For many of us cookies are as much an everyday treat as they are a special occasion tradition. Holiday cookies are no exception. Around the world there are cookies that mark the Christmas holiday ranging in flavors from Switzerland’s brunsli, Germany’s lebkuchen, Danish aebleskiver, Italian pizzelles, Czech kolacky, shortbread from Scotland. Mexico’s bicochos and Russian Snowballs and of course the ubiquitous, German in origination but somehow a taste strongly associated with the holiday gingerbread cookies.
For this edition of IMBB #10 Cookies hosted by Domestic Goddess we’re all about cookie swapping–holiday style.
I ended up in South America for this effort, specifically in Uruguay where there is a decidedly Italian influence on cooking and food preparation. Uruguayans love crusty bread, pasta and pizza. Uruguayans also drink strong espresso coffee from very small cups at coffee bars and enjoy an assortment of pastries and sweets.
It should come as no surprise to me that I first discovered alfajores in my neighborhood Italian coffee shop. But I was pleasantly enchanted by the delicate balance of shortbread tenderness and sexy sweetness of the filling–dulce de leche. This cookie treat is one of the most common cookies found throughout much of South America. People from Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Chile and Peru all claim them as their own.
The recipe calls for a surprising amount of cornstarch. This ingredient lowers the flour’s protein content, so the dough will have a weaker gluten formation, and as a result the cookies will be more tender.
I ran out of dulce de leche and had cookies left over so I created simple variations including filling the middle with Nutella (outstanding), peanut butter, and rose petal jam.