"This time, the Alfajore. Next time, Grandpa's leg. I don't want your brother in the house, Phil."
I found this recipe on lovely Patricia's site, and divided the work up between two days a few weeks back, right before life turned it up. The cookies, by themselves, are strange, the cornstarch definitely loud and clear. But pressed cheek to cheek with dulce de leche and dusted with soft, feathery drifts of powdered sugar and left to sit for a bit, they soften and meld into a confection worth cupping your chin for, to catch the falling sugar but even so there's no doubt you'll get a little on and in your nose, and endure coke jokes from friends and loved ones. Most likely no, though, because your friends and family are classy, delicate people, like the mom and dad in 'Home Alone'.
Remember when Uncle Frank stole the salt and pepper shakers in 'Home Alone'? Remember that? He was the worst person I'd ever seen on screen, and remained so for a long time, until "Fry, piggies, fry!" made me afraid of starting high school (Side note: A week before I began high school, I caught 'Lean on Me' by accident, right at the scene where those girls corner that other girl in the bathroom, rip off her sweatshirt and push her back out into the throngs - this didn't make me afraid of high school in general, just edited and trimmed the fear, to the point where I didn't use the bathroom at school for my first semester that year).
Hey, let's sit back down.
So, Alfajores. Delicious. Decadent. Ridiculous. You're playing big, with real money, if you make these - for one, they're a substantial size and heft, because they aren't worth it unless you're going to really buckle down with the dulce de leche, making a vow to yourself as you plop and spread. But the upside is, unlike many sandwich cookies these are more like cakes, especially after left to soften for at least a few hours. I would suggest you do that, because then they're even more delicious. Make them. You're lovely. They're lovely. I feel like you guys should at least go to dinner. I'm not saying babies, I'm not saying a mid-century ranch with a walkout basement, I'm just saying happy hour and mutual-excitement level texting.
1 1/4 cup Cornstarch
1 cup AP Flour, sifted
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup (one stick) salted butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 egg yolks, beaten slightly
2 Tablespoons milk or Coganc
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Dulce De Leche/Cajeta
Sift together the dry ingredients.
Cream together, in the bowl of your electric mixer or a large, sturdy bowl if you're doing this by hand and showing the whole world up, the butter and sugar, which should turn light yellow and fluffy before adding the egg yolks, Cognac/milk, and vanilla extract. Once combined, slowly add in the sifted dry ingredients, and mix just until incorporated.
Turn out onto a floured surface, and roll to a 1/4 inch (I rolled mine a little thinner) thickness. Choose your desired cutter, and as efficently as possible, cut out rounds and transfer them (a very thin metal/fish spatula comes in handy - really make sure you've floured your counter well) to a parchment-lined, light colored baking sheet. Both Patricia and her source recipe note that you can only re-roll the dough once or twice more. I fully rolled my dough scraps at least twice, and the resulting cookies did not suffer in texture compared to their pure brethren.
Bake for 10-12 minutes - The cookies puff and dry out on top, slowly turning into pale, dry mounds. If a little browning around the edges occurs, that is just fine. At the 10 minute mark, pull them out and check the undersides - they should release from the paper easily and be just golden brown. Once done, remove, cool for 1-2 minutes on the pan, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. If making ahead, once the cookies have fully cooled store in a large Ziploc bag until ready to use.
When you're ready to assemble, open your chosen caramelized milk product and stir, if needed, to loosen up the mass. Sometimes I add a bit of salt dissolved in 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla extract, which really pumps up the caramel notes and gets rid of any tinny, metallic flavor. Spread 1 heaping Tablespoon of dulce de leche on the underside of half the cookies, then sandwich with the others, applying slight pressure to help the filling spread.
Sift powdered sugar over the tops and serve. They keep around one day assembled, but try to make them last the afternoon.