I was cruising around the internet a couple of months ago and I read about something called Dulce de Leche in a jar. I don’t remember where I saw it or even what the recipe was, but I stored it away in the back of my mind and then didn’t remember it until I saw a jar of it in one of my favorite stores, World Market. I went ahead and bought it because…well…as I said, I had stored away the memory of it in the back of my brain. I thought I would just take it home and it would speak to me about what I should do about it.
You are probably thinking, “Why didn’t she just hand it over to Yes!Chef! and say, ‘make something magic with this'”. I thought about that myself and when I brought it home I said something like, “Look what I found at World Market!!!”. He didn’t know what it was and really had no interest in it. I think I’ve mentioned before that he stays away from desserts because he had a bad experience with the first one he ever made (over 30 years ago.) I was on my own for this one.
Meanwhile, some longtime friends of ours visited us from the Los Angeles area. They stayed for the weekend. We are always happy to see them, and so I made some plans to go to a lovely restaurant in Plymouth, called Taste, for dinner on Saturday night. (Maybe I will say something about that little gem of a restaurant in another post.) The next day we took them over to the charming town of Murphys, in Calaveras County (think Mark Twain and the Jumping Frog.) We met my daughter, her fiance and a couple of her friends and spent the day wandering around the town, tasting wine and enjoying each other’s company.
The drive to Murphys from our house was about 1 1/2 hours or so thru beautiful farmland, quaint towns and vineyards. My friends have a Bentley, so we traveled in style.
We finally arrived in Murphys and the kids were already there. So we strolled thru town and found some wineries and some interesting things for my picture snapping habits.
Calaveras is famous for Mark Twain’s “Jumping Frog Contest of Calaveras County”, so there is an ongoing theme of frogs wherever you go. Murphys is a quaint, small town and it is fun to walk up one side of Main Street and back down the other. There are upscale retail outlets, wine tasting venues and restaurants along with older businesses, hotels and touristy type places, too.
Everyone in our group was over the age of 21, so we were able to taste a few wines.
We found a little winery in the basement of an old hotel with a wonderful courtyard, so we bought a bottle of wine or two, sat out in the courtyard and enjoyed the beautiful weather. It was an idyllic day with a great group of people.
We ended the day back at the Schmautzhaus and Yes!Chef! made his famous meatloaf for us all. And, I will also confess that the kids challenged me to drink a shot of a liquor of my choosing with them. Most of them didn’t think I would take up the challenge. In fact, I haven’t had a shot of pure liquor since the 80’s and I didn’t think I could do it again. But after many negotiations and dares, I grabbed a shot glass, called Johnny Walker Red for my liquor of choice and we all bellied up to the bar. It was fun, but I may not do that again for another 30 years.
After my friends went back home and things calmed down a bit, I set about the business of finding a good idea for my Dulce de Leche spread. I reviewed lots of different recipes until I saw one that used the spread with a shortbread cookie. Bingo! Why not make a little Dulce de Leche filled shortbread cookie?
I used a standard shortbread cookie recipe, but did not include the nuts that you normally find in the cookies.
Shortbread is easy to make and not very sweet. I thought it would be the perfect backdrop for the Dulce de Leche. Then there was the problem of how to fill the cookies. First I tried making a ball of shortbread, poking a finger size hole in it, filling it with the spread and then closing it up. The problem of closing it up was more daunting than I envisioned. The spread kept squeezing out when I tried to close the hole. Then I tried a little patch over the hole. Uh uh. Didn’t work very well. Finally I flattened out two little balls of shortbread dough, made a little closed sandwich out of them with the spread in between and rolled that into a ball. If you can think of a better way, let me know.
I baked up the cookies and then sprinkled some powdered sugar over the cookies when I pulled them out of the oven.
Now, I will admit that these cookies are not the prettiest cookies in the world, but they are very tasty and satisfying.
Finger Licking Good.
Here’s the recipe:
Cook Time: 16-18 minutes
Serving Size: 24 cookies
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- prepared dulce de leche spread
- Powdered sugar for dusting
- chopped pecans for sprinkling on top
- Sea Salt for sprinkling on top
Preheat oven to 350°. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
Stir together flour and salt. Set aside.
Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat butter, cream cheese, and sugar until light and fluffy (about 3 minutes). Scrape down sides of bowl. Add vanilla and mix for about 1 minute.
Reduce mixer speed to low and add flour mixture. Blend briefly and then finish stirring by hand with a spatula or large spoon until well combined.
Scoop out about 1 Tbs. of dough and roll into a ball. Flatten into a disk and place on prepared baking sheets. Repeat with remaining cookie dough, making sure that you make an even amount of dough patties. Place about 1/2-1 teaspoon of prepared Dulce de Leche spread on every other patty. Place a naked dough patty on top of the filled patty and pinch together until the spread is enclosed between the two dough patties. You can either leave as is, or gently roll into a ball. Place cookie ball on baking sheet leaving an inch between cookies.
Bake each pan 16-18 minutes, or until edges are lightly brown. Transfer cookies to wire racks to cool completely. Sprinkle with powdered sugar.
One more tiny thing you might want to try. Take about 1/2 cup of prepared Dulce de Leche and heat up on medium power in microwave until it is melted. Watch it carefully. It will probably only take about 15-20 seconds. Stir in about 1 or 2 tablespoons of heavy cream until it is drizzling capable. Chop up some pecans. Now, take two or three of the little cookie gems and stack them up on a pretty little plate.
Put out your little bowls of the warm Dulce de Leche and Cream mixture along with a bowl of chopped nuts and a bowl or spoonful of flaky sea salt.
Drizzle with the Dulce de Leche mixed with the cream. Sprinkle with the chopped pecans and little bit of Sea Salt.
Watch it disappear.
You might need to add a bit more Dulce de Leche as you go along. Go ahead. You can start your diet tomorrow.
Don’t forget to lick the spoon.
And here is Yes!Chef! thinking maybe he can be a photographer (with my new camera) since I took over the cooking duties this time.