Dulce de Leche Cookies

I told you it would be sticky.

Dulce de Leche Cookies 7

I made these for a coworker’s birthday (oh how quickly I have fallen yet again into the baking trap!) and they were very well-received.

Dulce de Leche Cookies 24

If you already have dulce de leche on hand, good on you (I’m especially amazed that you didn’t use it all up pouring it into your mouth because that’s kind of what I do). If you don’t, I’ll show you a super easy and pretty much fool-proof way to make it. Grab a can or two of condensed milk. For this recipe you will barely use half a can but if you want some more on hand for other things, you might as well make it all at once because it takes for ever.

Dulce de Leche Cookies 1

Peel off the paper. You’re going to be boiling these so you don’t want that paper in there getting all gummy.

Dulce de Leche Cookies 3

Grab a large pot and fill it with water. Plop the can(s) in on their sides (so they can roll around and cook evenly). Ensure that they are covered completely with at least an inch of water. Bring the water to a boil and then let it simmer for 3 hours. You will likely need to top up the water occasionally so it’s always covering the cans. If the cans become expose then the whole convection element of the water stops working and the cans could explode. You don’t want that.

Dulce de Leche Cookies 4

After three hours, carefully remove the cans from the boiling water and set them upright on a rack to cool completely. Do not under any circumstances attempt to open a can while it is hot. You will be covered in horrible caramel burns as a result and that is a good way to ruin a nice day.

Dulce de Leche Cookies 5

Once it’s cool, you can make some amazing cookies, which I actually found on the Land o’ Lakes site. Those people know things about butter, which makes them my kind of people.

Dulce de Leche Cookies 8

Start by stirring up a bowl with 1/3 cup granulated sugar, 3/4 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, and 1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom. Set that aside. Your cookies are going to wear that later.

Dulce de Leche Cookies 9

Now, in the bowl of a mixer, beat up 1/2 cup softened butter with 3/4 cup packed brown sugar.

Dulce de Leche Cookies 10

Tip in 1 egg and 2 teaspoons vanilla and keep beating until smooth.

Dulce de Leche Cookies 11

In a separate bowl, whisk together 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, and 1/2 teaspoon baking powder.

Dulce de Leche Cookies 12

While mixing the egg/butter/sugar madness, slowly add in the flour and stir until fully combined.

Dulce de Leche Cookies 13

Separate about 1/4 of the cookie dough from the bowl. Chill both blobs of dough for about 30 minutes.

When you’re ready, preheat your oven to 375°F and line some baking sheets with parchment paper. Grab from the larger blob and make 24 balls of dough. Set the balls onto the baking sheet at least 2 inches apart, because they do spread.

Dulce de Leche Cookies 15

Dip the handle of a wooden spoon into flour and drive it into the center of each ball so that there’s a good-sized divot in each.

Dulce de Leche Cookies 16

Pile about 1/4 cup dulce de leche into a small resealable plastic bag and snip off a bit of one of the bottom corners.

Dulce de Leche Cookies 14

Pipe the caramel into each divot until the caramel comes level with the top of the hole.

Dulce de Leche Cookies 18//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

Dulce de Leche Cookies 19

Now grab your smaller blob of dough and divide it into 24 equal pieces. Flatten each piece into a patty and use it to seal over the top of the caramel hole.

Dulce de Leche Cookies 20

Smooth down the edges to get a good seal.

Dulce de Leche Cookies 21

Bake, rotating halfway through, for 9-11 minutes, until the edges are slightly browned.

Dulce de Leche Cookies 23

Let the cookies stand on the sheet for 1 minute, then dip them in the sugar until thoroughly covered and leave them to cool completely on a wire rack.

Dulce de Leche Cookies 26

I don’t know how well these store because they didn’t last that long …

Dulce de Leche Cookies 28

WOOO! It’s Ali Does It Herself’s 500th Post! And we’re making CAKE!

500 Cake 26

So on the 15th day of March, 2010, I caved to peer pressure (*ahem*, Kª), and I started this blog.  Ali Does It … Herself.  That sounded about right.  The Pie and I try to be as self-sufficient as possible, and having been raised by very DIY-oriented parents, I figured I might as well start telling the world about my own experiments in grown-up living.  Five hundred (!) posts later, we’re still going strong.  Ali Does It has been featured THREE times on WordPress’s Freshly Pressed page, twice on FoodPress.com, and last year won third place in both the Canadian Weblog Awards and the Canadian Blog Awards competitions.  I’m so grateful for the 1600+ subscribers who visit regularly and for everyone who has come to see and read in the past almost-three years.  If you’re reading this, then thank you so much for coming!

