A traditional alfajor cannot be improved upon. Alfajores are, in my opinion, the perfect dessert. They have melt-in-your-mouth cookies, a creamy, complex, and gooey center, and they can be rolled in shredded coconut. Essentially they pluck at all my heartstrings. So you may be wondering why I would ever choose to alter them. Well, it’s certainly not to elevate them, as I mentioned above, this South American delicacy is the pinnacle of cookie perfection. I decided to introduce s’mores to the classic alfajores because I thought it would taste good. Seriously, that is the only reason. And you know what? I was right. But do these S’more Alfajores beat out the original? No, I wouldn’t say they’re better, they’re just different and variety is the spice of life.
Okay, so let’s start from the top of these S’more Alfajores and work our way down, shall we? First up, the cookie. Alfajores cookies are light, crumbly, and unassertive. They are like a cross between a sugar cookie and a shortbread. They get their lightness from cornstarch, which enhances the pliability of the dough when the cookies are raw and gives them a melt-in-your-mouth quality when the cookies are baked. The dough is simple to make, easy to roll out, and a breeze to cut. The cookies themselves have a slightly muted flavor that is far from achingly sweet. The cookies are more-or-less there for texture, while the filling brings the noise.
And speaking of filling, let’s talk about the Italian meringue. Meringue and I are having a moment. I can seem to get away from the stuff this summer but I’m not mad. I love Italian meringue because it doesn’t require a trip to the oven to cook. To make Italian meringue you have to heat sugar and water to 240°F, which is then whipped into raw egg whites. The hot sugar mixture cooks the egg whites resulting in a fluffy meringue that is safe to eat straight from the bowl.
Not only does Italian meringue put health inspectors at ease, I think it’s the easiest and most stable meringue to work with. It’s very piping bag friendly and it toasts, with the aid of a torch, like a dream. It is also an excellent stand-in for marshmallow in terms of flavor and consistency, which means you can get that toasted marshmallow flavor sans bonfire.
Okay, now for the next and best layer of these S’more Alfajores – the ganache. Now, typically alfajores are filled with dulce de leche and nothing else. And you know what? They don’t need anything else – dulce de leche is the nectar of the gods. But s’mores are all about the chocolate, so a compromise had to be reached. Naturally, I gravitated towards ganache because not only is ganache spreadable, chocolaty, and delicious, you can pretty much flavor it with anything. And for this project, that anything was clearly dulce de leche.
Now, there are several possible consistencies for ganache depending on the cream to chocolate ratio. I typically go for a 1:1 ratio for a spreadable, pipeable ganache. But since I was going the dulce de leche route, I significantly lowered the amount of cream in favor of using dulce de leche.
Like ganache, dulce de leche is available in a variety of consistencies, from gooey sauce to something more akin to fudge. I used Eagle brand dulce de leche because it is fairly runny and I thinned it out even farther by adding a quarter cup of cream. If you’re using a thick dulce de leche, I would suggest adding even more cream to bring it to a more liquid state. But before you add any cream, it’s worthwhile seeing how your dulce de leche responds to heat. In the end, you want something pourable, roughly the consistency of hot chocolate.
I opted for dark chocolate chips for the ganache. You are, of course, welcome to use any chips you choose but I think a darker more bitter chocolate works best here. Dulce de leche is quite sweet, so something like milk chocolate might overwhelm the finished cookie with sugar. But hey, if you have the sweet tooth to end all sweet teeth, go for it! Just don’t tell your dentist I said you could.
And there you have it! A rundown on all the layers found in these S’more Alfajores. They sound like a project, but they’re actually quite simple to pull off and they store in the fridge like a dream – yet another upside to using Italian meringue.
S’more Alfajores with Dulce de Leche Ganache
- Kitchen Torch
- 1 cup cornstarch
- ¾ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ¼ tsp baking soda
- ¼ salt
- ½ cup unsalted butter softened
- ⅓ cup granulated sugar
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tbsp heavy cream
Dulce de Leche Ganache
- 200g dark chocolate chips
- ½ cup dulce de leche**
- 2 tbsp heavy cream
- 1 tsp Maldon salt
- 2 egg whites room temperature
- ¼ tsp cream of tartar
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ¼ cup +2 tbsp water
For the Cookies
- Preheat the oven to 375°F.
- Sift the cornstarch, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a bowl. Whisk to combine and set aside.
- Place the butter and sugar in the mixing bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
- Add the egg yolks to the butter and sugar mixture one at a time, pausing between each addition. Add the vanilla and beat until no longer visible. Pour in the flour mixture and beat until a crumbly dough forms. Add the cream and beat until dough becomes silky.
- Transfer the dough to the counter and form into a disc. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and place in the fridge. Let chill for 1 hour.
- Once an hour has passed, place the dough on a well-floured surface. Roll the dough out until it is a ¼ of an inch thick. Punch cookies out of the dough using a 1 ½" round cookie cutter. Transfer the cookies to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone mat and place them the oven. Bake the cookies for 15-20 minutes or until golden.
- Transfer the cookies to a wire rack and let cool completely.
For the Ganache
- Place the chocolate chips in a medium-sized bowl and set aside.
- Pour the dulce de leche and cream into a saucepan and place over medium-low heat. Heat until the mixture is hot like bath water but don't let it come to a boil.
- Pour the hot dulce de leche mixture over the chocolate chips and let sit for 1 minute. Once the minute has passed, whisk until a smooth and glossy mixture forms. Add the salt and stir to combine. Cover the ganache and let sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes.
For the Meringue
- Place the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Add the cream of tartar and whisk the egg whites on high until foamy.
- While the egg whites are being whisked, pour the sugar and water into a small saucepan and place over high heat. Heat the mixture until it reaches 240°F.
- With the mixer mixing on medium-high, slowly pour the hot sugar mixture into the egg whites. Continue whisking until stiff peaks form.
- Transfer the finished meringue to a piping bag fitting with a large piping tip – I used a Wilton 6B.
- Spread roughly a teaspoon of the ganache on half of the cookies. Pipe a dollop of the meringue on top of the ganache and toast with a kitchen torch. Place the remaining cookies on top and gently press. Serve the S'more Alfajores immediately.