Tuesday, November 11, 2008

My Failed Attempt at Making Alfajores


I always try to eat healthy so I almost never make baked goods anymore. When someone asked me to make something for a local bake sale, I happily accepted and immediately started to look for ideas on the Internet. In the end, I decided to make alfajores, a traditional Spanish/Latin American cookie. Why? Because I had no clue what it was until the moment I stumbled upon it on the web, and I love trying new things...especially if it is exotic!

Alfajor is two short bread cookies with a dulce de leche filling in the middle. Most of the time, they are dusted and covered with powdered sugar. Dulce de leche is a caramelized milk based sauce that is created by slowly heating sweetened milk. I finally found a recipe on the internet that I was comfortable with, and it totally tanked. I tried contacting the author to ask her about it, but she is currently out of commission.

After six hours of hard and careful labor, my dulce de leche was runny with no hope of it ever thickening, and my short bread was tasteless. Trying to apply what I know about cooking and sauces, I attempted to revive my dulce de leche with corn starch. That was an awful idea, and I had to throw it out. I'm not sure if it was the recipe that I used or if it was plainly my lack of skills, but it was disappointing that a whole day had passed without any results.

This is what alfajores are supposed to look like:

This was all I could produce:

I kid you not, that was literally all I made...two measly cookies (that tasted more like bread) that couldn't even keep their circular shape.

Beebs was making Betty Crocker cherry chip cupcakes in parallel, and I couldn't bear to end the day with a failure, so I helped her decorate some cupcakes.

We had a good laugh over them, and called them our "80's cupcakes". All the cupcakes out there look so professional nowadays, and I'm not sure if people even use heart- and butterfly-shaped sprinkles anymore (at least not grown adults anyway). The last time I remember using them was in the 80's...hence, my 80's cupcakes.

I will try to make alfajores again, but only when I have a whole day to spare.

***[Updated Mar 15 '09] I finally made a successful batch of alfajores! Go here to read all about it.


Fenke said...

i like those sprinkles very much - i also like to use heartshaped ones. germany is unfortunately not the greatest place to find sprinkles.

Bri said...

I'm sorry your alfajores didn't turn out the way they were supposed to. I have been intending to try them for a while now. I don't know what dulce de leche recipe you used, but I used David Lebovitz' recipe, and it is really super easy. Plus, you can make it ahead of time and simply store in in the refrigerator. The link: http://www.davidlebovitz.com/archives/2005/11/dulce_de_lechec.html I hope that helps if you decide to try again! Good luck, and your 80's cupcakes are supercute, and I still use the silly shaped sprinkles and I was born in the 80's.

nooschi said...

Hi Fenke,
Good to hear that I'm not the only one! Thanks for the comment.

Hi Bri,
Thanks so much for the link. I'll have to try it knowing you had success with it.

Ariel said...

Love the cupcakes and the purple one is my favorite!!

Xavier said...

You guys are amazing, making alfajores is not an easy thing.
It may take lots of experience to make them unforgettable.
Check this site out. It will help you understand how much people love the Alfajor in Toronto. A true Artisan product.