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Irresistible Italian cookies and more

Mary DeFalco sells authentic treats at her A Very Aunt Mary Italian Cookie Co. booth in the Scripps Ranch Farmer’s Market. (photos by John Gregory)

Irresistible Italian cookies and more

One of the newest sensations at the Scripps Ranch Farmer’s Market is A Very Aunt Mary Italian Cookie Co. Talk about authentic Italian cooking; this place is at the top.

Walk up to the booth and find Mary DeFalco running the show. You’ll immediately have an urge to run around the table and give her a big hug.

“My parents are from Sicily. So, some people would say I’m Sicilian first, then Italian,” she said, laughing.

Mary’s cookie company is celebrating its first anniversary this weekend, although Mary has been baking for friends and family a long time.

The decadent chocolate cookies are baked with ricotta cheese and fine French chocolate.

A Very Aunt Mary Italian Cookie Co. offers such specialties as lemon cookies, chocolate cookies, snowballs, tiramisu, both lemon and chocolate marquise, fresh cannoli and arancini.

“They are made with love, of course,” Mary explained. “When people come to our booth, we welcome them as if they were coming into our home. We are friendly with everybody and enjoy engaging in conversation.”

Mary’s products are also made with the finest ingredients.

“The cookies are made in small batches for the highest quality,” she said. “We use free range eggs and pure extracts, real butter and, when needed, lactose-free milk products when available.”

The cookie selection is switched around a little each week to provide a little variety.

The tiramisu is made with mascarpone cheese.

A Very Aunt Mary Italian Cookie Co. items are sold at a few other farmer’s markets. Mary said she plans to start selling them at upcoming special events as well. She is assisted by Frank and Nick DeFalco.

Besides the fact that her products are highly delectable and authentic, her business is made all the more incredible based on the fact that Mary has been legally blind for about 20 years. Still, she continues to find her way around the kitchen.

Her secret: she utilizes her other senses and she puts her recipes in very large print.

“I have a helper, but all of my products are labeled. So, on the salt shaker there’s a big SALT. And then SUGAR, FLOUR,” she explained. “I never mistake salt and sugar. I’ve never done it yet. You learn to use your other senses, that’s for sure.”

While some might think that her line of cookies is simple, that notion couldn’t be farther from the truth. Take the lemon cookies, for instance. They are one of her best sellers because they are made with fresh squeezed lemon juice and lemon zest, no concentrate.

“(Customers) taste the lemon and they go nuts because I put a lot of lemon in there. They’re spongy,” she said.

Her decadent chocolate cookies have ricotta cheese in them, as well as a fine French chocolate.

The tiramisu is made with mascarpone cheese.

Her arancini include minced meat, vegetables, cheese, breadcrumbs and rice rolled into a ball. Mary sells them cold and customers may take them home to heat them before serving.

“I’ve got fresh cannoli, always,” Mary said. “We fill them fresh so that the shells stay nice and crispy.”

A Very Aunt Mary Italian Cookie Co. also offers catering. Call (760) 822-1783.

Look for A Very Aunt Mary Italian Cookie Co. at the Scripps Ranch Farmer’s Market, which is open for shoppers from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. every single Saturday at 10380 Spring Canyon Road, in the Innovations Academy parking lot. Visit srfm.org.

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