If there is one thing that I remember vividly from my travels to South American it was my experience at La Rábida Ranch. This family owned ranch, located in the Uruguayan countryside provided a fulfilled day of hay rides, horseback riding, sheep shearing, cow milking and cow skin “skiing”. Some of the visitors participated and some cheered on the side lines. For me, it was humbling to see the entire family involved in what felt like a perfectly orchestrated performance. Upon arrival guests were invited to choose their mode of transportation for the grand tour of the farm & beach. The older generation piled into the antique cars while the more adventurous hopped on the hay wagons and the farmers children rode along side those who were brave enough to venture on horseback.
Upon our return we were served a typical Uruguayan lunch of barbequed lamb, chicken, pork, and beef. If you don’t know by now South American is known for its excellent tasting meat so our taste buds were not disappointed! However, being a sweet tooth person, my lasting impression was from the cookies that they served on the beach half way through our hay ride/horse ride tour.
The Argentinean style Alfajores cookies, consists of two round shortbread like cookies with a dulce de leche filling. If you love caramel then you’ll love dulce de leche. It literally means “candy of milk” and when slathered in between two perfectly baked cookies they are the most delicious cookies in the world! I have tried my best at replicating this delightful sweet treat and below’s recipe now helps me relive my South American Experience over and over.
Now if I can only find some handsome Uruguayan cowboys on horseback to deliver me these cookies once in a while…
INGREDIENTS (Recipe from www.saveur.com)
1 2/3 cups cornstarch
1 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
2/3 cup sugar
10 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
1 tbsp. cognac or brandy
1/2 tsp. lemon zest
4 egg yolks
Dulce de Leche, for filling cookies
Heat oven to 350°. In a bowl, sift together cornstarch, flour, and baking powder; set aside. In a mixer fitted with a paddle, beat together sugar and butter until fluffy. Add cognac and zest; beat. Add yolks one at a time; beat. Add dry ingredients; mix. Transfer dough to a floured surface, knead briefly; divide into 3 pieces. Working with 1 dough piece at a time, roll dough to 1/4″ thickness. Using a 2 1/2″ round cookie cutter, cut out cookies; transfer to parchment paper—lined baking sheets, spaced 1″ apart. Reroll scraps and repeat. Bake until golden, 12–15 minutes. Let cool. Flip half the cookies over; top each with 1 heaping tsp. dulce de leche. Top with remaining cookies.
Yields 20 cookies