Just look at that sweet little filling, just barely peeking out of the middle, acting so very innocent. I'm sure your mother told you that looks can be deceiving, don't you know. Because soon these cookies cause everyone in their path to swoon, and lust after every single bite. I still find this especially impressive for a cookie that maybe doesn't even look like much. I mean really, it doesn't even have chocolate. Gasp, I know. When my friend Joel introduced me to these cookies, I though, nah they can't really be that good. Was I ever wrong, thankfully oh so wrong...remembering that everything Joel makes is absurdly and wickedly good. Like over the top, lick your fingers in public, good. I vividly remember every bite of every single tasty morsel that I have ever tasted of Joel's cooking. Really these delightful cookies should be renamed Joel's Peruvian cookies. Or at least that is what my family has fondly come to name them, referring to Joel's heritage, and the cookies too. Joel and I used to galavant about Toronto, constantly trying to find the most tempting palces to eat and then we would gleefully celebrate every single morsel, as if it was our last. I was living in perhaps the most dilapidated apartment imaginable, consisting of a sad cold narrow hallway in which only one appliance could be plugged in or the whole world would come to a crashing halt. A toaster oven for an oven. I suppose that could be fine, if it wasn't also a basement apartment with a screaming baby above my head, a shortage of hot water, a stove that was a hotplate, oh and if it wasn't a long and very cold winter. I was in music school, and Joel was in between his music studies, and living with his folks. Joel's parents used to be so excited when I called, they assumed I was his girlfriend. Joel and I would giggle when his Dad would excitedly answer the phone, since a girl was calling and all. Except, that Joel couldn't be less interested, in girls that is...then a few minutes later we would erupt into beyond-giddy laughter, absolutely howling, at this predicament. I suppose it didn't help that we both also spent the summer together at the Aspen Music Festival and School. We studied music, but we were mostly obsessed with the next thing to eat. I have to tell you that Joel has this phenomenal gift of being able to walk into a kitchen, and literally know where everything is within seconds. So of course, he's known to everyone as a fabulous host, even in the homes of complete strangers. Joel never ceases to amaze, you can't help but immediately take a liking to Joel, and he has this uncanny ability to be asked to cater parties on a whim, or to house sit in the most fabulous homes, him being so likable and all. Luckily for me, he'd bring me along, and we'd cook and cook and cook, just adding ridiculous amounts of butter as we went, and here and there I'd pick up a few of Joel's secrets. At one of Joel's infamous gatherings; I arrived quite early. I just couldn't wait, who could stand the suspense? Soon, I was watching Joel meticulously sandwich these delicate little cookies together with ease, and I was just barely able to maintain my enthusiasm over these most perfect bites. Somehow, I guess he thought it would be a good idea to let me lick the spoon. Hah! If he only knew what a monster he just created. ummm....a sweet monster, but one that would run away with the pot and never stop until it's all gone. And no one could lay blame for it being so very clean. Okay, I didn't run off with it, but it I snagged the recipe instead. Joel calls this dulce de leche, but it isn't just condensed milk. It is thinned out a bit, and then sweetened(!) with a cinnamon stick. Perhaps this recipe should come with a warning label: it might be wise to make the filling with supervision. Preferably in the presence of someone who might think lesser of you, or at least disciplined enough NOT to join in, if the filling is devoured right before their eyes, when it is supposed to be destined for the cookies. Patience my friend, if you manage it just right, then it usually works out that there is a nice helping left to top some ice cream. That is, of course, if fights don't break out first... Dulce de Leche Cookies For the cookies: 1 cup flour 1 cup cornstach 1 ¾ sticks of unsalted butter, chilled 6 tbsp icing sugar 2 pinches of salt For the filling: 1 small can evaporated milk (160mL) 1 can condensed milk 2 tsp vanilla 1 cinnamon stick (3-4 inches) For the cookies: 1. Start by mixing the ingredients with a food-processor. Then remove and begin to work the dough (crumbs at this point) by hand. At first, it will seem that a dough will never appear. Be patient, and the pieces will come together. Although, do work quickly so that the butter does not melt. 2. Roll the dough very thin, 1/4cm or so, using extra flour as needed. Cut the dough into thin rounds with a 1.25 inch cutter - a shot glass rim works well. Carefully place the cookies on cookie sheets lined with parchment paper. 3. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 12-15 minutes, until just starting to have a slight golden appearance. Let them cool. For the filling: 1. Heat all the ingredients in a heavy-bottomed sauce pan, on medium/low for about 45 minutes. Stir occasionally in the beginning and then constantly towards the end. Caution - it will burn! It will become thicker as it cools. Sandwich two of the rounds together with the filling - while the filling is still quite warm. Use a small spoon to add the filling to one cookie. Let cool a few seconds, and then place another cookie on the top. Apply slight pressure until the filling is visible from the side. Although the goal is to get as much filling as possible without it going over the edge! To serve, these look especially pretty when arranged on a plate, and dusted with icing sugar.