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This perfectly circular Argentinian food, pronounced “alpha whole” in its singular format (not my gag, but I whip it out when I can) embodies everything Argentinians relish putting in their mouths. Is it a cake? Is it a biscuit? Who cares? An alfajor can combine chocolate, dulce de leche, meringue, coconut, icing sugar, jam and even mousse – it would be an all-encompassing meal if only it had a meaty filling. Now there’s a thought…

As any armchair linguist knows, Spanish words beginning with “al” have Arabic roots and this favourite sweet Argentinian food is no exception, coming from the Hispano-Arabic al-hasú for “the filling.” Although this sentiment clearly refers to the middle bit of this cake-biscuit (biscake, anyone?), an alfajor is certainly, in my case, a mission I think twice about undertaking – just the half for me.

The history of alfajores stretches back to the 16th century in southern Spain and as immigrants made their way to the New World, the alfajor ended up on the banks of the River Plate. This chocolate-coated biscake also found its way to Peru, where it was used to fill up hungry Spanish soldiers. That’s right, they came, they ate alfajores and they conquered. For a bit. Indeed, the alfajor even turns up in Mateo Alemán’s picaresque novel Guzmán de Alfarache (1599).

However, the modern alfajor recipe shouldn’t be confused with the finger-shaped Andalucian one which is an almond, honey and walnut gastronomic time bomb. Having ditched nutty, gooey goodness of Spanish-slash-Arabic origin for gooey goodness incorporating a milk, dark or white chocolate coating and a local dulce de leche filling, the alfajor has certainly adopted an Argentinian identity.

Now emblematic with holidays, good times and tea time, their popularity peaked alongside the coastal resort of Mar del Plata in the 1950s when brands such as Havanna and Balcarce began mass production of finger-lickin’ foil-wrapped goodness, but also spawning retro anti-classics such as Capitán del Espacio. When the Buenos Aires masses upped sticks for two weeks’ sun and fun, they’d inevitably bring back a dozen to share among friends and family.

Other cities have added special ingredients to make alfajores recipes their own. In Córdoba you’ll eat quince-filled alfajores while Santa Fe is renowned for flaky ones, guaranteed to make a mess and overloaded with dulce de leche. Across the River Plate in 2010, 25 industrious chefs got together in Minas, Uruguay, to celebrate their first National Alfajor Day to make a Guinness World Record-size alfajor which weighed in at 464 kilos. Yikes.

I’ve asked around but no Argentinian has denied to me their desire to gobble up an alfajor. It’s an integral part of the diet in Argentina, so much so I believe it’s now part of their genetic make-up.

The best brands of Alfajores that you can find in the United States are: HAVANNA - CACHAFAZ and if you can not make them yourself! You can find the real Alfajores on our website by following this link

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