When Haddenham-based luxury chocolatiers, SUR, offered us the chance to try their signature alfajores we jumped at the opportunity. Days later an exquisite box of sweet, shiny, chocolate-covered Argentinian delicacies arrived at the office and we were instantly hooked. SUR is something of a labour of love, owned by Maria (chocolatier and creator) and husband Emanuel, (PR and marketer). Both are fired with a passion to share their Latin American take on chocolaterie. We couldn’t think of a more appropriate story to share in our February ‘Love’ edition…
Emanuel, let’s start with what brought you to the UK.
Long story short, Maria went to a bilingual school where she studied English Literature, and her dream was to visit the places described in the books. When she was 18 years old she came the UK and instantly fell in love with the country. She returned to Argentina to finish cooking studies, then come back to England to train as pastry chef at the iconic The Savoy Hotel. Three years later we met at a bar in Argentina, fell in love, got married and then I followed her back to the UK; I was happy to go into any new adventure with her.
Did you work together before setting up a business?
We moved house and country several times, helped each other on career and studies, had two children abroad with no family support and in a second language. That was a good training for setting up a business.
What is an alfajor?
An alfajor is the most popular chocolate treat in South America. When do we eat them? When you need a bite of love. Example (and true story) when Messi was six years-old he would be promised an alfajor every time he scored a goal for his team. If it was with his feet it would be one, if he scored with his head two. Once he scored six goals and they were seven players on the team, so he gave one to each of them and he did not have one for himself and didn’t mind. It’s all about sharing and being happy. The alfajor creates the special moment in time.
Which are your most popular flavours?
Oh, that’s a hard one! With all of our Limited Editions it is a long list. The most popular so far are: Chocotorta, 70% Negro and Cortado. Some of our customers are culturally curious and they try all the flavours. Others just go for the popular ones, especially with Dulce de Leche as filling.
What distinguishes Argentinian chocolate?
Dulce de Leche (our special milk caramel) with everything. The classic alfajores with Dulce de Leche filling are heaven for us. At SUR we use Argentinian ingredients like Yerba Mate, Malbec wine or Patagonian salt. We are in the journey of bringing flavours and combinations from our culture here, as many of them are unknown but amazing.
How did you choose the name, SUR Chocolates?
Our first daughter was just three months-old and everything was mad and upside down. So we started playing a game were we would imagine happy places together. We dreamed of having a chocolate business. This brought lots of new questions; what would it look like? How would be named?
Maria had this song stuck in her head. The song is a tango called Vuelvo al SUR, I Go Back to the South. The most beautiful part is the lyrics of the song: ‘go back to SUR as you always go back to love’.
How do you manage professional differences at home or marital differences at work?
We manage everything in the same way, we can’t divide ourselves on work mode and family mode. There is no secret recipe for us, it is really like a new baby – no guidelines for your personal situation. There are times we agree and some that we do not, that only means that we need to negotiate and compromise. Most of all I think we respect each other profoundly. The goal is everyone has to be happy about the result, otherwise there is no happy ending. We cannot leave with unresolved issues: we live together.
Finally, with Valentine’s Day coming up, how will you be celebrating?
Ultimately, we are ready for the imperfection: kids around, work, last minute plans, etc. We embrace it with a smile, knowing that we have each other…and we have alfajores, too.
Argentinian Alfajores by Chef Chocolatier Maria Romero
Ingredients | Makes 20
- 120g unsalted butter
- 80g icing sugar
- 1 orange zest
- 1 egg
- 1 tbsp honey
- 200g self-raising flour
- 5g cocoa powder
- 500g dulce de leche (Repostero)
- 600g 70% dark chocolate callets (discs)
- Preheat the oven at 190°C. Using a food processor or mixer, blend the butter, icing sugar and zest. Add the egg with the honey and continue mixing until pale and creamy. Sift in flour and cacao powder and mix without overworking the dough. Rest in the fridge for two hours, wrapped in cling film.
- Roll out the dough to 2mm thick and cut out 6cm discs. Place the biscuits on a tray lined with baking paper, leaving a bit of space between each one. Bake for six minutes. Allow to cool.
- Fill a piping bag with dulce de leche and cut the tip 1cm wide. Fill in the centre of a biscuit. Cover with a second biscuit turned upside down (to ensure the outer sides of the alfajores are both as flat as possible)
- Temper the chocolate and submerge the alfajores one at a time. Make sure each one is fully coated with chocolate, using a palette knife to remove excess from the top and smooth the base on the rim of the bowl. Place carefully on a tray lined with greaseproof paper or cellophane. Once the chocolate dries, the alfajores are ready to eat.
by Seeding method
- Melt in 30 seconds intervals 400g of chocolate in the microwave. Mix slowly in between to even the temperature until it reaches 45°C
- Add 50g of chocolate callets and softly mix. This will melt the chocolate and lower its temperature. Repeat with less amount each time until 35°C.
- Keep slowly mixing to cool until 31 °C. Then it will be ready to use.
If you’re near Haddenham, pop into SUR to discover the range for yourself, or browse the website for online orders