dulce de leche cookie sandwiches (alfajor)

Posted by on Jan 12, 2015 | 2 comments

alfajor

Today I bring you these special treats along with a bit of confusion. They’re Dulce de Leche Cookie Sandwiches and they’re quite tasty. The short bread is rich and flaky. The homemade dulce de leche filling is stuffed with bold sweetness. And the hint of shredded coconut sealing the edges conveniently diverts your attention from the sweetness of the buttery caramel and cruises right along in parallel harmony with the other flavors.

 

Very delicious…

alfajor

But going back to the confusion part…For once, I will not pour my emotions onto this screen. And for once, I will hold back from making pros and cons lists to sort out my future on this blog and restrain from treating it like a diary, because really…does that ever help anyways?

alfajor

Haven’t we learned by now that there are pros and cons to every situation? Haven’t we learned that there comes a point that when over-thinking the bountifulness of positives and negatives in a situation does more harm than good? For instance, in my situation, the overload of thought-out possibilities that I play over in my head has the potential to eventually become venomous, stinging me in the core and leaving me momentarily disabled and paralyzed. People suggest for me to listen to my heart and to follow my gut, but that’s not so easy to do because my gut and heart want to do and experience so much that they have trouble focusing at times.

alfajor

But among all the noise, I have tried to listen hard to my heart. And among all the internal commotion, I’ve tried to follow my gut, if only to learn that things will be okay no matter where my life and career take me next.

I have to and hope to remember that.

alfajor

Dulce de Leche Cookie Sandwiches (Alfajor)
 
Prep time
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Store in a tightly-sealed container at room temperature for about 4 days.
Author:
Serves: 20 cookie sandwiches
Ingredients
  • 4 oz (1/2 cup) butter, room temperature
  • 2 oz (1/4 cup) sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 5 ½ oz (1 cup + 2 tablespoons) all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup dulce de leche
  • ¼ cup unsweetened shredded coconut
Instructions
  1. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set oven temperature to 350 F.
  2. Combine butter, sugar, and vanilla extract in a bowl and mix with a paddle attachment or a hand-held mixer on medium-high speed until butter is smooth, light, and fluffy. Turn mixer off and scrape sides of bowl.
  3. Meanwhile, combine all-purpose flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl. Stir well.
  4. Turn speed on mixer to low and add dry mixture to bowl. Continue mixing until dry ingredients are mixed well.
  5. Flatten shortbread dough into a disc, wrap, and freeze for about 10-15 minutes until dough is firm and chilled.
  6. Cut flattened shortbread dough in half. Place one half in the fridge and keep other half outside to be rolled. Work the first chilled flattened piece of dough with hands until it’s pliable, but not so much that it becomes soft and warm. Sprinkle flour over working surface and place dough over it. Roll shortbread dough to ⅛”-1/4” thickness, sprinkling additional flour as needed and turning dough 90 degrees after each time it’s rolled so that it doesn’t become stuck to surface. (An offset spatula or a bench scraper are tools that will allow you to do this easily).
  7. Use a 2” ring cutter to cut out rounds of dough and place cutouts on prepared sheet trays. Refrigerate for about 15 minutes so that dough becomes firm. Repeat steps 6 and 7 with second half of shortbread cookie dough. Chill, roll, and cut out rounds from dough scraps as well.
  8. Remove trays from fridge and bake cookies at 350 F for approximately 8-10 minutes, until edges are light golden brown. Place baking sheets on a cooling rack and allow cookies to cool down completely.
  9. Turn cookies over and set them into pairs on the tray so that you end up with a top piece and a bottom piece for each cookie sandwich. Pipe about one to two tablespoons of dulce de leche in the center of one of the cookies and place top piece over dulce de leche filling. Squeeze top and bottom cookies together so that dulce de leche shows up to the edges and slightly leaks out. Repeat procedure until all cookies are filled and assembled.
  10. Place unsweetened shredded coconut in a small bowl. Roll assembled cookies one at a time in the shredded coconut so that coconut adheres to the dulce de leche on the edges of the cookies.
Notes
Already-made dulce de leche can be purchased in most grocery stores. However, if you would like to make your own dulce de leche, place an unopened 14 oz. can of sweetened condensed milk in a tall pot and submerge it completely with water. (Be sure to remove stickers from can before you submerge it in water). Cook can at medium-high heat for 4-5 hours, maintaining a constant gentle boil and pouring additional water over the can as needed so that it remains completely covered in water throughout the cooking process. Stop cooking process after 4-5 hours and allow can and water to cool down completely. Remove can from water once it reaches room temperature, dry it off, and open it with a can opener when you’re ready to use the dulce de leche.

