With Pan Caliente, husband-and-wife duo Alejandro and Silvia Miguel are bringing a taste of Argentina to Kansas City.
The family-run business began six years ago, when Alejandro and Silvia began selling empanadas within their circle of friends. It wasn't long before they expanded their repertoire into traditional Argentinian sweets and decided to take their business to the next level. They started a website where pastry-starved customers can place online orders for delivery (delivered, of course, by their son Ignacio), and you can also find a selection of their goods at a popular Westport coffee shop.
"About a year ago, we visited Café Corazón and randomly met the owners, Miel and Curtis," says Silvia, who is responsible for the sweet side of Pan Caliente's pastry business. "We started talking with them and learned that, like Alejandro and I, they had some Argentinian roots. It wasn't long before we brought up our baked goods, and our partnership started to solidify."
Silvia brought by a selection of empanadas and sweets for Miel and Curtis, and the ownership team at Café Corazón knew they needed to join forces. If you don't want to order ahead through Pan Caliente's website, you can always drop into the café for a selection of goodies.
On the sweet side of things, Pan Caliente offers several variations on traditional Argentinian sweets, which Silvia says draw inspiration from a few different cultures, including Spanish and French. Try the mil hojas, made from stacked layers of puff pastry and filled with dulce de leche and dark chocolate, making for a nicely balanced and wholly decadent dessert. Silvia also recommends their varieties of alfajores, an Argentinian sandwich cookie filled with dulce de leche and coated with other sweet toppings.
While Silvia makes the sweets, Alejandro is in charge of the empanadas. Café Corazón generally carries three varieties: beef, fugazzeta and ratatouille. If you're ordering directly from Pan Caliente's website, there are a few other options to choose from, though Silvia says the three sold in the café are their most popular varieties. "We want to have several different options to appeal to different American tastes, but all our empanadas are grounded in traditional Argentinian recipes," she says. "Argentinian-style empanadas are generally all about high-quality meat and a complex spice blend. Our beef empanada perfectly captures the flavor of Argentina."
Other items rotate in and out depending on available ingredients, though customers can usually find tamales on the savory side of the menu, and other sweets might include the arrollado de dulce de leche or various other cookie options. Silvia says that they've been trying to branch out Pan Caliente's menu by experimenting with new flavors and techniques, as well as trying to create options for different dietary restrictions, such as offering a selection of gluten-free options. Through it all, they try to keep close to their traditional Argentinian recipes.
If you're looking to enjoy a taste of Argentina through Pan Caliente's sweet and savory goodies, you can order directly through their website or stop in Café Corazón. Silvia recommends placing online orders one or two days ahead of time, as they make everything fresh to order.
As for the future of Pan Caliente, Silvia says the business continues to grow and the family keeps hearing positive feedback, and they hope to one day open their own bakery so they can continue spreading the joy of Argentinian pastry. Considering how unique and delicious Pan Caliente's offerings are, that goal might be even closer than they realize.
Pan Caliente, 816.778.9005, pancalientekc.com