When I’m baking for a coworker’s birthday I try to think of something that will be special to that person. Otherwise I’d just make my favorite Chocolate Kahlua Bundt Cake every time.
So for coworker Jessica’s birthday I decided to try something Peruvian because she’ll be heading to Peru soon to meet up with her husband, who has spent the past two months traveling around South America by motorcycle.
One treat I remembered seeing when I was traveling in Peru last year were alfajores, two cookies sandwiched together with creamy, heavenly dulce de leche. Alfajores are found throughout Spain and Latin America, so you could make them for plenty of other occasions. My Baked Elements cookbook has a recipe that looked simple enough, so off I went.
(You can also find a good recipe at A Taste of Peru.)
The book suggested that if you didn’t want to make the dulce de leche yourself there were some very good brands out there that you could buy and not feel ashamed to use. I love a shortcut (especially if I’m baking on a weeknight) so I made a run to Williams Sonoma to look for the La Salamandra brand they mentioned.
They do carry it, but my store only had the chocolate version in stock. It might not be as traditional, but I couldn’t think of anyone who would complain (except Canadian Nick Who Hates Chocolate, and I wasn’t going to let him ruin our good time).
The recipe was simple to follow, and although I’m terrible at rolling out dough, my mother is fantastic at it, and luckily she was around to do the muscle work. A small round cookie cutter makes quick work of cutting out the cookies and they baked up beautifully.
Adding the spoonful of dulce de leche was the hardest part, because I kept wanting to do a spoonful for the cookies, a spoonful for me. A spoonful for the cookies, a spoonful for me. If you can resist that temptation though, then the rest is easy.
In the office I made up a little sign and used Google’s translation tool to wish Jessica a happy birthday in Spanish. Of course, the first real Spanish speaker to come by pointed out the many errors in the sign, which is why you should never trust Google with important work like this.
If you’re doing an international cookie exchange or other cultural baking event, these cookies would totally help you win. Because even if it’s not technically a competition, when it comes to baking there are always winners and losers. And these will give you an edge just because it’s so fun to say “alfajores”. (Pronounced “alpha-HOR-ays”.) Go ahead, say it a few times.
See? Your tongue is having fun even before you give it a cookie.