In recent weeks I’ve bemoaned the lack of authentic Mexican and Latin American foods here in Toronto, but for some reason, alfajores are pretty easy to find.
This traditional cookie of Argentina may have had origins in the Middle East, and now variations of it exist throughout Spain and Latin America. Basically, it’s made from two thin but soft cookies (sort of a cross between cake and shortbread) with a layer of dulce de leche or jam in between. Traditionally they are dusted with powdered sugar, but regional variations have cropped up. In Mexico they roll the outer edge in coconut; some places coat the cookie sandwich in “snow” (a blend of egg whites and sugar); and it’s also not unheard of for alfajores to be coated in either white or dark chocolate, although they should not be confused with the Wagon Wheel desserts school kids used to get in their lunch boxes.
To find them in Toronto, the best place to head is Kensington Market. There’s always big stacks of both the coconut and snow versions on the counter at Jumbo Empanadas (245 Augusta Avenue). Next door at Perola’s Supermarket (247 Augusta Avenue), there’s also alfajores at the counter and these make a great dessert after a couple of of tacos from the ladies at the back (weekends only).
Other places these cookies can be found include Aroma Espresso Bar (500 Bloor Street West); La Merceria (506 Adelaide Street West); Chachy’s Peruvian Restaurant (5429 Dundas Street West) and Johny Banana (181 Bathurst Street).
My personal favourites show up only twice a year, at Christmas and Easter. The Community Folk Art Council of Toronto hosts events at City Hall featuring either Christmas or Easter traditions from various countries around the world. Each country has a display of food and decorations and also offers some food items for sale; the lady at the booth from Chile makes the best alfajores I’ve ever had.
Finally, in cruising Google, I’ve come across a couple of queries where people are looking for a particular brand of alfajores from Argentina called Havana. I’ve never seen these available anywhere in Toronto, but Perola’s would be the first place I’d look.