Even Better

alfajores

I had to fend for myself for a few days, while my family were up the coast on holidays. I missed out on going with them because my deadlines week at college happened to coincide with their already-booked week away. I promised myself that I would eat good home-cooked food, because when you’re busy trying to finish projects and only cooking for yourself, it is tempting to take the easy/lazy option and either order a pizza or subsist on only two-minute noodles. Cooking for one is very different to cooking for four, which I usually do. It felt strange to cook so little! I ended up with leftovers of almost everything, but it was nice to have food in the fridge for lunch the next day.

Luckily, I had a good friend come to stay towards the end of the week, so I didn’t go completely mad in my solitude. We had a variety of food-based adventures, since I seem to navigate Sydney purely via coffee shops, and she’d seen The Bridge already. It was so nice to have someone to share things like this with, because sometimes it seems like all my best friends live far away. I think food always tastes better with the people you like.

zumbo

We took a ferry to Balmain and visited Adriano Zumbo’s famous patisserie; above you can see a tangy and delicious passionfruit tartlet, a salted butter caramel mille-feuille and two varieties of macaron, because we couldn’t help ourselves. We had Sunday brunch at the Bourke St Bakery, or more accurately in the little park opposite (and then went back to try the strawberry vanilla brulée and lemon curd tartlets). On Monday we headed across the road to The Book Kitchen, where the walls are lined with cookbooks. I loved the coffee and the very nice day menu, I can’t wait to go back for lunch one day! For breakfast I had the date and fig pikelets, which were gorgeous, fluffy and studded with hidden surprises. The accompanying poached pear and rhubarb was the perfect match, and just wonderful with the creamy vanilla ricotta. I have it on good authority that their scrambled eggs on sourdough were a winner too.

We also sampled South American ice cream from a place that has recently opened up within walking distance of home, called Patagonia. The dulce de leche ice cream was fantastic, and inspired me to try Alfajores: cookies sandwiched with dulce de leche. I read last November in the(sydney)magazine, about a bakery in Fairfield that does the best Alfajores in Sydney, but it’s closed for renovations at the moment, so I decided to try making my own.

I was slightly concerned by the warnings on the can that it might explode, so I did some research and found that many had success with poking a few holes in the top of the can. The dulce de leche was incredible, I couldn’t help but sneak spoonfuls whenever I went past the kitchen. I’m not sure how traditional my Alfajores are, but I loved them. They reminded me, in a way, of the biscuits in the very first photo I uploaded to Flickr, but with a tastier cookie and creamier filling, these were even better.

Addresses

Adriano Zumbo
296 Darling St, Balmain

Bourke St Bakery
Corner of Bourke St and Devonshire St, Surry Hills and 130 Broadway (next to Kinkos)

The Book Kitchen
255 Devonshire St, Surry Hills

Patagonia (South American Ice Cream)
231 Coogee Bay Road, Coogee and 55 Smart St, Fairfield

Alfajores
Adapted from Australian Gourmet Traveller
Makes about 25 sandwiched cookies

• 100g unsalted butter, cold, coarsely chopped
• 150g caster sugar
• 1 egg + 1 egg yolk
• 1 cup plain flour
• 150g cornflour
• 1 teaspoon baking powder

Dulce De Leche
• 1 can sweetened condensed milk, label removed

1. To make dulce de leche, make a few small holes in the lid of the can with a can opener. Place in a heavy bottomed pot. Fill with water to just under the top of the can. Simmer for 3 – 4 hours, ensuring that there is always enough water to cover the can. Allow to cool in the water, before opening the can and spooning out the contents. It should be light caramel coloured. Allow to cool completely.
2. Process butter and caster sugar in a food processor until pale and creamy. Add egg and egg yolk and pulse to combine.
3. Sift the flour, cornflour and baking powder together and add to food processor. Pulse until just combined, then form dough into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
4. Preheat the oven to 180°C (355°F) and line an oven tray or two with baking paper.
5. Roll out chilled dough on a lightly floured surface to 5mm thick. Using a 3cm round cookie-cutter, cut rounds and place 5cm apart on the oven tray. Bake for 12-25 minutes, or until lightly golden. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
6. To assemble, sandwich two biscuits together with 1 teaspoon of dulce de leche in the middle.

10 Comments on “Even Better”

  1. Robin

    I’ve never made dulce de leche with the in-can version, I’m too scared of it exploding… but I’m glad to see it worked out for you!

  2. Lisa

    Robin, if you empty the can of condensed milk into a heatproof bowl, and set it over a pot of simmering water you’ll get the same result. Whisk it every now and then, and check to make sure the water in the pot doesn’t boil dry, or it will just burn. It’s also a good way to get the exact colour and consistency you want, since you can’t see inside the can!

  3. toontz

    I made a version of these for one of my daughters for a school project. They were so tasty! I got to sample one before I sent them off—quality control, of course 😉 I was so disappointed that she didn’t bring any of them back. I guess the middle-schoolers loved them, too. I couldn’t find the dulce de leche in a can anywhere in the vicinity, but had some good friends that were from Mexico. They had something similar that they bought frequently and kept in their refrigerator. They graciously offered it to me for her (my) project. Thank goodness, as it was due the next day, as usual. She (I) received an “A”. lol

  4. Lisa

    Wish I had assignments like that! I’m so glad you liked them, congrats too on the A 🙂 They were a big hit with everyone at my place too!

  5. İLKAY

    Hi !!!
    Again me::))
    I like your photo…its wonderfull…also your cookies are lovely…

    ilkay

    if you like my foods and like to know ı can translate to English…

  6. Lisa

    Patricia, thank you! I am looking forward to trying what are apparently ‘the best alfajores in Sydney’ right on my doorstep!

    Ilkay, thank you very much 🙂

    Tartelette, I am looking forward to using dulce de leche in other ways now too, it’s divine!

    Chocolatesuze, I think the macarons were raspberry (and perhaps rose) and passionfruit, but I don’t recall them actually being labelled in the shop. I liked the yellow one better, it had a nice tang to balance the sweetness.

    Té la mà maria, thanks for stopping by!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *