November 27, 2018
They're a delicacy in South and Central America, in parts of the Middle East and in many other Spanish speaking countries. Alfajores (pronounced Al-fah-HOAR-ess) are a caramel sandwich cookie that's a staple when it comes to sweets. Widely available in stores and bakeries in the aforementioned regions but also made at home, alfajores are a coveted sweet treat across Latin America, and they're now available at Calgary area Co-op stores.
Find Authentic Argentinian Alfajores at Co-op
"We are proud to be the first company to make alfajores in Canada. Alfajores are great with a cup of coffee or tea, they serve as a good gift for any occasion and they are excellent to serve at any party," explains Lisa Mansilla from Coco Karamel, a local Calgary-based business specializing in alfajores.
All About Alfajores: The History of a Caramely Cookie Confection
In Spain, there are a variety of different recipes for alfajores, but the most traditional contain flour, honey, almonds and cinnamon. In South American countries like Argentina, they're a bit different.
"We use two vanilla cornstarch cookies to sandwich Dulce de Leche, which is a sweet, creamy milk-based filling typical in Argentina," offers Mansilla.
While many people may refer to Dulce de Leche as caramel, it has a distinctly sweet and buttery taste that typical caramels don't.
Argentina is the world's largest consumer of alfajores, but they're also immensely popular in Peru.
Alfajores Baked in Calgary, with Authentic Filling
The cookies are sold individually wrapped in area Co-op stores; you might find them in the bakery, or the cafe. Gift box packages are coming for the holidays.
The cookies are baked here in Calgary, but the Dulce de Leche is sourced directly from Argentina.
"The best component of these cookies is that Dulce de Leche or sweet milk filling. It's the key to making these cookies. We get our Dulce de Leche directly from Argentina. We import an authentic version that's not otherwise available in Canada. It's the best quality version we've ever found," says Mansilla.
Falling in Love with Flavours of the World
Mansilla took an unlikely path to becoming an Argentinian cookie entrepreneur in Calgary. After traveling extensively and developing an interest in foreign flavours, she made her way to Argentina where she met her future husband.
Retuning to Canada, the pair wanted to find the delicious creamy-filled crumbly sandwich cookies they'd come to love in Argentina, and met a local woman named Marisa who was making them here in Calgary.
"Everyone who we'd given her alfajores to loved them," remembers Mansilla, "But she had decided it was time to hang up her apron. We decided to buy her business."
Marisa trained her, and Mansilla committed to making the authentic recipe and maintaining a high level of quality, both in the ingredients and the final product. Now she's thrilled to have her Alfajores carried in Co-op stores.
"It's pretty surreal. As an entrepreneur, you expect lot of no's, but Co-op tried them and liked them and have been so welcoming. Now I'm so proud to be one of the local suppliers to Co-op. The support this gives to my company and other local businesses really helps our economy."
Coco Karamel makes several styles of alfajores; there's a Traditional, with vanilla cookies and Dulce de Leche, Coconut, where the edge of the cookie is rolled in a little coconut, White Chocolate enrobed and a Chocolate Enrobed version.
Find authentic Argentinian Coco Karamel alfajores at Co-op.
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