When Flickr user Momma Cupcake contacted me recently about her new Dessert Wars contest, I wasn't sure I could fit more baking into this week's busy schedule. That was before I saw the theme (Nutella!) and prizes (details below) though! Needless to say, I crossed the distance from on-the-fence to eagerly-on-board faster than you can say "Nutella-holic." Also with World Nutella Day just a week away, I couldn't help but join in on the fun!
For anyone who's unfortunate enough to have never tried Nutella =p, it's an amazingly rich and creamy chocolate hazelnut spread that's fantastic on everything from crepes to cakes to my fingers. If you're still hungry to learn more, click right here.
Readers who're familiar with the alfajores from South America may have already dubbed these cookies a misnomer. And you would be right. These chocolate cookies hardly resemble the tender white biscuits enclosing decadent dulce de leche caramel that we know and love as alfajores. Still this recipe was in fact adapted from one for true alfajores, and thus the title pays homage to that history :).
As much as I adore traditional alfajores, I find this version to be a true treat in its own right. Both crisp and tender, the lightly chocolatey cookies complement the generous smear of Nutella inside. Rolling them through fragrant, lightly roasted crushed hazelnuts makes for enhanced flavor and presentation. If you're looking for a sweet indulgence for World Nutella Day, Valentine's Day, or any other day of the year, I hope your search ends here ;).
I'm submitting this to the Nutella-themed January challenge for Dessert Wars. The winner of this challenge will receive the following prizes:
- Whisk and cupcake necklace from Moon & Star Designs
- The Smartshopper Electronic Grocery List Organizer
- Beanilla Sampler Pack of Vanilla Beans
- Lenox Personalized Musical Cupcake
- 1,000 ideas for Decorating Cupcakes, Cookies & Cakes-Endless Vanilla and Cinnamon Extract
- Unlimited Layers: A Recipe for Turning Your Passion into Profits
- $50 Gift Certificate to Theme Kitchen
- $50 Coupon Redeemable for Organic Valley Products
- $50 Coupon Redeemable for Organic Prairie Products
Thank you to all our prize sponsors!
I'm also submitting this to World Nutella Day, hosted by Sara of Ms Adventures in Italy and Michelle of Bleeding Espresso, which will be on February 5.
Chocolate Nutella Alfajores [Printable Recipe]
Adapted from Aromas Y Sabores
Makes about 3 dozen 1 1/2-inch cookie sandwiches
1 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/8 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
7 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
1 large egg yolk, room temperature
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp brandy (optional)
1/2 cup Nutella or other chocolate hazelnut spread
1/2 to 3/4 cup hazelnuts, toasted and finely chopped
Sift together flour, cornstarch, cocoa powder, salt, and baking powder. Set aside.
Using a handheld electric or stand mixer, beat butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add whole egg and yolk and beat until incorporated. Add vanilla and brandy and mix well. Finally add the flour mixture and mix by hand using a wooden spoon or spatula until you get a soft dough. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight.
Preheat the oven to 275 degrees F. Divide dough into 3 equal parts, and work on one at a time while keeping the rest covered. On a floured work surface, roll out dough to desired thickness, between 1/16 and 1/8-inch. Cut into rounds (traditional shape) or whatever shape you choose. Save scraps to re-roll (only once) and use at the end. Transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicon mat. Bake for 12 to 16 minutes, depending on size of cutter. Cookies should be just cooked but not browned. Repeat rolling, cutting, and baking cookies until all the dough is used up. Let all cookies cool completely.
Transfer chopped hazelnuts into a medium bowl; set aside. Once cookies have cooled, spread a spoonful of Nutella on one cookie and top it with another of similar shape and size. Press together gently, then roll edges of cookie sandwich in chopped hazelnuts. Repeat with remaining cookies.