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

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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    Carlos C. Olaechea
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.


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!