“Allergic to the world” is how Ariana Caraballo describes her relationship with food. That, in part, was an impetus for her to open ALC Artistic Bakery, which combines her particular food sensitivities with one of her favorite pastimes.
In addition to offering a wide range of baked goods, including gluten-free and vegan options for those with similar issues to her own, the 20-year-old self-taught artist includes hand-painted canvasses with large cake orders that her clients can keep as a memento of their celebration. She is also receiving praise for her equally creative local murals.
Among her baked offerings, the guava pastries and sugar cookies are top sellers.
“A lot of bakeries make guava pastries that are heavy, or they have more guava or a harder shell,” she offers. “I like mine to be soft and fluffy. They have to be the right consistency when you put them in the oven in order to be light when you bite into them. I also add some things to the guava paste to make it my own.”
Caraballo also offers specialty items such as flan, tres leches cake and sweet rice with cinnamon.
She doesn’t have a set menu and explains that she can create custom cakes in whatever flavor and theme her clients request.
“One recent cake that was pretty fun was a guitar cake,” she notes. “It was pretty cool. It’s definitely science and math when it comes to building a structure like that. I love experimenting with new things and being put to a challenge.”
Caraballo also wants to ensure that those who can’t enjoy traditional sweets still have a great experience, which is why she goes the extra mile for her customers. She says her recipe for a gluten-free, vegan, nut-free chocolate cupcake took three tries before she was happy with the texture and taste.
“We were in the hospital a lot when she was a kid because of her allergies,” her mother Esmirna Caraballo recalls. “She’d be at birthday parties or weddings and couldn’t enjoy anybody’s cake. She was meeting other people like her and even when she was small, she would say, ‘One day I’m gonna open a bakery so I can eat and everybody that’s like me can eat too.’”