Jessy's

[Photograph: Laura Togut]

Jessy Nahmias's business, Jessy's Pastries, got its start on the crafty supersite Etsy when she noticed that some vendors sold food items. "I always liked to bake desserts," she explains, "so on a whim, I put my alfajores up for sale." The dulce de leche cookies sold and sold again and, she says, "after selling for the third time, I decided there was something there and set up a website."

She started her in-person sales at holiday school events on Long Island near her home, and then moved on to the Hester Street Fair and Artists & Fleas.

Initially, she offered coconut macaroons and banana bread as well, but found that her customers really preferred her Peruvian specialties. She makes the dulce de leche for the alfajores herself, though she admits it's a time-consuming process. "It's just milk and sugar. You have to have a lot of patience, you just have to stir and wait." While the resulting product bears more than a passing resemblance to caramel, it's less sweet and more complex.

She uses the same crumbly, buttery cookies for each flavor of her alfajores: the classic, where they sandwich straight dulce de leche; rum, where she adds a bit of the spirit to the filling; coconut, the classic cookie rolled in sweetened coconut flakes; and nutella, which swaps out the dulce de leche for the popular chocolate hazelnut spread. She's working on a salted caramel variation too, and hopes to have it available this summer.

In addition to the cookies, Nahmias also sells savory, flaky-crusted baked empanadas, though only at Artists & Fleas. She has chicken and beef varieties, but says the vegetarian version with black beans, corn, and red pepper, always sells out first. She hopes to debut a vegan empanada soon: "it's important in Brooklyn."

Nahmias will have more room for production and recipe development soon, since she's set to join Long Island's first shared-use kitchen in early July. The space, A Taste of Long Island in Farmingdale, also will have a specialty food market in order to make locally produced goods available to the public.

About the author: Stephanie Klose has more mustard than you. You can follow her on twitter at @sklose.

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