Mocha Shortbread with Dulce de Leche

We are so excited to kick off our 3rd Annual Cookie Exchange with our guest Elizabeth, from Asian in America. We can’t tell you how grateful we are to have her join us. Elizabeth met some challenges while preparing her cookies. She lives on the East Coast and was hit by hurricane Sandy. She shares a bit of her story below. If you haven’t joined us before for the Cookie Exchange, we’re glad you’re here! Link up your favorite Cookie Recipe below and this year, we have 12 giveaways going on over the next 12 days. So, stop in every day for a chance to win one of our new Recipe Journals! 

I was going to bake a more decadent cookie than this one. That was the plan before Sandy. But the storm hit us. What we thought was going to be an overnighter, turned out to be a nightmare for the entire tri-state area. For a long stretch of 2 weeks and more, folks from my area lost power. And with that went everything that were basic necessities – electricity, heat, water, fresh food, gasoline for cars – none of these were to be found for miles. Slowly, as days stretched on to the next it was clear Sandy had been a storm of cataclysmic proportions. And so were the damages afterwards to life and property.

But after rising from the rubble, many of us were witness to how a calamity can bring out the best in people. All around us, east coast folks saw so much kindness and generosity spread out and showered around. It was heartwarming. And what better way to start the holiday season than by learning from these valuable lessons Sandy brought us. That said, I got nostalgic for the many Christmases I enjoyed when I lived in the Philippines a long time ago.

The holidays and Christmas are celebrated the longest in the Philippines. When I visited my home country in late September, the trimmings were up and carols were playing in the malls. Yes, Filipinos are obsessed with Christmas, perhaps more than any other nationality in the world. In the country where I grew up, Christmas is centered on religious traditions. Food and celebrations are intertwined between all that. Where there is food, there is a happy holiday event being held, and vice versa.

When I lived in the Philippines eons ago, I used to wake up early for the “dawn masses” or what was called “Misa de Gallo” (mass of the rooster). This is a 9-day Filipino tradition where the church service begins at 4 AM in the morning. It is considered a “novena” of sorts. A novena is a constant prayer said for a consecutive number of days,  with the ‘petitions’ or prayer requests asked. In my younger days, before marriage and children, I used to wake up at 3 AM to do this. Together with my cousin, Janet, we used to “jog” to church to attend the daily dawn mass. The intent to jog was to justify our need to work out early before going to work. But after the hour-long church service, our resolve weakened and we gave in to our hunger by buying a ton of the holiday cakes sold at the church grounds. We caved in at the sight and aroma of melted butter and rich cheese on freshly baked rice cakes or the Filipino “bibingka”. Workouts and diets broken, we hungrily chomped away on all those Filipino holiday treats. We blamed it on the holiday spirit ~ it was infectious. And it made us happy.

