Originally written as part of the World Cup 2014 cooking project.
The first ever World Cup was held in Uruguay in 1930, after it was chosen as the preferred hosting nation because not only had it won the Olympic football tournaments in 1924 and 1928, 1930 celebrated Uruguay’s 100 years of independence. There was also the small matter of Uruguay willing to finance the whole tournament, something that certainly wouldn’t sway FIFA today, would it?
Uruguay went on to win the tournament 4-2 against arch rivals Argentina. However, the World Cup is never short of controversy and 1930 was no different. The point of disagreement was in the final and it centred on whose ball to use. A decision was reached whereby Argentina’s ball was used in the first half and Uruguay’s in the second half. Good job that this doesn’t happen these days or I could see a Mr Suarez picking his ball up and taking it home.
And that nicely brings me on to Brasil 2014 and a certain Mr Suarez. There is no doubt in my mind that Uruguay without Suarez is a much poorer team, evident by the two losses that Uruguay suffered when Suarez wasn’t playing. He really is a Jekyll and Hyde character. On form and behaving he most certainly is one of the best strikers in the world without doubt. We all know what happens on the obverse side of that coin. Personally, I hope he can sort out his hunger issues because this beautiful game needs players of his calibre.
Originally I had chivito al pan pencilled in as the food to cook for Uruguay. This is considered its national speciality and consists of a mayonnaise slathered bap containing layers of grilled steak, ham, bacon, fried or boiled egg, and mozzarella cheese; there may be some token vegetables thrown in. The word chivito refers to goat which is quite odd as the sandwich contains no goat. The story goes that a restaurant owner by the name of Antonio Carbonaro was approached by a woman who asked for some grilled goat. Completely goatless señor Carbonaro improvised by grilling some steak and adding other tasty ingredients. The combination worked so well that word spread and the sandwich became a huge success. Ultimately, it never contained goat but the name chivito endures as an incongruous reference to its beginnings.
After all that you’re thinking why haven’t I gone with this magnificent sandwich. It’s only because yesterday was Argentina which was the choripán, another sandwich containing deliciously fatty chorizo with chimichurri, and I thought that two in a row was just a tad too much. However, for Uruguay’s tasty comestible I have made alfajores filled with dulce de leche; Spanish style biscuits filled with a sweet caramelised milk. Dulce de leche is unquestionably the best-loved of all Latin American desserts, in particular in Uruguay.
Alfajores with Dulce de Leche - UruguayPrint
- For the Dulce de Leche:
- ■ 395g can sweetened condensed milk | About 14oz.
- ■ 375ml can evaporated milk | About 410g or 14.5oz.
- For the Alfajores (biscuit):
- ■ 75g cornflour |
- ■ 225g plain flour |
- ■ 55g icing sugar | Also known as powdered sugar.
- ■ 200g cold butter | Cubed.
- ■ 2 large egg yolks |
- ■ ¼ tsp. ground cinnamon |
- ■ ½ tsp. vanilla extract |
- ■ some lightly toasted desiccated coconut.
For the ducle de leche: To a heavy based medium saucepan add the sweetened condensed milk and evaporated milk. Bring to a simmer and then continue to simmer gently over a medium heat whilst constantly stirring. After about 20-30 minutes you will have a milk that will be thick and lightly caramelised. The longer you cook it the darker it will become.
For the alfajores: To a food processor add the cornflour, flour, icing sugar and butter. Process until the mix looks like breadcrumbs. Add the egg yolks, cinnamon and vanilla extract and process until dough-like. Briefly knead the dough on a work surface and form a ball. Wrap it in cling film and put it in a fridge to rest for an hour.
Preheat an oven to 180°C (360°F).
Roll the dough to 1 cm thick on a lightly floured surface. Cut out biscuit shapes with a biscuit cutter and put on a baking parchment lined baking sheet. Bake in the oven for 14-16 minutes, or until they attain a slight brown colour with crispy edges. Cool on a wire rack.
Sandwich a heaped teaspoon of dulce de leche between two biscuits being careful not to break them. Roll the biscuit in toasted coconut so that it sticks to the filling.