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!
For the cookies
2 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
2/3 cup cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup of hazelnuts , toasted
2 tablespoons of powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 cup white granulated sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 tsps vanilla extract
For the filling
1 can dulce de leche. My favorite brand is La Lechera by Nestle.
Powdered sugar, sifted
1.- In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and cocoa powder, whisk to blend. Set aside.
2.- In the bowl of a food processor, combine the hazelnuts, powdered sugar, salt and cinnamon, and pulse until the hazelnuts are finely ground. Set aside.
3- In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the butter and granulated sugar. Beat on medium-high until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs and vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour and hazelnut mixtures to the bowl and mix in just until combined and a dough forms. Form into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap and chill until firm, at least 2 hours. I usually make my dough the night before I bake my cookies.
4.-Preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper .On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to 1/8-inch thick.
5.- To make the bottom cookie, simply take the cookie cutter apart by squeezing the edge and releasing. This will give you a cookie cutter to make the base/bottom cookie. Then, put the cookie cutter back together to make the top cookie. When pressing down on the dough with the cutter, simply press the ejector. Remember you will need the same amount of bottoms and tops.
6.-Transfer to the prepared baking sheets. Reroll dough scraps as needed.
7.-Place the cookies in the fridge for 10 minutes to chill. This will help to keep the shape of the cookies.
8.-Bake, rotating the pans halfway through the bake time, until beginning to brown and just set, about 10-12 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely before filling.
9- To fill the cookies: Place the cookies with the holes in them on a cookie sheet and sift the confectioners’ sugar over the top. Turn the remaining cookies flat side up and spoon 1/2 teaspoon of dulce de leche into the center. Stick both parts together and enjoy!