 

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cherry chocolate almond cookies

Posted by on Aug 8, 2014 | 2 comments

cherry chocolate almond cookies

Here are some Cherry Chocolate Almond Cookies for you to enjoy…because everyone enjoys a cookie every now and then, right? Oh God, I hope so.

If you have something against cookies, well then maybe we just can’t be friends. I mean, there’s an essential difference between us and I doubt that we’ll ever be compatible in such basic and important aspects of life. And I don’t know about you, but I personally enjoy the combination of cherries + dark chocolate + almonds.  But that’s just me. I think we can still be friends if you’re not too fond of that flavor combination…just not best friends.

cherry chocolate almond cookies

Anyways speaking of chocolate, cherries, and general deliciousness, I have always been a dreamer…a big one. I’ve had too many dreams for my own good and that has gotten me in trouble sometimes, but it has also kept me motivated and interested in this thing we call “life”. I think life would be quite dull without them.

When I was in eighth grade, I dreamed of becoming a singer of a cool rock band…you know, kind of like Gwen Stefani. That made me pursue music for a little while. I was in chorus and in band class during high school and became maybe too proud when my music teacher once told me that I was, “a very musical person.” Anyways, what teenage girl doesn’t dream of being a strong musical figure at least once in their life time?

cherry chocolate almond cookies

When I was getting ready to choose a major in college I really wasn’t sure what I wanted to become and my dreams were all scattered and confused..I had to choose though so I made myself create a fake dream because like I said before, without a dream (even if it is a false one), I find it difficult to keep moving forward. I thought I wanted to be a photographer. Not a digital photographer. I wanted to keep it old school. I wanted to own my own dark room and make money by selling black and white prints made from film. I didn’t want to mess with digital cameras and I didn’t want to bother with Photoshop. Film was what mattered. That “dream” made me pursue a degree in visual media. And then…then the digital age completely took over and I lost all interest in the field.

And when I was a child, I dreamt of being an elementary school teacher. That was a real dream, not a fake one. I dreamt of having my own colorful classroom full of plants, activity centers, a reading rug, some sort of classroom pet (no, not an actual teacher’s pet, but a real pet. ie: a hamster, a lizard, a fish, etc.) That dream was subdued for sometime but then returned in my twenties. That dream was the motivator of me becoming a 4th grade teacher and then being accepted to an Education Masters program in Columbia University. I deferred my enrollment because I had other dreams that needed attention before I committed more fully to that one…That dream was pastry.

DSC_1229

So many interests. So many “dreams”.  Such a long journey. I’ve been so confused throughout the years in all the different directions I’ve taken. Unfortunately I haven’t been a person who has always been sure of what I wanted to be so I needed experience in several fields to feel confident when choosing “the one”. I’ve seen myself being many things. I’ve seen myself holding many professions and actually going far and beyond to hold those positions to see for myself what it feels to live and breathe being that; whether it’s a teacher, a photographer, a graphic designer, a cook, or a pastry chef.

And so now what? I’ve become the pastry chef of two sister restaurants in D.C. and have worked incredibly hard. I’m relatively “new” in the field as I have been working in the pastry world for about 3 years. I’m not a celebrity chef and I don’t want to be. (Truthfully, the PR companies kind of weird me out. Because of them and the world around them, I have new perspective on what to believe about what’s printed about celebrity chefs and other topics. But the “don’t believe everything you read” issue has happened with all forms of topics and media coverage for as long as we can remember in all fields).

cherry chocolate almond cookies

Luckily, all these years of experimentation and “dating around” have given me more confidence in choosing pastry as my one and only. I’m no longer asking myself, “But what if baking cakes for a living is what brings me happiness in the end?” I’m not asking myself that question anymore because now I know for a fact that it does. Out of all the other candidates, pastry, you are the winner and I’m pretty excited with the future plans that we will hopefully share together.

