Christmas Chocolate Alfajores


As some of you might know I was born in Lima-Peru (South America). My mother is one of the reasons I like baking so much. Since I was a kid, I always admired how she baked everything from scratch. If it was my birthday or Christmas or just a simple tea time with her friends, she was always a great host taking care of every little detail. Now, my mom suffers from an early stage of dementia, so baking and cooking are not a priority to her anymore, she has a person who does all those things for her. I visit my parents twice a year, but I check on them everyday with a device called   “Amazon Show”, it’s a pretty cool little device, easy to use for older people who don’t manage technology very well. We can see each other and I tell them (specially my mom) about my pastries/desserts, I think that is why my blog is called “Pastry Tales”.

If you are from South America or if you have ever visited, you should know that “Alfajor” is the most popular cookie down there, a very soft shortbread filled with dulce de leche, I learnt to bake this cookie when I was a kid. Thanks mom!!

This year, I won’t travel to Peru for Christmas because I’ll be going in January, so I decided to make this version of alfajores called “Christmas Chocolate Alfajores”. I made the cookie with flour, cocoa powder and hazelnuts. The filling is dulce de leche and they are lightly dusted in powdered sugar.

I used a Linzer Cookie Cutter Set, but if you don’t have that, you can just use a round shape one.

Let’s start with the recipe!

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Walnut Maple Bars

Happy Tuesday! Hope everyone is doing great. I can’t believe that we’ll be celebrating Christmas in less than two weeks. I haven’t figured out the Christmas menu yet, but I’ll be baking a few things for sure. 

One of my favorite nuts is walnuts, they go so well with everything. I add them to cookies, cakes, brownies, cheese boards, oatmeal, etc. This time I decided to make some kind of blondies/bars using walnuts in 3 forms: ground walnuts, chopped walnuts and walnuts to decorate. Also, I’m using maple syrup which I think works perfect with these nuts. The result of this combination is just heaven! These bars are perfect for any time of the day or you can make them for your Christmas gatherings too.

For me, the best brand of nuts is Diamond. They offer fresh and good quality nuts. You can find them at any grocery store. Here is their website so you can learn more about them: https://www.diamondnuts.com/

Let’s start with the recipe!

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Orange Cranberry Bundt Cake

Happy Sunday Everybody! I’ve been sick with a bad cold for the last couple of days! Steve (my husband) started feeling weird after we came back for our little trip to Lake Tahoe and I started to feel with a cold not too long after that. I haven’t baked since Wednesday but today I got up with this orange blueberry muffins idea in my head. I went to the kitchen, made them but they didn’t look that pretty! I feel bummed because I wanted to share the recipe with you all but it happens! They tasted good though, I will try to make them again soon.

And talking about orange…. I almost forgot to post this recipe for Orange Cranberry Bundt Cake. Super easy to make and perfect for your Christmas gatherings with family and friends.

Let’s start with the recipe!

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German Lebküchen

Happy Monday! I’m all about Christmas cookies right now! Today, I’m showing you how to make one type of German gingerbread cookies (German Lebküchen) , “Nurnberger Lebkuchen”. I was a little bit confused about the gingerbread spice that is typically used in these kind of cookies because it is not the normal gingerbread spice that we are used to, it has a unique flavor.

First, you have to make your own German gingerbread spice blend which includes cinnamon, cloves, allspice, coriander, green cardamom, ginger, star anise, mace and nutmeg! I know… too many spices for one cookie?? Nope, you can store this wonderful spice for other cookies and cakes (I promise to post other recipes where you can use this wonderful spice).  You can also buy this online but there is nothing better than make your own plus it’s kind of expensive for the amount you get. I went to a local Indian market and got green cardamom beans for a very good price!

Let’s talk about the cookie, you’ll need eggs, hazelnuts, almonds, citrus peel, orange peel and gingerbread spice of course!! These cookies don’t need flour, just nuts! Because of their texture, it’s preferable that you use wafers (Back Oblaten), you can get those online.

And to finish… the 2 types of glaze. You can use chocolate or a sugar glaze.

I know, there are too many things to consider, just follow all the instructions and you’ll get beautiful cookies to share or gift during this holiday season.

Let’s start with the recipe.

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Brown Butter Bourbon Chocolate Pecan Cookies

Happy Tuesday!! I can’t believe this is the last week of November! Hope everybody had a great Thanksgiving and maybe Black Friday?. I went Black Friday shopping late Thursday night and I thought that maybe because of the heavy rain it was going to stop people to get out of their warm homes and go shopping, but guess what! It was super crowded and we didn’t find a spot to park, it was a disaster! We tried again Friday afternoon and we did a little shopping, but I think next year I’ll just sit on my pc and shop online.

Christmas is a big baking holiday at my house, specially cookies and breads. Here is the recipe for Brown Butter Bourbon Chocolate Pecan Cookies. No, you don’t buy “brown butter” at the supermarket (I was told this by a few people). Browning butter on a pan helps release a nutty aroma which works perfect with bourbon and nuts . Making brown butter is easy, just keep an eye on it while cooking because it can burn easily.

Let’s start with the recipe.

