumped together. Combine the dough with 15 one-second on/off pulses until the flour looks like coarse meal.

In a small bowl beat the vanilla and the yolks. Pour them over the flour. Pulse with 10 one-second on/off turns, scrape down the sides, then process with the motor continuously running for about ten more seconds until the dough barely starts to come together and clings to the outer portion of the bowl, leaving the center clear. The dough will be dry and crumbly.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and push it together with your hands to form a ball. Do not knead. Divide the dough into thirds, pat each into a flat 5-inch disk, and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Take one disk out of the refrigerator and roll it out between two sheets of lightly floured waxed paper to a long oval shape 1/8 inch thick. If the dough sticks to the paper and is difficult to roll out, remove the waxed paper from one side, lightly flour the dough, replace the waxed paper, flip over, lightly flour the other side, then continue rolling. Roll out the other disks in the same manner. Place the dough ovals in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes, or up to 2 days, or in the freezer for three months.

When you are ready to bake the alfajores, position the racks in the top third and bottom third of the oven and heat to 375°F (190°C). For best results, line ungreased baking sheets with parchment paper.

Take one sheet of dough out of the refrigerator at a time, remove the waxed paper from one side of the dough, lightly flour it, and replace the waxed paper. Flip it over, peel off the other sheet, and cut the dough into as many 2-inch rounds as possible, reserving the scraps. Place the cookies on the baking sheets about 1/2 inch apart. Continue with the remaining dough in the same manner. Combine all the scraps once and repeat the same steps for rolling, cutting, and baking.

Bake the cookies for 12 minutes, rotating the baking sheets halfway through baking time from front to back and top to bottom until the cookies have a golden edge and bottom. Let the cookies rest for 2 minutes on the baking sheet and then cool on wire racks. The cookies can be stored in an airtight plastic container at room temperature for 2 days or in the freezer for 3 months.

Make the chocolate glaze
In a microwave melt the butter in a 1-quart bowl on high power for about 1 minute.

Remove from the microwave and add the chocolate and corn syrup. Let stand for 1 minute; the heat from the butter should melt the chocolate. Then, stir until melted. If necessary, microwave on medium power for 20-second intervals.

Assemble the alfajores
Line the baking sheets with waxed paper and place wire racks on the paper. Place half the cookies on the racks. Spoon a heaping teaspoon of dulce de leche onto the center of each cookie. Top with another cookie and press until secure and the filling is evenly distributed.

Place an alfajor on a fork with long tines and hold it over the chocolate. Spoon a thin coating of the glaze over the cookie’s top and sides. (The bottom of the cookie does not get coated with chocolate.) With the cookie still on it, gently tap the fork on the bowl rim several times and then pull it across the bowl rim so any excess chocolate drips back into the bowl. Place the coated alfajor on the rack. Repeat with the remaining cookies, making sure they don’t touch each other. Place in the refrigerator for 1 hour until firm.

Place the toasted coconut in a shallow bowl. Set one cookie at a time on the coconut and press coconut only onto the cookie’s sides, edging it with coconut and sealing in the dulce de leche. Be careful not to get fingerprints on the chocolate top. Alfajores keep in the refrigerator for 3 days or the freezer for 3 months.