cherry chocolate almond cookies
 
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Author:
Serves: about 34 small cookies
Ingredients
  • 6 oz (3/4 cup) butter, room temperature
  • 4 oz (1/2 cup) sugar
  • 4 oz (1/2 cup) light brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon almond extract
  • 8 oz (2 cups) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup chopped dark chocolate
  • ½ cup sliced almonds
  • 1½ cups chopped dried sour cherries
  • ¼ cup melted dark chocolate, optional
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper and set them aside.
  2. Combine butter with sugars and beat on medium speed until light and fluffy with the paddle attachment.
  3. Meanwhile, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl. Whisk to combine and set aside.
  4. Reduce speed on mixer to low. Add egg, vanilla extract, and almond extract, and beat until well-mixed. Scrape sides of bowl and stir to incorporate everything together.
  5. Add dry ingredients and mix until flour incorporates well into the mixture.
  6. Add dark chocolate, sliced almonds, and dried sour cherries. Mix until just combined.
  7. Drop heaping tablespoon-size balls of dough about 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets.
  8. Bake for about 8 to 10 minutes, until cookies are brown around the edges but still soft in the center. Remove from oven, and let cool completely.
  9. Drizzle stripes of melted dark chocolate over the baked cookies if desired. Store cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for 5-7 days.

 

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almond granola

Posted by on Jul 21, 2014 | 0 comments

 

granola

Today I’m mad at the world. Not only am I pissed off, I’m also discouraged and saddened when I look around. Sometimes I feel hopeless. Do you feel that way too sometimes? Don’t feel bad if you do. It’s almost impossible not to.

Yes, I know I’m begin extremely cynical right now. After all, the sun is shining, the birds are chirping, and I’m not homeless or ill. Things could be much worse after all.

And guess what? They are. They really, really, are.

granola

Commercial airplanes are being shot down, children are being bombarded (on beaches now?!?), stupid and psychotic parents are leaving their toddlers in hot cars, terrorists and radical groups are still wanting to exterminate us all, etc, etc. And Gaza…I mean, I’m just going to go ahead and say this, can the Middle East just please get along for once? In fact, can we all get along?

 granola

I know it’s not that easy, we all have our differences and our deep-rooted beliefs, but when it comes down to it, my simple and pragmatic mind (okay, I’ll admit that it’s not always such a logical mind) tells me that whatever the issue may be, it’s not worth the lives of thousands of people. Figure it out already and stop being selfish, assholes! Stop killing your fellow human!

granola

But wait…I’m not done venting yet. I feel a little better, but I’m not all the way purified from all evil of the world…

granola

Health insurance…Oh my lord, where do I start? Okay, I’ll admit it. I’m not the best person at keeping up with current events, but I don’t have to read the New York Times on a daily basis or hear the president’s Obamacare speeches to tell you that the health system in this nation is truly backwards and borderline useless. I have my own personal experience to know that it just sucks, as I’m sure you may have your own experience as well. Medical care is a human right and necessity, but it’s just a corrupted business in this country.

granola

And last but not least…Yep, I think it’s happened. I may have finally reached my limit of stupidly rude people. People who are obviously bitter and unhappy with their existence and try to make others around them feel just as miserable as they’re feeling.People who don’t acknowledge you when they see you, because somewhere in their little brains, they don’t think that you are worthy of being acknowledged or noticed. People who talk to you in a condescending manner because somewhere in their little rat brains, they are programmed to believe that they are better than you. “Hey, guess what douche? You’re not better than me, but if it makes your day, you can believe that you are.”

granola

Okay, I’m done for now. Anyways, here is some yummy almond granola that will make all of this mess a little bit better, especially if you mix it with some deliciously thick greek yogurt, honey, and fresh berries.

Oh yes, things are already looking brighter.

Thank goodness.

almond granola
 
Prep time
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Author:
Ingredients
  • 53 grams (1/3 cup + 2 tablespoons) old-fashioned oats
  • 43 grams (1/3 cup + 1 teaspoon) slivered almonds
  • 18 grams (2 tablespoons) rye
  • 1½ teaspoons light brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon allspice
  • 1½ teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • ¾ teaspoon vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Toss oats, slivered almonds, rye, light brown sugar, salt, spices, oil, honey, maple syrup, and vanilla extract in a large bowl.
  3. Spread out on prepared baking sheet and bake, tossing every 5 minutes or so, until crisp and golden, for about 18-20 minutes.
  4. Let cool completely. Serve with yogurt and fresh or dried fruit.

 

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