The alfajor is a treat and an Argentine food. An alfajor is a traditional treat of many Latin American countries, mainly in Argentina. Other countries with tradition of alfajores are Peru, Uruguay, Chile and Spain.
This candy is composed of two cookies/biscuits joined in the center by a sweet filling (dulce de leche, dulce de leche, chocolate, mousse, among others) and is usually bathed in chocolate or glaze.
The word “alfajor” is derived from the Arabic “[al-hasu]”, whose meaning is “padding.” The alfajor entered Iberia during the al-Andalus period with the entry of the Arabs to the European continent. According to the Argentine Food Code, article 132, “Alfajor: product consisting of two or more cookies, cookies or baked dough, separated from each other by fillings such as jams, jellies, or other sweets, being able to have a bath or outer covering.”
Where was the Alfajor born?
Where was the Alfajor born?
In Argentina it has a tradition of more than 130 years however, Argentines cannot themselves as the inventors of the alfajor. Alfajor, like nougat, syrup or marzipan, is an ancient culinary invention of Arabic origin and traditionally made from a paste of almonds, nuts, and honey.
The alfajor was introduced in Spain towards the beginning of the 8th century when the last King of the Visigoths was defeated by the Arabs. This Muslim invasion of the Iberian peninsula extended for centuries until the end of the fifteenth century, and the Iberian territory under Muslim rule during this period is known as al-Andalus. Undoubtedly, the Arab influence of that time is present today throughout this area, and culinary customs are no exception. There is today in Medina de Sidonia, in the province of Andalusia, a Group of Producers of Alfajores that have achieved the Indication of Protected Origin (I.G.P.), as well as the best wines in the world that have their “Indication of Controlled Origin” I.O.C. or D.O.C. by its acronym in French.
Types of Alfajores
Types of Alfajores
There are many types of alfajores, Regional, Industrial and Premium to mention some. Others include Chocolate, Dulce De Leche, Cordobes, Santafecino. Argentina is without a doubt the only place in the world where the alfajor took on in so many different forms. There are dark chocolate, white chocolate, puff pastry, and cookies. Depending on the texture of the cookie, it is divided between hard and soft. The hard ones are those whose cookies break when they are bitten. According to the number of cookies they have, they are divided into simple (two cookies with a filling and a dipped) and triple (three cookies, 2 fillings that can be different and a dipped) The fillings are the most varied: of dulce de leche, chocolate, fruit candy, quince jam, mousse.
And as you can see, the segmentation of the alfajores can be done by the filling, by its origin, by the market target to which they point. A typical segmentation is as follows:
Present in different parts of the country, with the origin as its commercialization key. Regional Alfajores can be of quince with puff pastry tops. The regional alfajores are present in different parts of the country, usually, tourists, where the tradition is to bring alfajores from the place visited to share with family and friends upon return. A typical phrase is “I brought alfajores” when going on vacation somewhere in the country.
Although each Argentine province has some type of alfajor, the most typical Argentine regions of alfajores are:
- Córdoba – Cordobes Type. Usually filled with fruit sweets. Quince being one of the most traditional, the cordovan alfajor is light, with little or no chocolate and mostly glazed.
- Santa Fe – Santafecino Type. Rogel type, with no less than three (triple) biscuits formed by puff pastry, filled with dulce de leche and glazes. There are also industrialized being its two greatest exponents Alfajores Merengo and Gayalí.
- Mar del plata – Marplatenses Type“The Costa Argentina”, with spas that go from San Clemente del Tuyú to the north and even for example Las Grutas to the south. They are mostly SMEs but there are cases such as Havanna and Balcarce (origin Mar del Plata) that are already considered as leaders in the Premium segment with national and even international presence. They mostly use their own sales points as a distribution channel.
Generally present throughout the country via multiple marketing channels, targeting the mass market, where there is the greatest number of brands and tastes. Industrial Alfajores are sold in kiosks, supermarkets and large stores. The industrialists arise from a series manufacturing, automated, and without the intervention of man. This type of production guarantees homogeneity in the quality and completion of the product. In this case the target market is that of mass consumption.
There are a large number of industrial brands in Argentina. Some reports have detected more than 50, but if you consider the line extensions of each brand, this amount is negligible. As an example, the Alfajor Terrabusi has, among others, varieties such as black, white, simple, triple, lemon pie, strawberries with cream, meringue and dulce de leche. Brands are generally oriented to all socioeconomic categories and it is in this segment that the investment in advertising is greater. With wholesale and retail distribution channels, the points of sale of this segment are the most varied: kiosks, supermarket gondolas, hypermarkets, warehouses, pharmacies, fuel stations, etc.
They have a sophisticated packaging, high quality of its components, high market target and available through specific channels. Premium Alfajores are sold in delicatessen and gourmet chains. The market of premium alfajores has as a target segment the high socioeconomic.
The most outstanding features of this segment are the quality of its ingredients, a more sophisticated packaging, and specialized outlets such as delicatessen and gourmet chains. There are them with national brands (Havanna, Balcarce) and also with their own brand of the delicatessen chain. In the latter case, prices are much higher than industrial prices since they are generally 100% handmade. Industrial products, with brands like Terrabusi, also entered this segment with a Delicias line with Lemon Pie products and Strawberries with Cream.