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It's That Most Wonderful Time of the Year To Eat Cuban Pastries!


Before you start drooling, let me just tell you that for me, one of the most beautiful things about the Holidays is the set design in New York City. It’s reminiscent of ubiquitous chicness, happiness and temporary cheer. Temporary, because the bills will inevitably pile up within 30 days of NOW, and the lines and lines of people trying to shop and  have a photo op with a faux Santa, will all drive you batty and probably reverse the initial feeling.

But, I still love NY, with all it’s racy personality and insensitive expressions (in one post last year I mention a cabby I was in, cussing out a driver–niiiice). It’s just that special place where you can see the whole world on one large metropolitan island. And because the whole world, ethnically speaking, has a foot on 5th Avenue, you also get to taste food from this vast world.

On Saturday, la familia decided to hop in our truck and drive up from DC, just for the day.


We, however, can’t just drive without stopping. If you followed my Tweets on Saturday you know we had to stop in NJ and visit Paquito D’Rivera, a good family friend. That was a nice tryst. We talked about the Introduction he’s writing for my cookbook, and about Bobby Flay’s Throwdown FN show, where he’s been asked to be a judge of a Cuban food episode he’s doing. Again.


We took advantage of being in NJ and thought of our most favorite thing to do: find food. Being Cuban in West New York, means Cuban bakeries–everywhere!

Why is this important?  Well, because in D.C, and even less in Atlanta, you just can’t find the type of delicias I grew up eating and absolutely boasting we created back in Havana!

After a 10-minute, high-volume Spanglish conversation about which bakery was the best, the consensus was in: LA GRAN VIA BAKERY.


I walked in and knew it was about to deplete my Canal St. reserve.  My father’s really, since he decided to come in and “look.”

The line was out the door, with customers ranging from Americanos dating Latin girls, to a Middle Eastern woman. The level of anxiety waiting for your pull-tabbed number to be called was worse than my very own. This place has desserts for young, old, frail, skinny, fat, poor, rich and those without dental insurance to treat them for all the cavities they’re sure to develop after the fact.

I rushed the counter and ordered Cappucino’s, my most favored Cuban pastry (1st picture above). These cone shaped pansito’s have got to be the best thing you’ll ever put in your mouth! I’ve been eating them since I can remember, back in Miami, but have never figured out how to make them. On it now, though. They’re similar to an Italian dessert, saturated with a light honey-like, sticky sauce. I ordered 5. At $.75, I regret not having asked for 20. Where else do you buy such delicacies for pennies? In Dean & DeLuca, you’d surely pay over $3 for each. I guarantee that.

Don’t be jealous, just take a look and enjoy all these Cuban pastries that are everyday delicacies in our homes, especially during the Holidays.

I started snapping pics through the encased coolers. The coconut balls with glaze, pictured below on the left, will cause you to shuck one at the person butting in line, but then again, you don’t want to wast it, it’s so good. The flan, while not my award-winning one, is pretty and actually gave me an idea on how I can mail order!


Then there are the vanilla and chocolate eclaires, which are my dad’s fave. He’ll fight you over them. Those cost $.85!


Can it get better? YES! Look at the individual flans, guava and cheese pastelitos, and Señoritas, which are probably my 3rd fave.



The birthday and quinceañera cakes are always so over the top decadent and stereotypically laden with Spanish style flowers, that I had to snatch a picture. Yes, every single one our birthday cakes growing up looked like that, only 10 times more dramatic.



One of the easiest things to make, which I do at home every so often, only to keel over in stomach pain later, is meringue. Nothing but raw eggs and sugar. How can a nasty raw egg turn out to be so sexilicious after beating your hand off!?!

Well, wanting to spare my arm some pain, I ordered some of those, too. Plus theirs are peaked so pretty, nothing like what I do for myself.

I go rogue.


After 20 minutes and only $15 spent, we walked out of there with the most delicious pastries anyone, I swear anyone, could want! As for my 5 cappucino’s, they made it all the way back to Atlanta with me. Still juicy, still wet and still utterly delicious. I was so determined to allow the experience to last beyond Saturday’s day trip, I hid them from myself in the basement fridge at my parent’s house. HA!

It’s the one recipe I want and will kill for. My cousin claims she knows how to make them, so maybe I’ll just con her for a lesson. I already know their labor intensive. But, for all the juiciness that comes out of them and drips into your mouth, I’ll spend three hours making them; pressure cooker or not!

If you’re ever in West New York, NJ, you must visit this awesome pasteleria. It’ll change your dessert experience.

La Gran Via Bakery

135 48th Street, Union City, NJ

[rating: 5/5]

Last Visit: Nov. 2009




Eat well, love unapologetically, pray with true intention, and take care of yourself.

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1,717 thoughts on “It's That Most Wonderful Time of the Year To Eat Cuban Pastries!

  1. Nope – never heard of them but when you figure out that recipe, let a gal know – and next time you head up to NYC, why not come visit Philly??? Jus’ sayin. Headed up to NYC next week – my first time back in the city in 3 years. Last time was for a George Lamond gig back in the day…

  2. Oh my gosh.. After i’m done writing this comment i’m gonna RUN to this pasteleria! The cuban pastries look so delicious. I’m glad you had another family outing in the Big Apple! You need to move here.. It seems like you come every other week anyway! 🙂 Hope all is well B.

