Travel

This Buttery, Bejeweled Pastry Is the Best Thing I Ate in Mexico City

On garibaldis, the little Mexican cakes I can't get enough of.

August  5, 2019
Photo by Julia Gartland. Food Stylist: Samantha Seneviratne. Prop Stylist: Brooke Deonarine.

As an upstairs neighbor, the United States—especially in states like Texas and California—has its own unique Mexican food culture, one that echoes the original cuisine in some ways. No party is complete without tortilla chips and salsa or guacamole, and we have a whole day of the week devoted to tacos (it’s so prevalent, even, that someone’s trademarked it).

This love for the foods of our southern neighbors, however, doesn't always extend to desserts. Sure, some of us in the U.S. are lucky enough to have a neighborhood paletería where we can sample an assortment of technicolor popsicles in flavors like sweet corn and mango with chile. Others may have access to Mexican bakeries that feature shelves laden with crackly conchas and other similar, lightly sweetened breads. Nevertheless, some of us may only be familiar with flan and churros (which are originally Spanish and found all throughout the Spanish-speaking world) and maybe tres leches cake (which is actually Nicaraguan).

But a trip to Mexico City in 2013 revealed the vast repertoire of cakes, pastries, ornate gelatins, and sweets that often take a back seat when talking about Mexican cuisine. A visit to any of Mexico City’s bakeries, such as El Globo, is like stepping into a pastry fantasy. There are towers of sweet indulgences scattered throughout the whole store. The set-up is similar to that of many Korean bakeries: You grab a tray and stroll through the shop, using tongs to grab your selections from island displays. There really is no gatekeeper between you and your goodies like in many American- and European-style bakeries.

One of the uniquely Mexican baked goods I kept coming across repeatedly called out to me with its distinctive appearance, until I finally gave in and tried one: Garibaldis are hard to miss in a bakery. They are essentially upside-down pound cake muffins that are glazed in apricot jam and then rolled in white nonpareil sprinkles. Sometimes they’ll include a dollop of chocolate ganache on top or a swirl of tangy cajeta, a type of caramel made from goat’s milk that is similar to dulce de leche.

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Top Comment:
“They taste like pound cake brushed with apricot jam. I want to add stars but I don't see where to do that 5 Stars!”
— Nancy
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These little cakes are said to have originated in El Globo bakery, which was founded by an Italian immigrant family in 1884. Due to the Mexican Revolution, the family (along with many other Europeans) fled Mexico and temporarily closed the bakery. Once things had quieted down, El Globo reopened in 1923.

Another Italian immigrant bakery, named Alberto Laposse, is credited as the inventor of the garibaldi cakes, naming them after the famous Italian revolutionary. Despite their Italian connection, these little muffins are now as much a fixture of local cuisine as tacos al pastor, and you can lose count of how many people you’ll see in the Mexican capital nibbling at these buttery treats along with their morning café con leche.

Have you ever tasted a garibaldi? Let us know in the comments below.

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  • Belinda Yeo
    Belinda Yeo
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    Alberto Laposse
  • jellygood
    jellygood
  • alex
    alex
  • Nancy
    Nancy
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I was born in Peru to a Limeño father and a Texan mother. We moved to Miami when I was five, and I grew up in the "Kendall-suyo" neighborhood—often called the 5th province of the Inca Empire because of its large Peruvian population. I've been writing about food since I was 11 years old, and in 2016 I received a master's degree in Gastronomy from Boston University. A travel columnist at Food52, I'm currently based in Hollywood, Florida—another vibrant Peruvian community—where I am a writer, culinary tour guide, and consultant.

10 Comments

Belinda Y. October 27, 2019
I have been baking for 50 years, half of those professionally. I followed the recipe to the letter. Cakes came out in crumbs, tasted over beaten. I was hoping for mini bundt/pound cakes, but got dry, crumbly bits instead. So disappointing. Anyone else have issues?
 
Alberto L. October 2, 2019
Dearest Mr. Olaechea, my name is Alberto Laposse I live in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. I’m Mexican Italian and the third generation of a great Italian pastry chef Giovanni Laposse who came to Mexico City from Turin in 1900 hired by an Italian family Tenconi with which he worked at their tea and pastry parlor El Globo, named after the aristocratic hobby of balloon riding during the late XIX century. In 1918 Giovanni (Alberto, that’s me) traveled to Italy during the Mexican revolución and when the Tenconi family closed the business. He finally came back in 1923 to reopen El Globo and remained a three generation family owned company until 1999. My gran father named his famous cupcakes after Giuseppe Garibaldi, the XIX century Italian revolutionary he admired.
My passion for baking has followed me for 50 years, I’m 59 now. My father took me and my brothers to learn how to bake since we were young. Years after, when I was almost 30 years old I moved to Paris, France, worked and studied new baking methods for two years, came back to Mexico in early 1990s and grew the company up to 94 stores and 1800 employees until we sold it in 1999. Fortunately I have kept the original Garibaldi recipe from my grand father Giovanni and worked with it for many years, actually I still do, let me explain. Four years after selling the company my passion for baking trigged in me to start a restaurant and bakery business named Cumpanio and Panio respectively, both founded in the beautiful town San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. It is in Panio where I still bake the famous Garibaldis based on the original recipe developed by my Grand father Giovanni, recipe that I would love to share with you in order to contribute the your interesting research and as a legacy from my dearest grand father.
Deeply grateful for your most kind article
Alberto Laposse

