Thursday, September 22, 2011

Chilean Independence Dinner--La Tercera

La Tercera is a newspaper in Chile... it means 'The Third,' literally.  It is not be confused with 'La Quarta,' which is a bit more lighthearted... Here is a great headline of theirs.  I had to put that on my FB wall, it's classic.  It says 'REM broke up... and it's not the end of the world'.  At the end it says 'and we feel fine.'  Classic, seriously!  Don't get me wrong, I like REM and in the 90s I was all about their music.  I just think it was a well written article, and I love me some good jokes... I guess this qualifies as a quasi-pun, eh?  And now this is old news... as I wrote this yesterday and am posting (rather late) today.

So back to the recipe.  In this final installment of 'let's veganize dieciocho dammit' I present you with a lovely dessert.  
MMMmmm.. alfajor... See, we've both learned two things today by reading this.  REM broke up and that alfajores are a traditional Arabic confection and what I was noshing on in my childhood was a Chilean variation.  I mean really, I had no clue!  Little bits of useless trivia... one day that might come in handy at a knowledge bowl (aren't I too old to participate? Maybe I'll submit it as a potential question, BAM!)

So, enough of that.  Below find my recipe for the oh-so-easy and delicious alfajor.  It's easy in that a lot of it is waiting time, so it's the perfect dessert to make while other stuff is happening... like empanadas and pastel de choclo... Not trying to tell you what to do or anything.  This is a two-part recipe: you need to make the cookie and also the manjar/caramel center.

3-4 servings, 2 cookies each and equally measured manjar per cookie sandwich.

For cookies:
2/3 cup flour
4 tsp confectioner's sugar
1/4 cup margarine or vegetable shortening

For manjar:
1 cup milk
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp baking soda

1. Heat oven to 350F.
2. Sift flour and conf. sugar together in a large bowl.  Rub the margarine into the flour until completely incorporated.
3. If you feel the consistency is safe to bring on a rolling pin, then roll out to about 1/4" thick and then cut into circles with a small round cookie cutter (or glass...).
Otherwise, just use your hands to grab a small amount, roll into a ball and flatten.  I went with option B this time.  The first time I was able to roll it out.  Go figure, must have been the humidity...
4. Place cookies on an ungreased cookie sheet and poke twice with a fork.  A step I neglected above.
5. Bake in the heated oven for about 8-10 minutes.  Discs should be removed from the oven while still pale--THEY SHOULD NOT BROWN.  Cool completely on a wire rack.
This is them out of the oven, I flipped over three of them to show that even though they looked unbaked on top, the bottoms were already browning.  They're a lot like shortbread.

Meanwhile, make the manjar...

1. Bring the milk, sugar and vanilla to a boil.
2. Reduce heat to med-low and continue cooking, continuously stirring until milk as thickened.  Could take about 20 minutes.  And no, you don't have to stir the whole time.  Stir frequently though.  It should start turning a caramel color.
3. Stir in the baking soda and continue cooking until the milk has reached a pudding-like consistency.  Pour manjar into a small ramekin or bowl and let it cool completely in the fridge.


1.  Take a cookie and lay it pale side out/down.
2. Scoop out some manjar.  If it has hardened too much in the fridge then nuke it about 10 seconds to soften it back up (TWSS)
3. So, you're scooping the manjar into the center of the cookie.  Approximate center works too (see below for an illustration of taking your own photos whilst trying to drip caramel onto a cookie...)
4. Top with the other cookie, pale side out to match.
5. Sprinkle with powdered sugar!

or... if you're ambitious... coat in melted chocolate...
That was not me, but one day I will ;-)

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