Friday, September 26, 2008

Sorta Alfajores

This is the third and final cookie I made for my Christmas in September party. These aren’t quite alfajores, because they don’t use dulce de leche. I had made some caramel a week ago for the apple cupcakes, but it ended up too burnt tasting for me to want to use it. Instead I put it in the fridge and saved it to make a burnt caramel frosting at some point in the future. I ended up using it for these cookies. The cookie base is an orange-almond shortbread, and the filling is the burnt caramel frosting. People really loved these, although they were a little messy to eat because the caramel would leak out. The recipe I’ve provided also makes WAY more caramel filling than you need for the number of cookies. Stick it in the fridge and use it to frost some cupcakes.

Almond-Orange Shortbread

Makes 18 Sandwiches (36 cookies)

1-1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter  
1 cup confectioners' sugar  
2 tablespoons granulated sugar  
1/4 teaspoon salt 
1/4 teaspoon orange extract  
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract  
1/3 cup ground almonds (I ground about ¾ of a cup of whole, blanched almonds to get this amount)  
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1. Cream together the butter and the sugars on medium speed until fluffy. Mix in the salt, the extracts, the almonds, and the flour. Once the dough starts to come together into medium sized clumps stop the mixer and press the dough together with your hands.

2. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Take the dough out of the fridge. Break the dough into two pieces. On a floured surface roll out one of the disks until it is about ¼ inch thick. Use a round cookie cutter, or a glass to cut 2 – 3 inch circles out of the dough. Pick up the extra dough, and transfer the circles to the cookie sheets. Roll out the second disk of dough and do the same, then combine the extra pieces of dough and roll it out. Continue rolling out the dough until you have made as many cookies as you can.

5. Bake for 12 – 14 minutes, or until the edges are just turning golden. Remove from the oven and let cool on the cookie sheets

Caramel Filling

1 cup sugar
6 Tbs butter
½ cup heavy cream
2 sticks butter softened
8 oz. fat free cream cheese
3 cups confectioner’s sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

1. Put the sugar in the bottom of a medium large, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium high heat. Whisk the sugar constantly until it is fully melted and begins to bubble.

2. As soon as the sugar begins to bubble, add the 6 Tbs of butter and continue whisking constantly until the butter is melted.

3. Take the caramel off the heat. Count to three, and then pour in the heavy cream. Recipes say that the caramel will really bubble up at this point, but mine never does. If it’s not bubbling start whisking briskly to keep the caramel even. Once the caramel has cooled a little, pour it into a measuring cup to cool.

4. Once the caramel has cooled off, cream together the remaining two sticks of butter and the cream cheese until they are fluffy. Add the caramel and vanilla and beat to combine. Begin adding the powdered sugar. Beat in at least 2 cups and taste, add the third cup if you think it needs it.


1. Spoon ~ 2 tsp of caramel onto the bottom of a cookie, and press another cookie on top of the caramel.

2. Sift confectioner’s sugar over the cookies for decoration.

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