It’s amazing what this blogging experience has taught me to do.  Previously, I cooked, and fixed stuff, and did crafty things, and I was pretty good at it, but I never really tried to venture too far out of my comfort zone.  Now, if someone sends me a message saying, “do you know how to do this?”, my answer is usually “why yes!” (ha. rarely), or “no, but I’ll figure it out.”  And then I do.   It’s very empowering to know that doing stuff on your own is not as scary as you think it is.  The internet (and my parents) are very good teachers.

500 Cake 25

My very first post was about cake — wedding cupcakes, to be specific.  And if you’ll look below, you can see all the other posts I have made about cake and cupcakes since then (not to mention the posts about cookies, and brownies, and knitting, and sewing …).  In commemoration of that, I think I’ll make another cake!

500 Cake 29

I’ve been brainstorming with the Pie and our friends about what to create for this particular occasion, but they’ve been absolutely useless.  They keep suggesting that I make a cake THAT I’VE ALREADY MADE.  What would be the point of that?  Well, it’s not called Ali Does It on the Advice of All the People She Knows, after all, so I started thinking about what *I* wanted.  Something a little bit fun, not too big, not too complicated, but a wee bit different. And something that I have made up all by myself. So here goes.

500 Cake 28

What about a berry cake?  I want something pink.  And I have a temptingly large container of partridgeberries in my freezer, which I picked up from Bidgood’s in the Goulds over the summer. If you know anything about this place, you’ll know that Bidgood’s is where you go to get stuff like this. That same day we picked up moose burgers and a rabbit pie. Both excellent.

500 Cake 1

Now, I’m making this into a layer cake with icing, but you could easily skip the cutting and frosting and have it as a nice coffee cake. It’s a versatile little thing, and it will freeze beautifully, unfrosted. So. Take your favourite 9″ x 13″ baking pan/casserole dish and butter it generously. Plop a sheet of parchment in the middle and butter that, too. It will just make it easier to get the cake out in one piece. Preheat your oven to 375°F while you’re at it.

500 Cake 5

Grab yourself some partridgeberries.  You’ll probably only find them frozen, but if you’re in a part of the world where they come fresh, then more power to you.  If you don’t know what a partridgeberry is, it looks like a small cranberry, but isn’t as tart.  You may know it better as a lingonberry or a cowberry.  You could substitute other berries in this recipe, obviously.  If you go the cranberry route, though, I’d add a bit more sugar.  Anyway, you’ll want about 2 cups partridgeberries for this cake.

DSCN4429

Plop them in a pan with about a tablespoon lemon juice and 1/2 cup granulated sugar, and stew on medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the berries are thawed and juices are running everywhere.  Pop a few with the back of your spoon to increase the juiciness, and remove from the heat so they cool down a bit.

500 Cake 4

In a large bowl, cream together 1 cup butter with 2 cups granulated sugar.

500 Cake 6

Add in 6 eggs, one at a time.

500 Cake 7

Then jump in your stewed berries, along with 1 cup sour cream.

500 Cake 9

Almost ready — now, a little bit at a time, stir in 3 cups all-purpose flour and 1 teaspoon baking soda.

500 Cake 10

Smooth your batter into your prepared pan.  I love that delicate pink colour.  Too bad it never lasts through the baking without artificial boosts — blech.

DSCN4439

Bake your cake on the middle rack for about 45 minutes to an hour, depending on your oven.  Mine took 47 minutes.  Place it on a rack to cool, and when it’s cooled enough to tip out, let it cool completely on a rack before frosting.

500 Cake 12

A note on frosting:

Now, you don’t HAVE to frost your cake.  That is entirely up to you.  But I’m going all out here, and I feel that fruits like this need a bit of cream cheese in the frosting to make me super happy.  If you’re going to layer this cake, make the full amount of frosting I’ve set out here.  If you’re just going to frost the top, then make about 1/3 to 1/2 of the amount laid out below.  And if you want a non-chocolate version (also yummy), substitute vanilla for the Kahlua and leave out the cocoa.

500 Cake 16

In a large bowl, beat together 1 cup butter and 1 250g package plain cream cheese.  Make sure both of them are soft but not melty.

500 Cake 13

Tip in about 5 tablespoons powdered cocoa together with 1 tablespoon Kahlua (or other coffee/chocolate liqueur of your choice) and mix that in thoroughly.  Once you get that in, add about 3 1/2 cups confectioner’s (icing) sugar.  You may need more or less depending on your preference.  Beat that to a pulp.

