Alfajores de Chocolate (Argentine Chocolate-Dulce de Leche Sandwich Cookies)

Alfajores de Chocolate

This chocolate recipe was inspired by Alfajores from Argentina and the author Maria has created Chocolate Dulce de Leche Sandwich Cookies or as Maria may affectionately call them, Alfajores de Chocolate.  These delicious cookies are sandwiched together with Dulce de Leche and coated in a delicious chocolate that will simply melt in your mouth.

Dulce de leche is a South American confection prepared by slowly heating sweetened milk to create a product that derives its taste from the Maillard reaction of the product, changing flavor and color.  The recipe for Dulce de leche can be found HERE.

For a converter, simply go HERE.

Full credit for this recipe and photography goes to the lovely Maria del Mar Sacasa who is a food stylist, recipe developer and writer who can be found at Serious Eats.  To find out more about Maria, visit her website HERE.

Ingredients for the Cookies

  • 1 tablespoon brandy or cognac (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons instant coffee
  • 3/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 6 ounces (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar (icing sugar)
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 4 teaspoons honey
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, plus additional for shaping dough
  • 1 cup cake flour
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

For the Filling:

  • 2 (13.4-ounce) cans dulce de leche (See recipe HERE)

For the Coating:

  • 12 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate (60% cacao), finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable shortening

Method

  1. For the Cookies: In small bowl, combine brandy, coffee, almond extract, and vanilla. Set aside.
  2. Beat butter, sugar, confectioners’ sugar, and orange zest on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add honey and coffee mixture and beat just until combined, scraping sides and bottom of bowl with rubber spatula as needed.
  3. Sift flour, cake flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt over butter mixture and combine with rubber spatula until dough comes together. Press plastic wrap directly onto dough and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  4.  Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.
  5. Once chilled, lightly coat fingers with flour and scoop 1-tablespoon portions of dough onto prepared baking sheets and pat down to about 2 1/2 inches in diameter (thickness will be about 1/4 inch).
  6. Bake cookies—one sheet at a time—until cookies are set and appear dry on the surface, 7 to 9 minutes. Transfer sheets to cooling rack and cool cookies until cool enough to handle, about 5 minutes. Transfer cookies directly to cooling rack and cool completely, about 15 minutes.
  7.  For the Filling: Once cooled, spread half the cookies with 1 heaping tablespoon dulce de leche. Cover with remaining cookies.
  8. For the Coating: Melt semisweet and bittersweet chocolate and shortening in large metal bowl set over pot of simmering water (bottom of bowl should not make contact with surface of water). Stir with rubber spatula until chocolate is smooth and melted. Alternatively, combine chocolate and shortening in large bowl and microwave 1 to 2 minutes until mixture is smooth, stopping microwave every 20 seconds to stir.
  9. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
  10. Carefully drop one sandwich cookie into the melted chocolate. With soup spoons, gently turn cookie to coat. Transfer cookie to prepared baking sheet and repeat with remaining cookies.
  11.  Transfer cookies to refrigerator and chill until set, 15 to 30 minutes.

Makes 18 sandwich cookies

 

Desfrutar!

Bittersweet Chocolate Tart with Salted Caramelized Nuts

Bittersweet Chocolate Tart with Salted Caramelized Nuts

This absolutely delicious dessert has a buttery shortbread tart crust and is filled with a rich, dark chocolate and garnished with salty sweet caramelized nuts of your choice and sea salt.  Such a fantastic combination of flavors!

If you need a converter simply click HERE.

Tart Base

4 oz (8 Tbs.) unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp finely grated orange zest
3/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/8 tsp table salt
4-1/2 oz (1 cup) unbleached all-purpose flour

Method for Tart Base

In a medium bowl, combine the butter, sugar, zest, vanilla, and salt. Add the flour and mix just until well blended. If the dough seems too soft to work with, let it sit for a few minutes to firm up. Press the dough into a 9-1/2-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom. Start with the sides, making them about 1/4 inch thick, and then press the remaining dough evenly over the bottom, pressing well into the corners. Let rest at room temperature for 30 minutes or chill until ready to bake (you can make the crust up to 3 days ahead).

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F. Put the pan on a cookie sheet and bake until the crust is a deep golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes, checking after about 15 minutes to see if the dough has puffed. Press the dough down with the back of a fork and prick a few times if necessary.

