The nesting hormones have attacked with a fury. The only problem is we are in "spotless house showing mode", not "big project mode", so I am a momma bird without a proper nest. I can't repaint something, put in raised garden beds, retile the kitchen. Nothing. I can just clean and cook.
I have always loved cooking, trying new things. I volunteered to cook one night a week when I was probably in 8th or 9th grade, much to the dismay of my meat and potatoes eating dad. I made stir frys and pasta dishes, elaborate salads, but no matter what, I always had to bake a potato for dad.
Now I have a picky, meat and potato eatin' man of my own and a lot less time, so I have been trying to find some new motivation to get creative again with the cooking. So I have turned to the blogs, Smitten Kitchen (my favorite), 101 Cookbooks, Matt Bites, domicile, the Sassy Radish and more. There are so many great recipes out there and so many beautiful food blogs. Following a link trail on dulce de leche that started at Smitten Kitchen, I found a recipe for Alfajores, caramel sandwich cookies, at Matt Bites. I love caramel and I needed a treat to share at book club last night, oh, and I had all of the ingredients in the house. So, I dove in. The cookies were pretty easy to make and I was humming along. The only glitch was that I was trying to make delicate, little cookies and they kept puffing up more then I planned while baking. Oh well.
Then I went to start the dulce de leche... What? No recipe!?! Matt, how can you post a recipe for caramel sandwich cookies and omit the caramel filling recipe? Luckily a quick internet search yielded a plethora of options. I went with this one over at CHOW (which I loved as a print magazine) that was thorough and seemingly authentic. Of course because I failed to actually plan ahead, I didn't have the 2-3 hours needed to make the dulce de leche on the stove or in the can, which kind of freaks me out anyway. So I used the microwave version. Honestly I had little faith it was actually going to work, but I plowed ahead. I put it in for two minute intervals, stirring in between and slowly, it began to caramelize, just like that. The directions are fairly nebulous on when to stop this process so I ended up doing an extra cooking session that I regretted immediately. It still had that wonderful caramel smell and taste, but it had the consistency of caramel candies, not spreadable caramel sauce. I had a brief moment of panic, then i decided to add some milk and heat it again. Whew! After some more heating and stirring, it was ready.
I spread it on and sandwiched the cookies, grabbed the extra sauce for dipping (it was too good to waste) and ran out the door to book club. And they were a huge hit, following up a potluck spread of homemade mac and cheese, green beans with gorgonzola, salad and other nibbles. Hmmm, what am I going to make next?