By Fiona Hurrell, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The desire for indulgence, even after Easter, is still rather strong particularly for those who have gotten accustomed to the taste of chocolate eggs. Luckily, Cariocas know their stuff when it comes to cakes and sweets with a variety of cafes and confectionaries (padarias) across the city to suit all tastes and budgets.
Possibly the most famous cafe and patisserie in Rio is Confeitaria Colombo. With a history as decadent and glamorous as the architecture and design, it is little wonder that Columbo continues to be a favorite among locals and travelers, not to mention Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain.
Opened since 1894, Colombo has become a cultural and artistic heritage site, serving only the best cakes, gateaux, breads, pastries and much more.
Confeitaria Colombo’s main restaurant and confectionery is located in Centro, though it does have a second cafe inside the Copacabana Fort overlooking the bay. Prices range from mid level to high depending on the order, though quality is invariably good.
Anyone with particular dietary requirements or intolerances will find their specific needs met at Celeiro, a family run cafe and bakery in Leblon that prides itself on its healthy cuisine and use of only fresh, natural ingredients.
Selections of hand crafted breads, cakes, biscuits and birthday cakes that can be made to order with or without sugar and catered to special dietary requests are all on offer. Prices vary depending on the product or requirement but are fairly mid level.
A favorite especially among expatriates, the Gringo Cafe, in Ipanema is another cafe-come-bakery serving unique cakes and deserts. Restaurant owner Sam Flowers bakes all of the cakes himself using traditional, American recipes and ingredients which ensure that the deserts remain true to their originals.
The most popular cake, according to Flowers, is the New York-style cheesecake, which he says “Is very popular because it is made with real cream cheese and has an amazing creamy texture. Many cakes sold as cheesecakes in Rio are made with ricotta or other substitutes for cream cheese.”
Others include Boston Cream Pie, Carrot Cake and the exclusive, Strawberry Shortcake. Flowers adds “We also make and decorate cakes for special order. If you have an event or birthday coming up, we can design a cake for that occasion.”
For a fun sweet treat, equally popular with both adults and children, Vintage Cupcakes mesh traditional Brazilian ingredients with conventional cupcake recipes to create the perfect party accompaniment that has become all the rage in Rio.
Doce de Leite, brigadeiro and coconut are amongst the most popular flavors and all of the cupcakes are beautifully decorated and come in fitted carrier boxes. Vintage Cupcakes stands can be found in most major shopping malls including Rio Sul in Botafogo, Rio design Barra and Barra Shopping in Barra da Tijuca.
Finally, for something a little different, Confeitaria Kurt is a German bakery in Leblon offering conventionally made German cakes and pastries. With a wide selection of Tortes in a variety of flavors, Confeitaria Kurt is one of the only bakeries in Rio specializing in traditional European sweets. The menu includes Torta Damascus, Black Forest, Strawberry and Austrian favorite Chocolate Sacher.
If you don’t know what those are, all the more reason to go explore Rio’s culinary treats and sweet delights.