Sisters bring a taste of Argentina to Gig Harbor

Business: Cakesbyck features custom cakes, traditional desserts

of the GatewayDecember 25, 2013 

Sisters Carolina Konkol and Celeste Palo are bringing different desserts to Gig Harbor. Alfajores, Guava cookies and Alfajores de Maicena are available at Cakesbyck on the downtown waterfront.

Cakesbyck, next to El Pueblito, opened in late-November. The store makes custom cakes and also sells packaged, fresh-baked cookies, home goods and tea. Special soap, made with felt, has been a popular item. Glass ornaments Palo makes hang from the ceiling.

Both originally from Argentina, the sisters make desserts from their country. Alfajores are like the donuts of Argentina, Konkol said.

They’re everywhere, so taste tests are simple.

“It’s something you eat all your life,” Konkol said.

Cookies come packaged in bags and boxes. Some, like the Alfajores, are individually wrapped. That way, it’s a taste of Argentina for those unfamiliar, Palo said.

“The thing with our product is, you need to try it,” she said. “It is very unique ... nobody has what we have.”

Konkol moved to the United States from Argentina about 10 years ago. She originally went to Alabama and moved to the Northwest in July 2012. Her husband is a chef at the Sand Point Country Club in Seattle. She hopes to move to Gig Harbor in February.

Konkol fell in love with the city after an accidental trip across the Narrows bridge. She called Palo to tell her all about the new town she’d discovered.

Palo moved to Gig Harbor this year from Florida. She came to the United States from Argentina 14 years ago. After years of constant heat, Palo was ready for all four seasons.

“You actually need some winter,” she said.

Alfajores are two moist cookies sandwiched together with dulce de leche filling in the middle, then covered in chocolate.

Alfajores de Maicena also are moist corn starch cookies with dulce de leche, but instead of being covered in chocolate, the pastry is rolled in dried coconut. At Cakesbyck, Alfajores are $4 each, or $15 for a box of six.

For the holidays, there have been peppermint additions to traditional desserts, and cake balls decorated as reindeer with pretzels for antlers. Konkol makes seasonal cake balls — bunnies for Easter, hearts for Valentines day, and more.

The frosting for custom cakes is Argentinian buttercream, similar to Italian buttercreams, Konkol said. It’s all homemade.

Konkol uses fondants for more intricate designs. She recently made a Harry Potter-themed cake for a birthday. Designs are custom ordered. All of it started with her son’s first birthday cake, and now he’s 6.

Konkol saw a duck-shaped cake online. She thought she could make it and enlisted Palo to help.

“I can do that, so easy,” Konkol recalled saying.

It wasn’t as easy as they thought, because they were fighting with the cake, Palo said. It might not have turned out exactly like the picture, but it still turned out, and Konkol started to make more cakes.

Konkol doesn’t have a sweet tooth, but Palo does. She’s the taste tester for Cakesbyck.

“She has me as her guinea pig,” Palo said.

Konkol started out making cake balls at a coffee shop in Alabama. Then she branched out, got more creative and introduced traditional desserts to the menu. What she made started to sell out. Then she moved into catering. Cakesbyck is her first store experience.

Konkol uses a commercial kitchen in Renton, but she hopes to move to the Gig Harbor area. Cookies are made fresh every Monday, Palo said. Using no preservatives, the sisters said they aim for fresh goods.

Cakesbyck is open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.

If you go

Cakesbyck is located at 3226 Harborview Drive in downtown Gig Harbor, next to El Pueblito.

Reporter Karen Miller can be reached at 253-358-4155 or by email at karen.miller@gateline.com. Follow her on Twitter, @gateway_karen.

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