We shared dessert recipes by three Arkansas foodies with a passion for baking in our December issue. Now, we’re giving you a chance to get to know each a little better through a series of Q&As on our blog.
Sole Icaza, Amarantha Baked Goods
Home base: Cave Springs
Featured recipes: Walnut and Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread and Traditional South American Alfajores
At Home in Arkansas: How and when did you get into baking?
Sole Icaza: I’ve always found it very relaxing, almost therapeutic, to bake. I enjoy the smell in my kitchen—it’s very comforting. Growing up in Chile, my mother would always have some freshly baked pies, loafs, cakes, or bread in our house, and having some homemade sweets was very important in our family. Baking was a way for my mom to express her love and care for us. Still now, we are always sharing and trying new recipes, and that helps close the distance between us and brings us closer.
AH: What is your connection to Arkansas?
SI: While I’m originally from Chile, my family and I have had the opportunity to live in wonderful places like Mexico, Germany, and Austin, Texas. My husband accepted a position in Bentonville, and we and our three girls moved to Northwest Arkansas almost two years ago. We are having the best experience falling in love with this wonderful community.
AH: Are you a full-time baker?
SI: This was a hobby that turned out more serious when a dear friend of mine, Patricia, asked me if I wanted to start a home-based bakery business to make and sell mostly alfajores, granola, loaves, and cakes—always fresh and with the best ingredients, just like our moms used to make for us growing up.
AH: What was the inspiration for your business’s name, Amarantha?
SI: Patricia came up with the name; she is from Colombia, and we wanted something that could be pronounced easily in both English and Spanish. We had our business for over a year, doing everything together and sharing wonderful moments while baking. A couple of months ago, Patricia and her family were relocated to Florida, and I decided to continue our business by myself.
AH: Tell us a little bit about alfajores.
SI: These cookies are a typical treat in South America. You can find them in Chile, Peru, Argentina, and Colombia. They are all different, but the idea behind them is always the same: a cookie sandwich with a dulce de leche filling. This recipe that I shared with At Home in Arkansas is a simplified Peruvian alfajor—for example, by using canned dulce de leche.
Follow Sole on Instagram (@amaranthabakedgoods) to see more of her made-from-scratch goodies. For orders, she recommends sending a direct message on Instagram or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.