alfajores, wooden table baking
Wooden Table Baking Co. expanded its baking facility to meet the demand for its alfajores cookies.

As more consumers embrace world cuisines, the all-American cookie is taking on decidedly global flavors. Demand continues to grow for such cookies as sablés from France, Pfeffernuse cookies from Germany, matcha butter cookies from Japan, pignolis from Italy, polvorones from Mexico, and alfajores from Argentina.

As one example, Wooden Table Baking Co. recently renovated a 5,000-square-foot commercial kitchen, distribution center and office headquarters in Oakland, doubling the size of its business. The expansion will enable Wooden Table to satisfy rising demand for its popular alfajores.

The company reports that sales have increased six-fold since 2011. “This is an exciting and hectic time for us,” says founder and head baker Andreas Ozzuna. “We’re thrilled to be able to invest locally, expand our production capabilities, and have more room for creativity in the kitchen.”

Alfajores are traditional cookies from Argentina, as well as other South American countries. They are filled with dulce de leche (caramelized milk) that is sandwiched between two shortbread cookies.

On a related note, caramel is now the fastest-growing flavor of bakery desserts sold at the nation’s top 500 chains, according to Technomic research, highlighting the increased consumer demand for distinctive flavor.

Encouraged by cookie fans nearly a decade ago, Ozzuna started selling alfajores to local coffee shops. “I went to each coffee shop and left samples. I grew the business mostly by offering our alfajores to stores, giving samples, being persistent and respectful at the same time,” Ozzuna says.

This persistence has paid off. Wooden Table currently produces over 12,000 cookies per week, according to the company, selling in multiple supermarkets and coffee shops. Dedicated to organic and non-GMO ingredients, Wooden Table uses local suppliers like Guittard Chocolate, Challenge Butter and Guisto Flour.

Blending Cultures

For more than 60 years, Campbell’s Bakery established itself as the community bakery of Brentwood, New York, a town that is known as “the jewel of Long Island.” While the Hispanic community has grown rapidly here over the years, with Hispanics now accounting for 65 percent of the population of Brentwood, Campbell’s has adjusted its product line accordingly to meet the needs of the local neighborhood.

There are other Hispanic bakeries in town, but what distinguishes Campbell’s from others is its long-standing tradition in the area and its unique product line, which features a mix of Hispanic and Italian breads, pastries and sweet goods. Campbell’s started as an Italian bakery many years ago. Now it continues to sell Italian hard rolls, bagels, rye bread, strawberry shortcake, black forest cake, pignoli cookies, cannoli and Napoleons.

Greg Napolitano, who runs day-to-day operations at Campbell’s, says that it is not uncommon for Hispanic customers in the neighborhood to buy Italian pastries to go along with their tres leches cakes, conchas and polvorones. The same is true for non-Hispanic customers who come in to buy Italian cookies and walk out the door with a variety of Italian and Hispanic sweets to enjoy. “Our bakery is a hidden treasure in Brentwood,” he says.

European Heritage

In similar fashion, 40 years ago, a husband and wife team had a dream to create the perfect cookie, one that delighted the senses while satisfying every palate. Four decades later, the company has continued to grow and expand in both industry expertise and product innovation.

Chocolate cinnamon sable cookies from Donsuemor.

As part of its 40th birthday celebration, Donsuemor has unveiled two new products: vanilla bean and chocolate cinnamon sablé cookies. With the release of the sablé (pronounced sah-blay) cookies, Donsuemor is paying homage to its European heritage. Sablé is the French word for sandy, and the sablé is Donsuemor’s version of the ever popular sandy cookie, a light shortbread with an indulgent granular texture.

The chocolate cinnamon sablé is created using rich Dutch cocoa, semi-sweet chocolate chips, spicy cinnamon, and artisanal sea salt. The vanilla bean sablé uses real Madagascar vanilla bean, delicate olive oil, and artisanal sea salt.

“We are thrilled to add another classic treat to the Donsuemor family of products to kick off our 40th birthday celebration,” says Laure Chatard, director of sales at Donsuemor. “The cookie represents what is at the heart of Donsuemor’s heritage.”

Creative Inclusions

Another way to add distinctive flavor to traditional cookies is by adding creative flavors of inclusions. Parker Products, approaching its 90th year in business as a supplier of food and beverage ingredients including inclusions, flavor systems and grinds, recently rebranded to more fully communicate its growing product offerings. Parker launched the new brand with a refreshed booth design and creative application concepts at the 2016 Winter Fancy Food Show, January 17-19 in San Francisco. The company exhibited a range of creative application concepts using its ingredients, including peppermint latte chocolate bark, raspberry crunch mini cupcakes, and toffee crunch sugar cookies.

Parker offers creative inclusions, flavor systems, and grinds like agave glazed quinoa, blueberry rosemary fruit prep, and natural peppermint candy grind.

“Parker has experienced some exciting growth in recent years, and our product and service offerings have evolved accordingly,” says Greg Hodder, president. “From becoming a peanut-free facility in 2012 to our recent partnership with Dot Foods for distribution, we felt that as we approached our 90th anniversary, we needed a refreshed story to help us fully demonstrate our value to the food and beverage industry.”

Parker selected the Winter Fancy Food Show to launch the brand due to the show’s association with specialty foods and creative product development. “The Winter Fancy Food Show has always been a show that represents creativity, and one that we’ve had success with,” says Melanie Cochrane, national sales manager at Parker. “We’re excited to show off the creativity of our outstanding R&D team. From all-natural items to our blueberry rosemary fruit prep to our renowned bake-stable toffee, we believe we have a lot to offer the food industry.”

Founded in 1926 by I.C. Parker, creator of the famous Drumstick novelty, Parker has been dedicated to intriguing consumers with exciting new flavors, textures, and visual elements. Parker helps food companies engage their customers with more exciting, appealing products through an extensive line of ingredients including inclusions, flavor systems, and grinds. Specific lines range from praline nuts and bake-stable candies to coatings, fillings, and fruit preps.