In Brazil, condensed milk and cocoa powder are cooked until thick and shaped into bonbons called brigadeiro. This was one of my favorite treats growing up; my mom and I would heat up the condensed milk and chocolate in the microwave, and I would eat spoonfuls of the rich, caramelized mixture as it cooled down.
The other day, inspired by a recipe for chocolate-coated sandwich cookies I came across in a Brazilian food magazine, I thought: why not pair chocolate-infused, caramelized condensed milk (called dulce de leche in Spanish and doce de leite in Portuguese) with my favorite chocolate shortbread recipe? Traditional shortbread typically has twice as much butter as sugar. This recipe has equal amounts of both, yielding a soft, sweet, melt-in-your-mouth cookie.
The dough is soft and sticky, and can be tricky to roll out and shape, but it’s well worth the effort. I shaped these as hearts for Valentine’s Day, but feel free to use any cookie cutter you have on hand.
Chocolate Dulce de Leche Sandwich Cookies
1 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
6 tablespoons high-quality cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
14 oz can of condensed milk
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
Prepare the filling: In a medium saucepan or microwavable bowl, combine condensed milk and cocoa powder. To prepare on the stove, bring to a boil on medium-high heat, then reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring frequently, until mixture is thick and slowly slides off spoon, around 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside; the mixture will continue to thicken as it cools. To prepare in the microwave, heat the mixture for three minutes and stir. Repeat, microwaving for three minutes at a time then stirring, until thick and slowly slides off spoon. Cool at room temperature, then refrigerate if preparing the cookies another day.
Prepare the dough: In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter and confectioner’s sugar until light and fluffy. Stir in cocoa powder and salt until well combined. Add flour, mixing until just incorporated. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for around 10-15 minutes, until cold but not rock-solid, if preparing cookies immediately. If preparing in advance, refrigerate longer. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough until around 1/8-1/4 inch thick (you may need to let the dough defrost first, depending on how long it’s been in the refrigerator.) Shape with a cookie cutter, re-rolling scraps to form more cookies. Place cookies about an inch apart on prepared baking sheet.
Bake and assemble: Bake for around 16-18 minutes (larger cookies may take longer to bake) until cookies puff up and cracks begin to form on the surface. It is better to under-bake than over-bake these, so if in doubt, remove from the oven a little early. Let cool on the baking sheet. Spread half the cookies with dulce de leche filling, and cover each with the remaining cookies to form sandwiches. Dust with powdered sugar. Serve immediately or store at room temperature in an airtight container.
Yields approximately 18 sandwich cookies.