Whisk together: Butter 175 grams with all purpose sugar 160 grams until creamy consistence.
Add two eggs, 100 grams one by one, reduce speed at minimum until they are absorbed.
Separately add 1 tea spoon of vanilla extract into 90 grams of whole milk and 15 grams of trimoline or honey bee.
Sift 200g of all purpose flour with 2g of baking powder and 2 g of salt
At a minimum speed ad half the dry ingredients and half of liquid ingredients, let it integrate well and then add the remaking dry and liquid ingredients.

(Definitely Garibaldis original recipe does not include cream cheese)

After baking the cup cakes apply apricot marmalade diluted with syrup, brush it and then roll it in white small sugar drops, not too small, not too big as you want them to remain crispy and humid at the same time.

Buon appetito
 
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Carlos C. October 2, 2019
Thank you so much, Sr. Laposse. It was fascinating to read the history of garibaldis and globe bakery directly from the source. Thank you for sharing that. I will save the original recipe for my own use. In the US, some cake recipes call for cream cheese as an insurance - it is a fool proof way to ensure that the cake remains moist and rich. So this is an adaptation to the traditional recipe for Americans to make. Even the Peruvian recipes I create for Food52 (I am Peruvian, by the way) are adapted so that most Americans can make them.

Thank you, again, for sharing your family's history and the original recipe for garibaldis
 
jellygood September 6, 2019
So interesting. I'm a British expat living in the US and know Garibaldis as something completely different! In the UK Garibaldis are a biscuit / cookie comprised of a layer of currants sandwiched between two layers of biscuit dough. Or as we used to call them squashed fly biscuits! I guess G was a popular guy the world over!
 
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Carlos C. September 7, 2019
He was! I think he was romanticized a lot in the Western World....perhaps more than many other revolutionaries. I will have to look up those biscuits
 
alex September 6, 2019
I’m a Mexico City expat in Brooklyn and when I saw an email from Food52 with the subject line “The best thing I ate in Mexico City,” I clicked with extreme skepticism. Cannot communicate enough how excited I was when I saw that the piece is about garibaldis. I am constantly trying to communicate to my non-MX friends how delicious they are and how much I love them and NO ONE UNDERSTANDS! (I guess pound cake with apricot jam glaze doesn’t sound all that novel when described as such.) I think this is truly the food I miss most from DF, maybe because unlike, say, tacos al pastor, I haven’t found even a slight approximation here to curb cravings. My parents were just in DF and express shipped me a box of garibaldis as soon as they got home to Texas; that box is currently in midair somewhere so I’m going to try this recipe tonight and do a comparison as soon as they get here! *feels seen**cries*
 
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Carlos C. September 7, 2019
Hi Alex. Thank you so much for your comment. My original draft had included a line about how I (and many other Latin Americans I knew) used to think that Mexicans just didn't like sweets or desserts because we just don't get exposed to the VAST array of Mexican pastries and confectionery in the US. And the only thing we see as uniquely Mexican are the lime+salt+chile treats (like mangonadas and chamoy and lucas), which is hard to wrap your head around if you are not used to it. It really wasn't until I went to DF for the first time that I got to see just how little we get in the US. DF has the most amazing bakeries I have ever seen in my life. More magical than anything in Europe, to be honest. And garibaldis are just so special. I particularly love the ones with cajeta. It is a shame that we don't see them here. Even the Mexican bakeries I have come across don't really seem to have any of the pastries I saw in Mexico City.
 
Nancy September 6, 2019
They are very delicious! I really like making them in a mini muffin pan they're a perfect two bite size and sooo cute! I used the apricot jam and be generous, this is what really makes them. I was concerned about the non pareils being crunchy which they are but it's ok because they are so adorable if a bit sticky. They taste like pound cake brushed with apricot jam. I want to add stars but I don't see where to do that 5 Stars!
 
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Carlos C. September 6, 2019
I am glad you like them! they would be so cute in mini muffin tins
 
trvlnsandy August 6, 2019
these sound so yummy. Can hardly wait to try them out!