Today is a double holiday!
We are celebrating Cinco de Mayo and my name day. I guess it is not such a rare coincidence that I have been named after the Goddess of Peace and one of my favorite towns in Mexico is called La Paz.
In La Paz, in the local panaderia Karla, I tasted polvorónes for a first time and I loved them. Polvorónes are crumbly shortbread cookies enriched with finely ground nuts and dusted with powdered sugar. Polvo is the Spanish word for dust.
Because of the double holiday, I decided to make double cookies with cajeta de leche filling. For the polvorónes, I used the dough from the Hungarian Shortbread recipe with added almonds and vanilla.
Cajeta de Leche is the Mexican version of Dulce de Leche. It is a thick caramel sauce made out of milk and sugar. When alcohol, such as dry sherry, madeira, or dry white wine to name a few, is added to the cajeta, it is called cajeta envinada. Dried fruits and nuts could also boost the richness of the cajeta.
This recipe is for Cajeta de Leche Envinada Especial and it has the goodness of caramel, almonds, and marsala wine. It could be eaten with a spoon straight out of the jar or to make any type of sandwich cookies, as a topping for ice cream and crepes, as a layer in millionaire shortbread bars, Banofi pie, brownies…
¡Feliz Cinco de Mayo!
Cajeta de Leche Envinada Especial
Adapted from The Essential Cuisines of Mexico by Diana Kennedy
6 cups (1.5 L) milk
2 cups (400 gr) granulated sugar
1/8 tsp baking soda
3 egg yolks from large eggs
1/3 cup (70 g) almonds, blanched and finely ground
½ cup (125 mL) marsala wine
- Put the milk, sugar and baking soda in a large saucepan and place over medium heat.
- Bring the milk and sugar mixture to a boil and when the milk starts to foam up, stir the mixture with a wooden spoon. Continue to cook the milk, stirring frequently, for 30 min.
- Put ¾ cup of the milk and sugar mixture aside and cool to room temperature.
- Beat the egg yolks until creamy and add them to the cooled ¾ cup of the milk-sugar mixture.
- Continue boiling the rest of the milk mixture until it becomes thick, sticky and caramel colored. As it thickens, stir the mixture continuously or it will stick to the pan. This should take around 30 – 60 minutes. You might need to adjust the temperature – the milk should be at a low rolling boil at all times. The longer you cook the milk, the darker it gets.
- Remove the milk and sugar mixture from the heat and add the egg mixture to the thickened milk, stirring all the time. Continue cooking the mixture over medium heat until it starts to come away from the sides and bottom of the pan. Remove from the heat.
- Stir in the almonds and marsala wine into the mixture. Let the cajeta cool before storing in the fridge in screw-top jars. It will keep indefinitely or depending on how often you open the jar and indulge.
- Prepare the dough using the same ingredients and technique as in the Hungarian Shortbread recipe. Add 1 cup of blanched and finely ground almonds and 2 teaspoons pure vanilla to the dough.
- Chill the dough in the fridge for 2 hours and roll it out to a ¼ inch thickness.
- Using a cookie cutter, cut out cookies of desired shapes and sizes. Work as quickly as you can, because the dough warms um very quickly.
- Transfer the cookies to a cookie sheet and refrigerate until firm to the touch, 30 min or so.
- Preheat the oven to 350F (180C) and position the rack in the middle. Bake the cookies for 12-15 min or until the cookies are golden in color.
- After the cookies cool, spread one cookie with the cajeta, place another cookie on top and dust with icing sugar.