Posted by: kriscdub | December 22, 2010

Holiday Cookie Madness 2010 Part 1: Dulce de Leche Sandwich Cookies

Garrick and I are home for the holidays again, a bit later than last year, but that means it’s time for our second annual Holiday Cookie Madness! Be sure to check out our holiday cookie recipes from last year, a couple of which (Gingerbread Sandwich Cookies and Turtle Pretzels) we’re making again this year. We’re also trying out several new recipes, of which these are the first. We started yesterday with three and a half pounds of butter in the fridge and possibly a bit of madness in our hearts. By Christmas there will be some (hopefully) epically frosted sugar cookies, some excellent thumbprint cookies, the traditional Jewish version of last year’s Kolacky, and whatever other surprises we can squeeze into the last couple days before Christmas. Let the madness begin!

I’ve been wanting to try making dulce de leche for several years now, but the explosive potential has always made me a bit nervous. But with good instructions and encouragement from Crepes of Wrath and my brother around to help, I thought it was a good time to go for it. Dulce de leche is a type of caramel that instantly brings caramel apples to mind. It’s extremely rich and, despite the nerves, very easy to make. Just don’t try to cool it down too fast and it won’t blow up in your face.

All you need for the dulce de leche is a can of sweetened condensed milk:

You can also buy cans of dulce de leche, but I haven’t seen any at the grocery stores up here in the frigid northlands. As Garrick said, you’re either buying something prepared or buying something prepared and making it into something, so I don’t see any problem with just buying it if you don’t want to make it yourself. But like I said, it’s surprisingly easy!

Just remove the label from the can and place it into a pot that leaves at least an inch of space between the top of the can and the rim of the pot. Fill the pot with water so that there is about an inch of water above the top of the can. Remove the can and bring the water to a rolling boil. Reduce to a simmer over medium-low heat and replace the can in the pot.

Simmer the can for 3 hours, replenishing the water every 20-30 minutes so that there is always at least half an inch of water above the can. It’ll make scary rattling noises and move around as bubbles get trapped under the can, but this does not signal your imminent demise as Garrick and I feared it might. After three hours, turn off the heat and allow the can to cool in the water for about half an hour, or until the pot it cool enough to touch. At this point you can remove the can from the water and either open it and put it somewhere cold to continue cooling or leave it closed and cooling at room temperature. Eventually you’ll want to put it somewhere cold to thicken before you put the dulce de leche on the cookies, but remember that you don’t want it to cool too quickly until after the can is opened.

While the caramel is cooling, make the cookies.

First, cream the butter and sugar  for a few minutes until light and fluffy.

Meanwhile, mix the dry ingredients in a separate bowl.

Separate 4 egg yolks. I always save the egg whites for breakfast the next day. Yum.

Beat in the egg yolks, milk, and vanilla extract.

Scrape down the sides a couple times and mix until combined. Then form into a ball, wrap in plastic or a plastic bag, and chill for at least half an hour.

The dough warms up and gets sticky relatively quickly, so you could split it into two if you like. Garrick and I worked together pretty quickly, so it wasn’t terrible.

Pull off little hunks of dough and roll into balls. Press onto a cookie sheet, flattening slightly. These spread a lot more than we expected. I’d suggest no more than a teaspoon of dough, as ours ended up bigger than we really wanted.

Bake for about 11 minutes at 325 until just starting to turn golden brown at the edges. Allow to cool for a couple minutes on the cookie sheet, then completely on a cooling rack. Match the cookies in pairs by size when cooled.

Spread a bit of chilled dulche de leche on the flat edge of the first cookie in a pair.

Lightly press the second cookie onto the dulce de leche. Don’t force the caramel all the way to the edges, as it will spread on its own.

Sprinkle a bit of coarse sea salt onto the caramel between the edges of the cookies.

We’ve been keeping these cookies chilled to keep the caramel from spreading too much. The cookies are relatively mild so that the dulce de leche can really shine, and the sea salt provides a great contrast. I wish we had kept these on the smaller side, as I think they’d work best bite size, but knowing that they spread while baking makes a big difference.

 

Dulce de Leche Sandwich Cookies

adapted from Crepes of Wrath

1 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk

1 cup unsalted butter, softened

1/2 cup sugar

1 3/4 cup all purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

pinch salt

4 egg yolks

1 tablespoon milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

sea salt for sprinkling

1. Remove label from can of condensed milk. Bring a pot of water to boiling, then reduce to a simmer over medium-low heat. Place can in simmering water so that there is about an inch of water above the top of the can. Simmer for 3 hours, replenishing water every 20-30 minutes.

2. Turn off heat and allow can to cool in water for about half an hour. Open can and leave dulce de leche to chill in refrigerator while preparing cookies.

3. In bowl of electric mixer, cream butter and sugar for 3-5 minutes until smooth and fluffy. Meanwhile, mix together flour, baking soda, and salt in a separate bowl.

4. Beat egg yolks, vanilla, and milk into butter, then slowly add flour mixture, scraping down sides and mixing until combined. Shape dough into a disc and chill for at least half an hour.

5. Preheat oven to 325. Roll pieces of dough no more than a teaspoon inside into balls and press lightly onto cookie sheets. Cookies will spread so place an inch apart. Bake for about 11 minutes until edges are just turning golden brown. Cool on cookie sheets for two minutes, then completely on a cooling rack.

6. When cooled, pair cookies by size. Spread chilled dulche de leche on the flat side of one cookie in each pair, then press the second cookie lightly onto the caramel. Sprinkle coarse sea salt on the caramel between the edges of the cookies. Store chilled.

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