Bakers Journal

Tips on making alfajores de maicena (Argentinian cookie sandwiches) from award-winning Canadian baker

January 4, 2024
By Bakers Journal

Photo: Gennaro Rotondaro

Vaughan, Ont. – Gennaro Rotondaro of Vaughan, Ont., has put Canada on the map by winning the gold medal twice at the Alfajor World Championships for his alfajores de maicena, a traditional Argentinian cookie sandwich filled with dulce de leche.

Rotondaro is launching an online bakery – Gennaro’s Artisanal Alfajores – featuring this specialty he learned from his mother and a beloved aunt in Argentina.

“I started making alfajores de maicena as a means of preserving and perfecting a cherished family recipe, which I learned from my mother Maria, who learned it from my great aunt Carmella who passed away in 2017, which was when my journey began,” Rotondaro said. “I was fascinated by the history and the diversity of alfajores, which date back to the 16th century and have many regional variations across Latin America and Spain.”

In 2022 he won the gold medal at the Alfajor World Championships in the traditional category, beating more than 300 participants from 15 countries, including many professional bakers and pastry chefs from Argentina.

He was invited to defend his title in the 2023 Alfajor World Championships held in Buenos Aires.

“I made my Alfajores de Maicena with the same recipe and technique that I used in 2022, but with some minor tweaks and improvements to our packaging,” Rotondaro I was amazed and honoured to win the gold medal again, becoming the first person, and a Canadian to boot, to win two consecutive gold medal championships in the traditional category. I was even invited to be on the national TV channel Telefe.”

 

The process of crafting the perfect alfajor is a labour of love, a symphony of tradition and innovation, Rotondaro says. “Our artisanal family recipe, passed down through generations, is the cornerstone of every delicate creation.”

Here the award-winning chef shares tips and insights into making this delicacy with roots in South America and regional variations in Latin America and Spain.

  1. Freshness is key: The soul of our alfajores lies in the freshness of our ingredients. From the velvety dulce de leche to the fragrant vanilla and lemon zest, each component is carefully selected to ensure the highest quality and authentic taste.
  2. The alchemy of dough: Achieving the ideal texture for our dough is an art. We meticulously balance the ingredients to create a dough that is soft, crumbly and silky. It’s a dance of precision to find that sweet spot that melts in your mouth with every bite.
  3. Infusing aromas for an extra layer of delight: The subtle aromas in our dough – a hint of vanilla, a zest of lemon, and a touch of cognac – elevate the sensory experience. It’s not just about taste; it’s about creating a moment of indulgence with each bite.
  4. Crafting the perfect wafer: The size and thickness of our wafers are crucial. We employ a technique that ensures consistency, rolling the dough to just the right thickness. The delicate embossing adds an extra layer of sophistication to our golden creations.
  5. The art of filling: The proportion of filling to wafer is an art in itself. We carefully measure and craft, ensuring a harmonious balance that tantalizes your palate without overwhelming it. The filling must be just right: not too runny, not too firm.
  6. Protection, preservation, presentation: Our meticulous packaging is designed with a purpose – to protect, preserve and present. Each alfajor is a work of art and we want it to reach you in the same perfect condition as it leaves our kitchen.
  7. Satisfying diverse desires: Recognizing the diversity of our customers, we offer multiple options.
  8. Customization expertise: Beyond crafting delectable alfajores, Gennaro’s takes pride in our customization expertise. With precision embossing rolling pins and stamps, we collaborate with luxury brands to create unique culinary signatures. Not only do we tailor the taste experience, but our customization extends to packaging, ensuring that every collaboration is a masterpiece that reflects the essence of both Gennaro’s and our partners.

Rotondaro is focused on customization and is excited about collaborations with luxury brands.

You can visit Gennaro’s website or follow the business on Instagram @gennarosalfajores.


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