Last night after dinner, my husband went into the kitchen and exclaimed, “Oh no! There’s nothing for dessert!” It was true: the box of  Mother’s cookies that we’d smuggled back from our Christmas-time trip to California was long gone, as were the Sees candies (also smuggled from CA), and the bowl of Ina Garten’s Ultimate Ginger Cookies dough – which we’d kept in the fridge and from which made two large cookies a day over the course of the week – had been scraped clean a few days ago.

I pulled out my Martha Stewart’s Cookies and Cupcakes cookbooks and started rifling through them. I asked him, “Cookies or cupcakes?” and he said decisively, “Cookies.” I flipped through the book, skimming the recipes until one struck my fancy. “Oatmeal raisin?” I asked him, and I could tell by the long moment of silence that followed that oatmeal raisin wasn’t striking his fancy one bit. A lot of recipes were ruled out if I didn’t have all the ingredients, since I was feeling lazy and not terribly inclined to go running out to the grocery store. Then I found it: chocolate cookies with a layer of dulce de leche sandwiched in between. James heartily agreed that this was our recipe.

In the book, these cookies are called “Dulce de Leche Bat Cookies,” because you’re supposed to cut out a bat shape out of  the middle of half of the cookies, using aspic cutters. My brother-in-law gave me a set of 11 nesting scallop-edged cookie cutters for Christmas, so I considered using the smallest size to cut a window out of half of the cookies, but you know what? That’s just fussy and would make the cookies messier for storage, so I didn’t bother. (And speaking of fussy, how about using a tiny triangle-shaped aspic cutter to cut out the body of the bat, and then a cresent-shaped aspic-cutter to cut out the wings? Who even owns aspic cutters anyway?)

These cookies are delicious. Rich and gooey and awesome. The chocolate dough is a little salty, which balances out the sweetness of the dulce de leche. The cookies have a yummy brownie-like quality to them, with a slightly crackly top and a chewy texture.

About dulce de leche: if you are unfamiliar with it, dulce de leche is a caramel-like milk-based sauce that originally comes from Latin America. It’s made from sweetened milk that is cooked extremely slowly.  It is pure deliciousness. You can make it yourself, and I have before, but it take hours. Martha says you can make it by putting two cans of sweetened condensed milk in a double boiler and cook it for 5 hours, stirring every 10 minutes. The way I did it, a couple years ago, involved emptying a can of sweetened condensed milk into a pie plate, covering it tightly with foil, and then cooking it in a very low oven for a couple hours until it darkened to a caramel color. I don’t remember the specifics, but there are tons of dulce de leche recipes out there on the internet.

The Latin section of my grocery store sells La Lechera brand canned dulce de leche right next to the sweetened condensed milk, so that’s what I used. 😀

Chocolate Dulce de Leche Sandwich Cookies

From Martha Stewart’s Cookies

Makes 1 1/2 Dozen

3/4 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

1/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder

3/4 teaspoon coarse salt

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup packed light brown sugar

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature

1 large egg and 1 large egg yolk

4 ounces semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled (I used Ghiaradelli)

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons dulce de leche (I used La Lechera)

  1. Whisk together first four ingredients in a bowl. In another bowl, beat butter and sugars together with a hand mixer on medium until light and fluffy, 3 minutes. Add egg and yolk, melted chocolate, and vanilla and beat until incorporated. With mixer on low, slowly add flour mixture and beat until just combined. Shape dough into a disk, wrap it in plastic wrap (if you’re like me and discover that you’re out of plastic wrap, a gallon-size ziplock bag will work!) and chill in the fridge for 1 hour.
  2. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface, until 1/8-inch thick. Using a 2-inch diameter cookie cutter, cut out 36 rounds and place on a parchment-lined cookie sheet about 1 inch apart.  (Martha says to refrigerate the cookie sheets for 30 minutes, but I skipped this step because I was impatient. If you do end up cutting out a shape in the middle of half of the cookies, you should chill the cookie sheets so the shape stays sharp while cooking.)
  3. Bake until set, 7 to 9 minutes (since I skipped the refrigeration step, I pulled mine out at 7 minutes). Let cool on wire racks. To assemble, top one cookie with a teaspoon of dulce de leche, then sandwich a second cookie on top of that. The cookies develop a brownie-like crackly surface on top, so I put the dulce de leche on the bottoms. Cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature, up to three days. I’m not convinced they’ll hang around that long, though.

Lisa from Sweet As Sugar Cookies invited me to link these cookies into her “Sweets for a Saturday” post. Hop over to her blog to check out lots of yummy recipes!