Tart Filling

1 cup half-and-half
2 Tbs granulated sugar
Pinch table salt
7 oz semisweet chocolate (up to 64% cacao), coarsely chopped
1 large egg, lightly beaten

Method for Tart Filling

In a small saucepan bring the half-and-half, sugar, and salt to a simmer. Off the heat, add the chocolate and stir with a whisk until completely melted and smooth. Cover to keep warm.

Just before the crust is ready, whisk the egg thoroughly into the chocolate mixture. When the crust is done, lower the oven temperature to 300°F. Pour the filling into the hot crust. Return the tart (still on the baking sheet) to the oven and bake until the filling is set around the edges but still jiggles a little in the center when you nudge the pan, 10 to 15 minutes. Cool on a rack.

Caramelized Nuts

1/2 cup salted nuts of your choice (for example: peanuts, pistachios, macadamia nuts etc)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/8 tsp. fine sea salt

Method for Caramelized Nuts

Line a baking sheet with foil.

Microwave the nuts on high for 1 minute so they will be warm when you add them to the caramel.  Alternatively, heat them in 200°F oven while you make the caramel.

Pour 1/4 cup water into a heavy 3-quart saucepan.  Pour the sugar and salt in the center of the pan and pat it down just until evenly moistened (there should be clear water all around the sugar). Cover the pan and cook over medium-high heat until the sugar dissolves, 2 to 4 minutes. Uncover and cook without stirring until the syrup begins to color slightly, about 1 minute. Reduce the heat to medium and continue to cook, swirling the pot gently if the syrup colors unevenly.

When the caramel is a pale to medium yellow, less than 1 minute more, add the warm nuts. With a heatproof silicone spatula, stir gently and slowly to coat the nuts with caramel. Continue to cook until a bead of caramel dribbled onto a white plate is reddish amber, about 1-1/2 minutes more. Immediately scrape the mixture onto the baking sheet and spread it as thin as you can before it hardens. When the caramel is slightly cooled but still warm, slide the foil with the caramel nuts into a zip-top plastic bag and seal the bag.  Cool completely.  Chop or crush.

To Serve

Serve at room temperature or slightly cool.  Garnish each slice with crushed salted caramelized nuts along with a light sprinkling of flaky sea salt or fleur de sel.

The tart is best on the day it’s made but may be refrigerated for 2 to 3 days.  Once the tart is completely chilled, cover it, but make sure no plastic wrap touches the surface by first putting the tart pan in a larger cake pan. Or cover the tart with an overturned plate.

Serves 12-14

Full credit for this wonderful recipe goes to Alice Medrich and photography by Scott Phillips.

Bon Appetit!

Mexican Spicy Hot Chocolate

Mexican Spicy Hot Chocolate

This delicious Mexican Spicy Hot Chocolate originates from the Aztecs, the inventors of hot chocolate.  They normally added chillies to their hot chocolate, although this version substitutes the chillies for cayenne pepper to give it that added spicy kick.  This is one very exciting drink!

For a converter simply click HERE.

 

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup cold heavy cream
  • 1 Tbs. plus 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 oz. (1/4 cup) Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • 1/8 tsp. Table salt
  • 4 cups 2% milk
  • 7 oz. bittersweet chocolate (65% to 70% cacao), finely chopped (about 1-3/4 cups)
  • 1/8 tsp. ground cayenne; more to taste
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. smoked paprika

 

 Method

1. In a medium bowl, beat the cream and 1 Tbs. sugar with an electric hand mixer on medium speed to medium-soft peaks.

2. Refrigerate while making the cocoa.

3. Put the remaining 1/4 cup sugar, the cocoa powder, and 1/8 tsp. salt in a heavy-duty 3-quart saucepan.  Add  1/4 cup of the milk and whisk until the mixture is smooth. Pour in the remaining milk and whisk to combine. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the chocolate and cayenne and reduce the heat to low. Whisk until the chocolate is completely melted and the mixture is a little frothy, 1 minute. Add more cayenne to taste, if you like.

4. Divide the hot chocolate among 6 mugs and top each with a dollop of the whipped cream. Sprinkle a bit of cinnamon and smoked paprika on the whipped cream and serve.

Full Credit for recipe and photography to Nicole Rees from Fine Cooking

Cheers!