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Cranberry Limoncello Pie

Growing up, I never ate pumpkin stuff because it’s not popular in Peru. We have some kind of squash but I don’t think it has the same taste as pumpkin, we never use it for desserts. The first time I tried pumpkin pie was about 10 years ago, I was told to bring dessert to a Thanksgiving family gathering with my husband’s family (my boyfriend back then and I was here visiting), so I asked him what kind of dessert I should make, he said pumpkin pie (of course lol), I looked online, found a couple of recipes and I made the crust and filling. When I got to taste it, for me it was ok. I tried other pumpkin pies over the years but I never really liked the texture so much. I love pumpkin and I bake with pumpkin a lot, but there is something about the pie that is a no no for me. This is why I always offer to bring cheesecake instead! I love love pumpkin cheesecake!

This year, I wanted to come up with a new pie, something that works for Thanksgiving and Christmas, I thought cranberry was a good option! Then, I saw a Limoncello bottle that I used a couple of months ago for another recipe, so I incorporated a few tablespoons of Limoncello and omg it tasted so good! The crust is a gingersnap-walnut crust! Give this a try! Always remember to make the pie at least the night before Thanksgiving so the filling sets nicely.

Here is a pic of me with my first pumpkin piel. I look so young!! It’s been 10 years! wow! Anyway, hope you have a great Thanksgiving week, enjoy your time with family and friends! I’ll try to post another recipe here, but it’s going to be a busy week. If you want to know about my Thanksgiving week, don’t forget to follow me on Instagram!

Also, I will be doing a GIVEAWAY next week! Just for people who follows me on Instagram! @Pastry_Tales

Let’s start with the recipe!

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Magical Christmas Cake

Friday is finally here and Thanksgiving is just around the corner, I can’t believe November is going by so fast. Things around here haven’t been that great, we have a big fire burning in Northern California for a week now, many people lost their life and homes, animals are lost and running away , the air quality is very unhealthy right. I just turned on my air purifier, otherwise it will be difficult to be inside the house with all the windows closed. Thanks to all the first responders for their hard and amazing work!

If you follow me on Instagram (@Pastry_Tales) you saw that I posted a picture of a Christmas cake , I know, I’m not a fruit cake person either, I really don’t like those dense, wet, with tons of candied cherries cakes, and no, this cake is not like that at all. This is a lighter version of a fruit cake. It’s packed with good quality nuts, dry fruit, rum, honey, cocoa powder and other goodies. This magical dessert is perfect for your Christmas table because it’s easy to make and looks really pretty!

Oh, I almost forgot to mention. If you don’t have all the dry fruit, don’t worry, use the ones you have at home or the ones you like the most! There is not a specific rule for that! Also, you don’t need a mixer!

Let’s start with the recipe.

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Linzer Cookies

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas …. everywhere I go… literally… EVERYWHERE! and I like it! One of things I love about Christmas is baking. My husband and I always host Christmas dinner at our house and we have his closest family over (now my family too). For me, Christmas is a little bit sad because all of my family is in Peru but I’m planning to make a trip in January so that cheers me up! Anyway, Christmas is one of my favorite holidays and I always make a big list of things to bake and one of my favorite Christmas cookies are called LINZER.

I’m sure you’ve seen linzer cookies around, but store-bought are not the same as homemade.

So… What is a Linzer Cookie? This is  the cookie version of the Austrian dessert Linzer torte. Born in the City of Linz, the tart consists of a crust made from flour and ground nuts — traditionally almonds or pecans — filled with black currant preserves and topped with a lattice crust.

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Mulled Wine Chocolate Cupcakes

Jingle Bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way ….

Happy Monday!!! Hope everyone is doing great. The past few days have been really bad for California. Many fires around the state have destroyed homes and killed people. My family is ok because we don’t live close to where the active fire is but we get all the smoke which makes our air quality to be unhealthy. But, there is no place for me to complain about the air quality when I know there are other people who is suffering, it’s just so sad.

On a more cheerful note, I made these cupcakes last week, they were a hit! It takes a little bit of your time because you have to prepare the mulled wine first, but I would recommend that you make it the night before and just refrigerate it until you are ready to make the cupcakes.

These boozy cupcakes are perfect for your Thanksgiving or Christmas gathering, they taste really good and look super pretty! For decoration, I made frosted cranberries (yep, you read it right!), they aren’t difficult to make (instructions at the end of the page).

Let’s start with the recipe…

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Gingerbread Loaf with Cream Cheese Frosting

Northern California is starting to cool off and that is a good excuse to turn on my oven and bake Christmas goodies. This gingerbread loaf is perfect for a chilly morning. When my husband had a bite of this bread, he told me that it was better than the Starbucks one. I mean, I like Starbucks stuff, but I think when you make stuff at home, they can be a little healthier and fresh. This loaf does not have molasses like other recipes, but I added crystallized ginger chips which makes the bread more tasty!

There is no trick for this recipe. Just one thing to remember : Use cold cream cheese not room temperature. Using cold cream cheese will make your frosting perfect and not runny.

I know many people from Facebook asked me for this recipe! So if this is you, leave me a comment! Sorry it took me so long to post!

Let’s start baking!

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