It’s no secret that Latin American cuisine is some of the best in the world but beyond the savory dishes, there are some truly indulgent sweets. From flan to dulce de leche to pan dulce, desserts across Latin America are acclaimed and replicated because they hit all the right spots. The women featured on this list cater to those with a sweet tooth with their sweet and equally beautiful creations. Ranging from west to east coast, these (mostly) self-taught mujeres took inspiration from their cultura and gave it their own personal flair—there’s a vegan baker in the mix—so prepare for some truly unique pastries and cakes!
Candy Ramirez of Candy Queen Bee Baker
Located in Tucson, Arizona, Ramirez started Candy’s Cakes & More in 2008 inspired by her grandma’s baking. She was 18 and a single mother when she started giving away cake pops with her info attached to them and the orders eventually started coming in. She’s now the owner of Twisted for Sugar in Arizona, Mexisprinkles (and gummies), and Mexilollies. Now she’s able to help those who want to learn through her platform Queen Bee Bakers providing guidance for baker and non-bakers alike. “I like to create items from my childhood, like conchas. I like to put my own touches on everything, mostly coming from my culture,” she says. “My top seller when I was baking for the public was Mexican Vanilla cake with strawberry filling. Still my favorite. But I love infusing my culture any chance I get!”
Karina Jimenez of Viva Los Cupcakes
Based in Los Angeles, Karina Jimenez holds a degree in art but decided to follow her heart (and taste buds) when she founded Viva Los Cupcakes in 2009. A self-taught baker, Jimenez had an aha moment in a restaurant when she was eating mole that eventually led her to develop her most famous cupcake, tamal con mole. Her creations take “something very traditionally American and give it a Latin twist”, and as a Mexican-American she takes her inspiration from both savory and sweet dishes she grew up with. There are plans to extend the menu of sweets with a horchata rice krispie among the newest offerings. Popular cupcakes include conchita, churro, horchata plus speciality cupcakes like their latest Chile en Nogada and mangoneada.
Gloria Chamarro of A Sweet Vida
A self-taught baker, Gloria Chamarro’s Instagram posts are a journey through a cake wonderland. Based in the San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles, her home-based bakery officially opens for business later this year and will feature homemade desserts using organic ingredients. “As a Mexican-American, it is important for me that both the American and Latin American cultures shine through the hand-crafted desserts. It’s not ‘just”’dessert; behind every edible creation is a story, an effort, sometimes a challenge, and always lots of thought, care, and love.” Her desserts include classics like tres leches cake and flan, as well as Mexican Vanilla & Mexican Chocolate Cupcakes.
Laura E. Varela-Wong of Krazy Kool Cakes
Specializing in custom cakes, Krazy Kool Cakes is a collaborative effort between husband-and wife team Laura E. Varela-Wong and Arnie Wong. Based in El Paso, Tex-Mex flavors unsurprisingly infuse their creations that includes custom made cake toppers. As the daughter of renowned artist Miguel Angel Varela, she takes an artistic approach to baking with the cakes as her canvas. Since starting in 2007, they’ve been taking inspiration from their community using traditional flavors including dulce de leche and canela. “Living on the U.S. Mexico border influences a lot of what we make. Our community is rooted in our Hispanic tradition,” they told HipLatina.
Danira Cancinos of Dani’s Dulce Confections
Danira Cancinos is a Guatemalan self-taught baker who now teaches others to bake after starting her business, Dani’s Dulce Confections, six years ago in Sylmar, Los Angeles. Some of her most popular items are the concha cake pops, stuffed churros and the the indulgent churro cheesecake. “I am now booking 2 months in advanced and I’m also teaching and empowering other bakers. Which I love! I am proud of being a Latina. I wanted my business name to have a Spanish word to represent the Latina in me,” she told HipLatina.
Angelica Garcia of Red Flour Creations
Established in 2015, Red Flour Creations is the brainchild of Angelica Garcia who was inspired by the Mexican flavors she grew up with. Red Flour Creations is based in Redlands in Southern California and the “mompreneur” now shares the traditions and flavors she grew up with with her 10-year-old son. Her most popular flavor is churro (available in cookies, cupcakes and cake pops), along with strawberry margarita, lima con cocoa and mazapan.
Carmen Castillo of Cakes by Carmen NYC
Proud Boricua and self-taught baker Carmen Castillo works out of her home in Queens, New York since starting Cakes by Carmen NYC six years ago. Growing up in a Puerto Rican household meant she regularly enjoyed Tembleque (coconut pudding) and now it’s one of her favorite desserts to make. From elaborate cakes to cookies and cake pops, Castillo’s confections are as artistic as they are sweet.
Yuriria Gaviña of Latina Baker
Yuriria Gaviña’s grandfather was a baker in Mexico and the main inspiration for her to found her small business in 2014 in San Pedro, California, though it was originally named My Pastry Heaven. She started attending the Culinary Institute of America in 2015 and realized that this was a passion she was meant to pursue and in the process she’d be honoring her roots and grandfather who passed away 14 years ago. After graduating she rebranded to Latina Baker and enjoys giving “a new twist to desserts” with a Latin flair like her café de olla flan and Lotería sugar cookies.
Aida Nava of Pink Pastel Bakery
Chicago-based Pink Pastel Bakery is a vegan bakery headed by Aida Nava, who makes traditional Mexican sweets from scratch. The self-taught baker has been serving up her sweets for nearly a decade but decided to start Pink Pastel last year. Some of her vegan takes on traditional Mexican desserts include flan, tres leches cake, and Mexican wedding cookies.
Pink Sugar Pastries
Mirtha Perez believes baking is in her blood, dating back to her grandfather who was a baker in Pacanga, Peru and now Perez carries on the tradition in New York. In 2010 she enrolled in a pastry and baking class at the Institute of Culinary Education and after graduating and working at a few bakeries and cake studios, she opened her home based cake and dessert studio in 2013. Now her growing business dishes up sweets including dulce de leche cheesecake, alfajores, flan and dulce de leche buttercream covered cakes. “I see dessert and food as a form of art. Bright bold flavors and a unique rustic style is what we are all about,” she says.