Suzi's Blog

Alafajores Con Bano Blanco: Sable Sandwiches Filled with Dulce De Leche and Covered in Meringue

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This not just a cookie. It is an experience. I’m posting this on the Saturday before Super Bowl. If you are partying and if you want to impress folks — and certainly give your own mouth a bushel of flavors — then you need to consider this marvelous cookie. It’s from Meringue, a wonderful new cookbook from Linda Jackson and Jennifer Evans Gardner.

I’ve blogged recently about sables, which is  the French name for just a great butter cookie. One made with no egg and lots of butter. By themselves, sables are good. Their great value though is being a flavor vehicle. Here is Latin American treasure where sables are married into a sandwich with dulce de leche. And then the whole assembly is bathed in Italian meringue.

Decadent. Perfect for breakfast with espresso. Or at lunch. Or for dessert. Or for that 2AM kitchen raid that you make and you think your spouse does not know about but they do and you’ve begun to suspect it.

I will admit that these cookies are not “quick” or “easy” at least not for me. I found the sandwiched sables to be moving around because my dulce de leche was bit too fluid. Coating that moving target with meringue was not easy.

So, I chilled the dulce de leche. Then I made the sandwiches and refrigerated them. Then and only then, did I attempt to coat with meringue. And I put those critters right in the refrigerator to firm up quickly, too, so that the meringue would not slide off.

It’s worth every step. The multiple layers of flavors and textures are a treat that, in one bite, will appear in everyone’s eye. Then come the sighs.

Alfajores Con Bano Blanco

Yield: 22-24 sandwich cookies

Ingredients:

For the cookies:

  • 2 cups sifted flour
  • ¼ cup sifted powdered sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened, cut into 1 tablespoon-size pieces
  • 1 ½ cups dulce de leche, room temperature from a 13.4 ounce can or ajar of store-bought dulce de leche or, better, home-made and chilled

For the bano blanco meringue:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • ¼cup water
  • 2 large egg whites, room temperature

Preparation:

For the cookies, preheat the oven to 350°F.

In the bowl of an electric stand mixer, beat flour, sugar, salt, and butter on medium speed until the dough comes together. Form the dough into a ball, cover in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 20-30 minutes.

Sprinkle some flour onto your work surface and, with a rolling pin, roll the dough ⅛-inch thick. Cut into circles, using a 2-inch round cookie cutter, and transfer to parchment paper-lined baking sheets. Bring the dough scraps together and gently press into a ball. Flour your work surface again and re-roll the dough to ⅛-inch thick and cut out more circles. (You should end up with between 44 and 48 circles.)

Bake the cookies until they are golden and firm, about 15-20 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely, about 30 minutes more.

Spread about 1 teaspoon of dulce de leche on the flat side of a cookie and top with the flat side of another cookie. Continue until all of your sandwich cookies have been formed. Set aside.

For the meringue, placed the sugar in a small saucepan then cover with water. Heat on medium, tilting and swirling the pan occasionally, but do not stir. In the meantime, start beating the egg white — instructions below. When all the sugar has dissolved, increase the heat to medium-high and boil until the sugar syrup reaches 235°F [soft ball stage] on a candy thermometer. Immediately remove from the heat.

In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on medium-high speed until they form soft peaks. Slowly drizzle the sugar syrup into the bowl with the egg whites. Continue beating until the meringue is glossy but not stiff.

One by one, use a pastry brush to “paint” the meringue on the tops and sides of the dulce de leche-filled cookies. Transfer to a baking sheet lined with wax paper. Let the cookies dry for several hours or overnight so that the bano blanco forms a crust on the outside of the Alfajores. Store in an airtight container with the cookies separated by wax paper.

Source: Meringue by Linda Jackson and Jennifer Evans Gardner

 

Malted Milk Meringues

malted

 

In 1982, I bought a cookbook which has been my sidekick ever since. The Meringue Cookbook by Margaret Shakespeare was typical for its time: just under 10” X 7”, 220 pages, mediocre paper, no pictures. But great recipes for that fluffy stuff I just relish. Truth is, all I ever made from The Meringue Cookbook was one cookie recipe but I’ve just rescanned it and there’s much more there – items I’ll be sharing with you.

Why did I rescan the old book? Because I have a new sidekick: Meringue by Linda Jackson and Jennifer Evans Gardner. What can happen in meringue-land in 30 years. A lot. Physically, this book still comes in at 220 pages, but this one is 10” x 9” on fine quality paper, bigger and beautiful fonts, lots of inviting pictures and recipes that are marvelous.

Meringue is an important book, one that you should consider. Here you will find cookies, pavlovas, bars, tarts, pies, cakes, tortes, vacherins, dacquoises, and frostings. There is year of grand recipes here, ready for you and your eggs and that whip attachment in your stand mixer.

The photography is quite contemporary and entirely seductive. The Banana Cream Pavlova will have your tongue on the page. I know, that sounds disgusting. Look at the picture on Page 76, though, and temptation will be upon you.

I’m testing recipes already, one or two a week. They work perfectly, and I thank Meringue for the techniques it conveys.

I am a fan of drop-sized meringue cookies. They have always haunted me. I cook too long or too short, too hot or too cool. I use too much sugar or not enough. I have never, ever crafted a meringue like you have in Paris. Until now. The technique here, 90 minutes at 200°F and then an hour more with oven heat off, produces perfect French meringue cookies. Dry, but not crackled. No inner layer of bubbles or, or worse, moist bubbles.

Perfect.

“Why are you buying malt balls?” Suzen asked me at our candy store on Saturday.

“For you,” I said.

She snorted, because she does like malt balls and I did not use to like them and then we got this recipe for Malt Ball Ice Cream and … Well, I think she thought it was all a set up for ice cream on Sunday. Instead, she got these Malt Ball Meringues. She’s happy. I’m happy. We are out of malt balls. Just part of the balance of life.

 

Malted Milk Meringues

Yield: about 48

Ingredients:

  • 3 large egg white, room temperature
  • 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 cup superfine sugar
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • 6 ounces high quality malt balls, coarsely chopped

Preparation:

Preheat the oven to 200°F.

In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat egg whites and cream of tartar, increasing the speed to medium-high until soft peaks form. Gradually add the sugar, about a tablespoon at a time, beating on high until peaks are stiff and glossy. Mix in the cocoa powder and vanilla, about 1 minute more. Gently fold in the malt balls.

Drop by well-rounded teaspoons onto parchment-lined baking sheets, about 1 inch apart. Bake for 90 minutes. Turrf the heat and leave the meringes to dry, 1 hour or more. Cool completely before removing from baking sheets.

Source: Meringue by Linda Jackson and Jennifer Evans Gardner