    Big Hugs!

  3. Oye Chica, I have a recipe for cappucinos from an old Cocina Al Minuto recipe book I bought in Miami in the 80’s use the book a lot. If you want the recipe tell me how to email it to you. DM me at twitter Decatursue, or on Fb. but girrrl the pastelitos are my fav, or anything guava. Now I’m hungry Dang!!

  4. great photos, looks like even better sweets. Never heard of Cuban Cappuccino dessert..definately deprived.You enjoy. Got to go clean the keyboard from the drool( thanks) before processing the last of the turkey broth.

    Bless be Bren

  5. Lys: we owe each other a serious visit! i got my hand on the recipe from Sue below out of the same book we both have. I’ll make sure to hand it over to you!

    ZenChef: i really do hope you make it there. it’s right across the bridge! smooches!

    Sue: I have that book and it didn’t even occur to me that it’s in there!! gots to make it!

    Julia: girl, those cappucino’s are so sexilicious! I swear! they’re sooooo good. now go clean up ur keyboard! 🙂

  6. So sorry we didn’t get to see each other while you were in NYC! I’m sure we’ll see each other soon, though! 🙂

  7. Those dessert photos are fantastic! Next time, bring one back to DC for me 🙂

    So cool that you know someone who knows Bobby Flay: he’s one of my favorites on Food Channel!

  8. Oh my, I am drooling over my keyboard…everything looks fantastic, if I only could have a small bite of each dessert…I love Cuban pastries 🙂

  9. I am so grateful to have a Cuban bakery down here in So Cal “Portos Bakery” feel bad for all my Cubanitos and Cubanitas with none of these bakeries. (Yum my favorite is the Pastelitos de Dulce Guayaba bit I love “Brazo Gitano” good thing I can make them at home though, except for those Cappucinos you need a special mold for them.

  10. Oh Nathan, I’m so jealous of you for having one near you! I’m in Atlanta and the closest thing I have is a Brazilian bakery which has some nice delicias, too. But nothing like our stuff!!!!! I love guayaba con queso, too. I’m tackling cappucino’s next. I’ll let you know how it goes!

  11. mmm….. mmm… mmmmmm… as dora would say.. delicioso..

    those look sinfully good!! To Nathan’s comment.. i would be one of those poor cubanitas that does not have a bakery near by.. I’d have to drive 4 hours to get that, or take a trip to miami for it.. how sad… i think i’ll make the picture of the cappucinos my screensaver.. LOL!!!

  12. What an amazing bakery! I just had lunch, am not remotely hungry, but wish I could sample each and every one of these morsels. So beautiful as well. I think I’m right with you on the faves…I’d start with the pansitos ; )

  13. Bren, I was, well I do all the time, think of you, that cutie patootie Cuban cheffie… I finally booked marked your site. I can never remember that ‘flanboy…’ name! Ha maybe its because I cannot get pass flan and I get hungry 🙂

    My New Years resolution is to cook one or two recipes from all the freakin cookbooks I have! hugs chicka

  14. Although I have both bitter and sweet memories, I was blessed to grow up in Union City NJ and later Miami FL…..all these desserts is what I grew up on….I can’t imagine a life without my cuban food and pastries!!! Back in the day most all of the pastry shops were Cuban in Union City although less now, it’s nice to see that we still have a firm footing and offering of Cuban food and pastries in my old stomping ground…..I love going back every couple of months to both Union City and Miami and getting my “sweet tooth” on!

  15. hija yo espero que tu seas la ganadora .te lo mereces por tu esfuerzo y sobre todo tu creatividad fue fabulosa .de veras eatoy muy orgullosa de ti .y ojala y le pido a dios que ganes besos mami

  16. Mamita… Thanks so much for the info on La Gran Via! The family has been craving Tres Leche cake and we were stumped! Tried a few places but nothing outstanding. I remembered this blog and gave them a call. Sure enough they carry it! Headed out RIGHT NOW to pick up the goods for our Mother’s Day Dinner tonight (Nothing like last minute, huh?)!

    Enjoy the day! Besitos to all the Mamis… especially yours for raising such a phemonenal chef! You Rock!

  17. Hi Bren!! I’m Cuban too, living in Canada since 2006.
    I found the recipe for capuchinos on a Nitza Villapol’s recipe book (the one before ’59). I tried several recipes, the one from 3 Miami guys, 1 I found on a forum and no, Nitza’s is the best.
    To make them stand in the oven, I bought a metal set that is used for grilling peppers.
    If you can’t find the recipe, email me! I’ll gladly sent it to you.

  18. I’m trying to find the mold of the capuchino can you tell me where can I find one I’m willing to pay

  19. I have had them and they are so wonderful. You are so right, once you have had them, you don’t forget how wonderful they are and want more. The ones I had had an orange syrup on them. Very mild but oh so good. Going to have to give it a try I guess.

  20. Hi Louisa.

    Please refresh your browser! The recipe is there. I’m glad you found a long-loved recipe. Happy holidays!

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