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These Mexican-Argentine cookies show off the best flavors from their inspirations

Alfajor de Nuez, a walnut-studded cookie created by Arturo Enciso and Ana Belén Salatino of Gusto Bread.
(Portrait by Christina House / Los Angeles Times; cookie photo by Silvia Razgova / For The Times; food and prop styling by Leah Choi)

We asked several L.A.-area pastry chefs and cooks to contribute their favorite holiday cookies. Each is a simple, homestyle cookie that reflects the contributor’s memories of holidays past.

Arturo Enciso and Ana Belén Salatino

Owners of Gusto Bread

Arturo: We come from different backgrounds — Ana from Argentina, myself from Mexico — and we wanted to create a cookie with those heritages in mind.

In Mexico, you have polvorones, or Mexican wedding cookies, and where my mom is from in northern Mexico, you find bizcochos. I remember eating them a lot at bakeries growing up. It was a cookie that was always around.

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Ana: And I grew up with alfajores. They’re the type of cookie that there’s lots of average ones, but it’s hard to find that one very special version. The cookie is usually messed up and made of cornstarch, so it’s either too crumbly or too hard.

Arturo: When we started making polvorones, I thought of alfajores, because they’re not too sweet and have a really rich nut flavor. I thought walnuts would be a good substitute for the traditional cornstarch in alfajores, because it’s just crumbly enough and gives it a nice texture, so why not combine the two?

Ana: In Argentina, we put dulce de leche on everything, so that works here too — nuts and dulce de leche work well together.

Arturo: We could still put coconut around the edges, because, yeah, it’s a fusion, but let’s keep some elements so both cookies are still recognizable. For us, the cookie is special for the holidays because it looks snowy and is really rich and decadent. It’s a cozy cookie that feels festive.

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— As told to Ben Mims

Alfajor de Nuez (Walnut Cookies With Dulce de Leche and Coconut)

Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Yields Makes 2 dozen


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