Yet a Hyde Park baker, originally from Brazil, is now integrating some of her favorite treats from back home, into her extensive menu of Italian and French pastries.
Fabiana Carter had been running a small cafe in the basement of a church on the University of Chicago campus until recently. Her love of Brazilian sweets runs deep, and now that she's moved a bit closer to the lake, on 53rd Street, she's expanded her menu. So while you could just pop in for breakfast or lunch, be sure to save room for dessert.
You can almost hear the samba playing in Fabiana Carter's head. The flavor and spirit of Brazil is alive at Fabiana's Bakery in Hyde Park, not only because of the owner's heritage, but also some of her employees, who relish the chance to make traditional beijinhos, a sweetened condensed milk-and-butter truffle rolled in coconut, or a chocolate version called brigadeiro.
"We have Brazilian foods, baked goods, we have Italian, French, Mexican," said Carter.
There's also classic American treats like chocolate chip cookies, cinnamon rolls and blueberry crumble cakes. Speaking of cakes, they do a brisk specialty cake business, while offering a number of unique items like nutella cheesecake or layered affairs with plenty of fruit.
"In Brazil we eat a lot of desserts with fruits and I love mixing and making cakes using fruits," she said.
Back to those truffles a second; Carter said they contain a key ingredient.
"The beijinho is a coconut truffle and the brigadeiro is a chocolate truffle and it's made from sweetened condensed milk which is the main ingredients in all of our desserts," she said.
No kidding. It's also the star of a frosting, made with the condensed milk, some cocoa and butter, then heated on the stove. Once fully combined, it's poured over a Brazilian chocolate cake that is as moist and flavorful as they come. If you didn't feel like chocolate, a Kentucky butter cake might be a better bet. The other Brazilian star: pao de queijo, or cheese bread, made by pouring warm milk and butter into tapioca flour, and whisking vigorously; then adding some grated parmesan and gruyere cheeses, plus a few cracked-and-beaten eggs, which must get incorporated using your hands, since the dough is so strong. They're baked until barely browned, and the stretchy texture combined with the aroma are hard to resist. Try to score them when they're warm for best results.
"And it's gluten free, which is awesome. A lot of our customers come here because of the cheese bread that's gluten free," Carter said.
he talks about one of the savory items from the bakery, a roulade, that is sort of like the lovechild of a pizza and a cake roll.
In this week's "Extra Course," Steve talks about one of the savory items from the bakery, a roulade, that is sort of like the lovechild of a pizza and a cake roll.
1658 E 53rd St.