Dulce de leche cookies. (Ricardo DeAratanha / Los…)
Zaira Angelo of Pomona was one of the 10 winners of last year's Los Angeles Times Holiday Cookie Bake-Off with her dulce de leche cookies:
"This recipe is kind of a mash-up between my mom and me. My mom makes dulce de leche every year, the real stuff, you cook it forever and reduce it down. It's a candy that's really popular in Mexico. And I just thought, 'What if I didn't cook it quite as long and then used that as a filling?' So she had the dulce de leche and I had the cookie, and this is what we came up with. It's something we make every Christmas. I stand around and chat with my mom and my aunts, and we cook and stir and stir and stir. There's no shortcuts and no cheating. My mom wouldn't allow that."
Dulce de leche cookies are one of the favorite recipes we've collected in our updated "Los Angeles Times Holiday Cookies" e-book. The cookbook now includes 65 recipes from a wide range of sources including world-famous pastry chefs, favorite bakeries and home cooks. And check out the favorite holiday recipes we've collected in our "Los Angeles Times Holiday Handbook." The book shares more than 110 seasonal recipes to help you celebrate Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas and New Year's.
Each book is $4.99. They are available at the Los Angeles Times bookstore for Kindle, Nook and iBooks.
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Dulce de leche cookies
Total time: 2 hours, 25 minutes, plus chilling and cooling times
Servings: Makes about 2½ dozen (2-inch) sandwich cookies
Note: Adapted from a recipe by Zaira Angelo.
Dulce de leche
3 cups whole milk
1½ cups sugar
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch of salt
1. In a medium, heavy-bottom pot, combine the milk, sugar and cinnamon over medium heat, stirring very gently with a wooden spoon. Once the sugar dissolves, stir in the baking soda and salt. Continue to cook, stirring very gently, until the mixture is thickened and creamy, about 1 hour. Do not allow the milk to boil over the pan (mostly because this will create a huge mess). When the mixture is thickened and resembles a caramel sauce, remove the pan from the heat; the dulce de leche is ready. This makes about 1½ cups dulce de leche; more than is needed for the remainder of the recipe. The dulce de leche will keep, covered and refrigerated, up to 10 days.
Shortbread cookies and assembly
1 cup (2 sticks) softened butter
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
About 2¾ cups (12 ounces) flour
Dulce de leche
1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. In the bowl of a stand mixer using the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl using a hand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in the vanilla, then the flour a little at a time until incorporated.
2. Form the dough into a disk, cover and chill for 15 minutes.
3. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to a thickness of one-fourth inch. Cut the dough into fun shapes using cookie cutters. Bake the cookies on cookie sheets until lightly browned, 12 to 14 minutes (timing will vary depending on size and shape).
4. Cool the cookies for 5 minutes, then spread the dulce de leche over the tops of half of the cookies; cover each half with another half to create a sandwich. Cool the cookies completely, or until the dulce de leche is set.
Each of 2½ dozen sandwich cookies: 149 calories; 2 grams protein; 21 grams carbohydrates; 0 fiber; 7 grams fat; 4 grams saturated fat; 18 mg cholesterol; 12 grams sugar; 22 mg sodium.