Vegemite is a staple…Okay, maybe only in Australia.
Where certain parts of the world aren’t too excited about harnessing it’s unusual flavor, others embrace it and wave it’s dark and bitter flag with pride. After experiencing (and enjoying) Vegemite gelato recently along The Great Ocean Road, we knew there must be other ways to celebrate this down unda’ national treasure but were still baffled by it’s bad reputation and intimidating flavors.
For this installment of “Made By Mail” – we asked Australian wonder-child and master sweet tooth wrangler, Sarah Coates / The Sugar Hit, to prove the world wrong and dismiss any negative feelings about this cultural condiment. Not only did she enlighten us with options outside of the butter heavy breakfast toast, she elevated the national spread as a sweet and salty dessert that will make you think twice before passing up the tumultuous yellow and red tub during your next trip to the market.
Sarah, Show us the (Vegemite- infused) light!
Vegemite is tied to the Australian identity as strongly as kangaroos, wearing thongs (that’s flip flops to you) and throwing a snag on the barbie. My relationship with Vegemite has always been a complicated one. You see, I happen to be a fan of another Australia-only weird black spread, called Promite. It was tough growing up as the only kid who wasn’t a fan of Vegemite. But as anyone who has ever been tricked by a crafty Australian into munching on a big spoonful of the stuff will tell you, Vegemite is somewhat of an acquired taste.
What is Vegemite, you ask? Wikipedia describes it as ‘a dark brown Australian food paste’ which is accurate, but not super helpful. It’s not really like anything else, but I think it’s best described as what molasses would taste like if it was made of umami instead of sugar. Think very dark, very bitter, and with a strong salty bite.
Unfortunately for unsuspecting visitors, it is the unparalleled pleasure of all Aussies to make people taste Vegemite and then laugh at their hilarious reactions. But, BUT, it’s not as disgusting as it seems, I swear! And I’m speaking as a convert here. You just have to understand that you need to treat your Vegemite like a condiment, or a seasoning. You haven’t lived until you’ve eaten a slice of hot buttered white toast, smeared with a barely-there slick of salty brown Vegemite.
But I think I may have taken it even to the next level here. I think even the staunchest, vegemite hating non-believer wouldn’t be able to turn down a Vegemite alfajore. We know that vegemite loves butter, and that caramel loves salt. Now, imagine the combination of a buttery shortbread cookie, slicked with super-sweet dulce de leche that has been tempered and tamed by salty, bitter, dark Vegemite.
It’s unbelievable. You won’t believe it.
Here is the fabled Vegemite Alfajore. A glorious coming together of two national treasures…Vegemite Alfajores Makes 20 Ingredients:
- 1 + 1/2 sticks butter
- 1/3 cup icing sugar
- 1 cup plain flour
- 2 tbsp cornstarch
- 1 cup dulce de leche
- 2 tsp Vegemite
- Preheat the oven to 350F and line 2 baking trays with non-stick baking paper.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the paddle, cream the butter and icing sugar together until very light and pale.
- Add the flour and cornstarch to the mixer and mix on a low speed until a soft dough forms.
- On a well-floured surface, roll the dough out to about a quarter inch thickness.
- Using a 1.5 inch cutter, cut out as many rounds of dough as you can, re-rolling as necessary. I got about 40 rounds.
- Place the dough rounds onto the lined baking trays, leaving only a little room between the cookies, as they don’t spread much.
- Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until lightly golden at the edges.
- Place the cookies on a rack to cool completely.
- To fill the cookies, stir together the dulce de leche and vegemite until they are thoroughly combined.
- Spread just under a teaspoon of mixture onto half the cookies, sandwiching them with another plain cookie as you go.
Serve straight away or keep in an air tight container in the fridge.