And now back in my east coast kitchen here in the USA, I looked at the calendar. The countdown to the holidays had started. I knew I needed to get baking. And so I made this cookie out of necessity. I had leftover ingredients in my pantry which I didn’t want to throw away. You see, when we had no power a lot of staple ingredients in my ref  had to be discarded. To me, it was a waste seeing so much go in the trash, when right there on TV, I could see families left homeless by Sandy. I wanted to be resourceful. I also felt the need to share food with friends who had no power. Ours was intermittently on and off, so it gave me a chance to make some quick baking.
The mocha shortbread was born out of basic recipe and the addition of leftover coffee. The mocha-coffee aroma was magnificent when the cookies came out of the oven. I went a step further and made use of condensed milk I had in my pantry. Taking the cue from my food blogger friend, Joey, of the blog “80Breakfasts”, I made ‘Dulce de Leche’ in my slow cooker. The caramel goodness was perfect as a filling for the mocha shortbread. I stacked up the shortbread rounds and slathered on the caramel. I made cookie sandwiches and they were incredibly addictive!
What better way to celebrate the holidays than by sharing shortbread filled with caramel  ~ a great idea from another friend. This is what the holidays are all about — friends sharing with friends — recipes, cookies and love. Happy Holidays from my kitchen to yours!
5.0 from 1 reviews
Mocha Shortbread with Dulce de Leche
*Adapted from “Cookiepedia” by Stacy Adimando
Recipe type: Cookie
  • Servings: makes 24 to 30 pieces (or 12 to 15 paired shortbread cookies)
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup rice flour (Mochiko brand, from Asian groceries)
  • 1 Tablespoon instant coffee powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons vanilla sugar *
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 Tablespoon brewed coffee (use leftovers)
  • 1 Tablespoon granulated sugar, for sprinkling on cookie (optional)
  • ¾ cup Dulce de Leche, for filling (recipe follows )
  • Dulce de Leche
  • * Inspired by @80breakfasts
  • 1 can ( 14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
  1. Remove paper labels from can.
  2. Take a large stock pot, filled with water. Place the can of condensed milk. Water should cover the can.
  3. Over medium high heat, cook the condensed milk can for 3 hours on a stove top. If using a slow cooker like I did ~ slow cook condensed milk on HIGH settings, for 4 hours.
  4. When cooking time is over, turn off heat and leave the can to slowly get to room temperature. Then when cooled, refrigerate condensed milk “dulce de leche” for 6 hours or overnight. Set aside till shortbread cookies are baked and cooked to assemble sandwich.
    Whisk flours, coffee powder, salt in a bowl. Set aside.
  5. In a stand mixer, cream together the butter, sugar, vanilla and brewed coffee till light and fluffy, for about 5 minutes. Turn off mixer and scrape the sides of the bowl.
  6. Add the dry ingredients by hand and blend well till all ingredients are incorporated.
  7. Turn out the dough on a plastic wrap and seal well. Refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight. I personally prefer to keep the dough overnight, so it firms up.
  8. The next day,pre-grease and line the cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  9. Preheat the oven to 325 F degrees.
  10. On a lightly floured surface of your counter, place the dough and dust the top with a little flour. With a lightly floured rolling pin, gently roll the dough to ¼ inch thick cookies.
  11. Using a round cookie cutter, cut the dough into 2-inch diameter circles. Place cookies on baking sheet, leaving a space of 1 inch apart. Prick the centers with a fork. Be sure to make an even number of cookies for you to pair up with the filling.
  12. Sprinkle the top of cookies with granulated sugar. Bake at 325 F degrees for 15 to 17 minutes or till edges are light gold . Cool cookies on rack thoroughly before placing the Dulce de Leche filling. This should take at least 35 to 45 minutes to cool.
  13. To fill & assemble cookies : Spread a teaspoon of dulce de leche on each shortbread cookie. Cover the caramel cream-filled cookie with another shortbread. Store in tight containers. Freeze. If kept in air tight plastic resealable bags or containers, these shortbread cookies can last for 2 to 3 weeks.


Elizabeth Quirino, @Mango_Queen to the food world, food blogger of the site “Asian In America”, is a freelance journalist, copywriter, research analyst and former college instructor. But no matter how busy she is, she finds time to be in her kitchen to whip up Filipino food and Asian home cooking, something she’s been doing for over 25 years.

Elizabeth learned how to cook at an early age from her mom, when she was growing up in the Philippines. Now that she lives in the USA, Elizabeth continues the family traditions of home cooking daily meals and raised her 2 sons on delicious Filipino food. Elizabeth enjoys sharing these family recipes she’s developed herself on her food blog which has been noticed by the NY Times, the LA Times, Gourmet Live, Foodista and highly curated recipe sites like Gojee. In addition, Elizabeth is a regular contributor to Homemade Quirk, the blog of Quirk Books.

Elizabeth travels to and from Manila and Asia, in constant search of new recipes and travel stories. In the Philippines, you’ll find her feature articles in “FOOD Magazine”, Manila’s largest circulating culinary magazine and, a Manila-based recipe site. On her last trip to Manila in September 2012, she received the “Doreen G. Fernandez Food Writing Award”, where her essay “A Hundred Mangoes in a Bottle” won in the annual writing contest in honor of the Philippine’s pioneer food writer.

Now that her sons are all grown, Elizabeth proudly says “they now enjoy cooking for me when they visit home.” Currently Elizabeth lives in the east coast with her husband.



Head over to LoveFeast Shop. Pick your favorite cover of our new Cookbook Journal. Then leave a comment on Elizabeth’s post today, HERE…letting her know which one you like. You’ll be entered to win your own LoveFeast Cookbook Journal.


  1. […] Elizabeth, Asian in America ~ Mocha Shortbread With Dulce De Leche […]

  2. […] you want to learn how to bake this Mocha Shortbread with a sweet Dulce de Leche filling? I am over at LoveFeast Table, for the 3rd Annual Cookie […]