Cristina and Carlos Chavarria stand with their son, Kristoffer, in the front of the namesake shop Kristoffer's Cakes, a new business in the McKinley Park neighborhood.

Legendary Tres Leches Rise Again at Kristoffer's Cakes

Published January 15, 2019

Business Name: Kristoffer's Cakes
Address: 1735 W. 35th St.
Hours: 11 a.m. - 7 p.m. Tues.-Fri., 10 a.m. - 7 p.m. Sat., 10 a.m. - 7 p.m. Sun.
Website: KristoffersCakes.com

Kristoffer's Cakes offers coffee and sweets, including slices and whole tres leches cakes, from its charming storefront location on West 35th Street and South Hermitage Avenue in the McKinley Park neighborhood. Open to the public since November 24, 2018, Kristoffer's Cakes brings a renowned baker of Mexican delicacies and her family back to Chicago.

Cristina Chavarria, with the help of her husband, Carlos, gained a reputation among foodies and fine-dining chefs for her amazing tres leches cake while running Kristoffer's Cafe at 18th and Hasted streets in the Pilsen neighborhood. After a sojourn to Florida and some start-up wholesale catering in the Chicago suburbs, the family returned to open Kristoffer's Cakes, responding to both their desire to come back to the area and the clamoring for her tres leches from past customers.

"The product is really unique," Carlos Chavarria said. "It's second to none. The quality and consistency sets us apart."

For Cristina Chavarria, baking her cakes is a way of life. "This isn't work," she said. "I'm doing what I like."

Kristoffers Cakes logoFreshly made muffins, cookies, brownies and an array of other treats rotate through the store, along with a changing set of flavors of tres leches cake. Tres leches, which means "three milks" in Spanish, is a cake commonly made with evaporated milk, condensed milk and heavy cream. The tres leches at Kristoffer's float distinct layers of leche through an incredibly moist sponge cake that delivers a richly satisfying mouth feel and complex, changing flavor profile that dances across the palate like a nice wine or really good mole.

Of course, there's a secret ingredient for the tres leches cake, Cristina said, one which is only shared with family initiates such as the couple's youngest son, Kristoffer. He went through an official try-out when he voiced interest in baking for the business, Cristina said, and wowed everyone with his own recipe for a mint-chocolate tres leches cake. Now he helps out around the shop while learning the business and attending high school.

Kristoffer's Cakes is settling into its current location after its thorough refreshing and renewal of the storefront space, Carlos said, including in the back banquet room, which is available to rent for parties and other events. In fact, Kristoffer's Cakes is opening this area to local vendors for a semi-weekly Arts & Crafts Indoor Market, the first of which takes place 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday, January 27.

Moving forward, Kristoffer's Cakes will continue to tweak elements of its operations, Carlos said. For example, based on customer feedback, they may explore opening earlier and offering breakfast items. In any event, they're here to stay, Carlos said. "We're very excited to be part of this neighborhood."

The couple thanked the neighborhood for its hospitality and support thus far: "Everyone who has been in has been very welcoming," Christina said.

"I feel welcomed with open arms," Carlos said. "I feel the excitement and energy for growth."

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