500 Cake 14

Then pour in 1 cup cream, whipping cream if you’ve got it.  Or leave it out, if you want a frosting that is a bit stiffer.  Lovely.  Chuck that in the fridge to chill while you wait for your cake to cool.

500 Cake 15

Then I simply cut the cake in half down the middle, like so.

DSCN4451

Then cut each half horizontally so I had four slabs of cake.  Slather on some icing between layers, plop the next one on, rinse, repeat.

500 Cake 19

It reminds me of a massive peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

500 Cake 20

I didn’t bother with a crumb coat when doing the outside, and I didn’t really go to too much trouble getting the icing all perfect (because I really don’t roll that way, don’t you know that by now?).

500 Cake 22

I think I have laundry on the brain — I seem to do it often enough.  It’s not quite the celebratory bunting you were expecting, eh? Fitting, though.

500 Cake 21

Thanks for seeing me through 500 posts as I learn to be a grown-up.  Here’s to 500 more!

500 Cake 23

Thirty-Four other posts about CAKE (brownies, bars, and other eatables and noneatables not included, but feel free to use the search function on the sidebar to find whatever you want!):

Dulce de Leche Cheesecake

DSCN3605

Would you believe me if I told you that I have never made a cheesecake before?  It’s true.  I told Fussellette that the other day and she nearly drove off the road.  Oh sure, I’ve made one of those no-bake “cheese cake” confections, and something wrapped in pastry, but it’s not the same.

DSCN3565

But I had all those gluten-free almond cookies still lying around — remember, the ones that were dry as a bone?  I figured the best use for them would be to make them into nice stale crumbs, and maybe chuck them in a cheesecake.  And so my first experience with cheesecake began.

DSCN3567

I went to the Kraft website and picked up the recipe there, because the makers of cream cheese seemed to have the recipe at its most simplest, with fewest additions, and that’s the way I like things to be.  This recipe needs only condensed milk, sugar, eggs, butter, cream cheese, and cookie crumbs.  And my cellphone, because that’s where I access my recipes while I wait for my new computer to arrive (the old one died in a horrible, agonizingly slow way).

DSCN3561

Start by preheating your oven to 425°F.  In a 9″ pie pan, pour the contents of one 300mL can of condensed milk.

DSCN3564

Cover it with foil and set it in a larger baking dish.  Pour in some boiling water so that the milk is in a nice water bath.  Bake that sucker for an hour.

DSCN3568

I may have forgotten to check mine and overcooked it.  But whatever.  I like the spots.  Adds texture.  Remove the milk from the water bath and whisk it up until it’s smooth.  Voila, dulce de leche.  You can also just buy this from a store if you wish.

DSCN3574

Pull out 1/2 cup of the sauce and put it aside to cool, probably about an hour.  Refrigerate the rest once it’s cool.

DSCN3575

When your sauce is cool (or at the very least, just slightly warm), preheat your oven again to 350°F this time.  Spray the inside of a springform pan with cooking spray.

Melt 1/4 cup butter and mix it with 1 1/4 cups cookie crumbs.  Press those into the bottom of the springform pan.

DSCN3571

In the bowl of a mixer, combine 3 (250g) packages room temperature plain cream cheese with 1/2 cup sugar, and beat until well-combined.  Remember that the warmer your cream cheese is, the less lumpy it will be.

DSCN3577

Take the 1/2 cup of dulce de leche sauce and add that to the cream cheese mix.  With the mixer on low, add in 3 eggs, one at a time, and mix until just combined.

DSCN3578

Pour into the springform pan and shake gently to level the top and loosen any bubbles.

Bake that puppy for 40-45 minutes, or until the centre is almost set.  It’s very important not to open the oven door during baking, as the sudden temperature change could cause the thing to crack.  Of course, the Pie didn’t know this and tossed in a piece of pizza to heat up.  I wouldn’t let him take it out again, and so he had to wait 16 minutes for his now extra crispy slice and I was formally allowed to blame any cracks in the cheesecake firmly on him.

Fussellette tells me you should cool your cheesecake in the oven, just like you do with meringues.  I put mine in a draftless room, which is what the recipe said.  It still cracked, but I’m going to blame that on the Pie.  While it’s cooling, make sure to run a knife around the edges to loosen it. Leave it in the pan until it’s totally cool, and then refrigerate it for at least an hour before serving.

DSCN3597

Before serving, warm up the extra dulce de leche sauce and drizzle it over top.  I am too lazy to keep reheating it every time I want a slice so I just poured mine over the top in a nice little circle.  So very tasty!

DSCN3600

DSCN3603