Latin American Bakery ‘Dulceology’ Opens in Federal Hill

| September 23, 2020 | 0 Comments

Dulceology, a bakery inspired by El Salvadoran and Latin American desserts, has opened at 1138 S. Charles St. in Federal Hill. The first-floor retail space was previously a real estate office and mental health services business in recent years. Dulceology owners and sisters Alejandra and Nicole Leiva spent recent months transforming the space into the retail and commercial bakery.

The Leivas were born in El Salvador, grew up in the Washington, D.C. area after immigrating to the United States, and graduated from Towson University. They said they have a lot of fond memories of trips to Baltimore growing up and immediately fell in love with Federal Hill after taking a walk through the neighborhood.

One of the specialties of Dulceology is Alfajores, which are a popular cookie in Latin America, especially in Argentina, Chile, and Peru. The shortbread-style cookie sandwiches are filled with a rich dulce de leche filling, and can be dusted with powdered sugar or covered in chocolate. The origin of Alfajores dates back to Northern Africa before the cookies were introduced to Spain and then made their way to Latin America. Alfajor translates to luxury in Arabic.

The Leivas grew up around food as their father manufactured restaurant equipment and their mother was a chef. They came across a recipe from their mother and grandmother for Alfajores and challenged themselves to make them. They immediately fell in love with them and soon started giving them as gifts to friends. They then started selling them on Etsy in 2015 and have now shipped them to every state and to Puerto Rico.

When Alejandra Leiva was a graduate student at George Washington University, the sisters entered the school’s 2019 New Venture Competition and were selected as one of the winners. They received a $20,000 grant and were invited into a business accelerator program.

In the accelerator they learned that customers are looking for places to connect with them. Since Dulceology was mostly an online business, they knew they needed a storefront in a supportive neighborhood. “We immediately picked out the community and vibe that fits our brand,” said Alejandra Leiva.

In reference to Federal Hill she said, “we couldn’t imagine being anywhere else.”

Many of Dulceology’s returning clients are businesses and real estate agents who were giving the cookies as gifts or bringing them to office parties. The Alfajores can be personalized with logos, and the Leivas noted the cookies are more personal than just giving a bottle of wine. Dulceology uses 3D printing technologies for molding and personalizing the cookies.

Customers at Dulceology can get many different flavors of Alfajores which will change with the season. They also offer gluten-free and vegan options. Alfajores are $2 each or six for $11.

Dulceology also sells tres leches, sweet empanadas, eclairs, meringues, El Salvadoran quesadillas, and  fruit-topped pavlovas. It will also be rolling out a selection of daily cakes, which will include red velvet and vanilla caramel, and pies. Dulceology offers wedding cakes and can produce large orders of all of its products for events and catering. Dulceology plans to start offering savory items like fresh baked breads in the future.

Drinks at Dulceology include sparkling waters and coffee.

Dulceology will also be a “mini flower shop” with different bouquets and additional gift items. The Leivas hope it will be a popular stop for holidays like Valentine’s Day, Christmas, and anniversaries.

The interior of Dulceology is filled with light with its large windows facing S. Charles St. and West St. The interior features a large display counter and four tables for dining in. The Leivas worked with a contractor to transform the space but also put together a lot of the design touches that include green walls and pink accents.

The Leivas moved into their space, which is now the home to all of their production and new retail offerings, last week. The COVID-19 pandemic slowed down the opening of Dulceology due to delays in the permitting process.

The Leivas are happy to finally open and have enjoyed their conversations with Federal Hill locals.  The sisters have noticed the vibrant business scene in Federal Hill and are looking to connect with as many residents and businesses as possible.

The shop is open every Sunday to Friday from 11am to 7pm.

Photo courtesy of Dulceology. Nicole and Alejandra Leiva

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Founder and Publisher of SouthBmore.com, longtime resident of South Baltimore, and a graduate of Towson University. Diehard Ravens and O's fan, beach volleyball enthusiast, dog lover, and "bar food" foodie. Email me at [email protected] and follow me on Twitter at @SoBoKevin.
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