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Recipe: Dulce de leche cookies

Recipe: <i>Dulce de leche</i> cookies
Dulce de leche cookie. (Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)

"This recipe is kind of a mash-up between my mom and me. My mom makes

dulce de leche

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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."

—Zaira Angelo, Pomona

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

1 1/2 cups sugar

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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.

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