Copyright © 2023 Albuquerque Journal
Editor’s note: Cocina Connection is a once-a-month feature that takes a behind-the-scenes look at a New Mexico-based chef, who, in turn, shares some recipes.
Kendall Harris begins every day from scratch.
On some days, she finds herself inside the kitchen before dawn with her team, ready to take on the day.
There are endless ideas for the tasty treats created by the team at Cake Fetish Bakery & Dessert Bar.
It’s for this reason that Harris loves what she does.
“It’s fun to articulate around food,” she says. “Being a bakery, there are two main reasons people are coming to you. They are coming either to be cheered up or need to celebrate. It’s a world that has all the ingredients.”
Harris runs Cake Fetish with her father-in-law, Bill Harris. The family bought the business in 2011.
Today, Cake Fetish has grown to two locations. The first is on inside Encantada Square, 2665 Louisiana Blvd. NE, and a new location at Tin Can Alley, 6110 Alameda Blvd. NE, Suite 2.
Harris finds herself often traveling between the two at various times of the day.
Because the Tin Can Alley location is a retail location, Harris and her team will bake at the original location and shuttle the treats to Tin Can Alley.
“We’re still figuring out a flow for us,” she says.
Harris and her team create delicious gems such as Boston Cream, Drama Queen, Peanut Butter Cup and Sleepless in Albuquerque. Their Valentine’s Day offerings includes pieces like Chantilly Lace, Berry White, The Rose, Cupid’s Chocolate, Amore and Love Me Tender.
Harris was born and raised in Albuquerque. She went to Eldorado High School and University of New Mexico.
While she enjoyed baking, it wasn’t at the forefront of her life.
“I was involved in exercise physiology. That’s what I studied in school,” she says. “We were looking for a family business to invest in and came across Cake Fetish.”
After the family purchased it, Harris’ love for baking continued to grow.
“I’m all self-taught,” she says. “It’s cool to be a staple in people’s houses. Everyday, we start from scratch and push our imagination in the creative process.”
Harris and her team had the opportunity to be on the Cooking Channel’s competition series, “Sugar Showdown,” in 2015.
The series has three expert bakers battle it out two rounds of fun and intense challenges for a chance to win a sweet grand prize of $10,000.
“It was nerve-wracking being on the show because I’m not a professional chef,” she says. “I was competing against other professionals. I beat both of them to win $10,000. It was then I realized that I had stumbled upon my passion.”
Her children today get the opportunity to watch the rerun of the episode.
“It reminds me of the journey I’ve had to get to this moment,” she says. “There were a lot of hard and expensive lessons to be learned. It was this big puzzle that we had to find all the pieces to put it together.”
Harris is quick to credit all of her employees for its success.
“They have been my right hands,” she says. “It’s really rewarding and fun industry to be in.”
Yet, there are always challenges.
With the pandemic still affecting prices and chain of supply, sourcing the best ingredients is difficult and pricey.
“A case of eggs would run about $19 to $29,” Harris says. “A few weeks ago, I was paying $68 to $98 for the same case of eggs. For us, I can’t raise the prices for a cupcake too much because people simply won’t buy it. It’s trying to find the balance in the uncertain world right now.”
Despite those challenges, Harris moves forward because the items at Cake Fetish make people happy.
“We use ingredients that you would be able to find in your own kitchen,” she says. “The sky is the limit when it comes to the creation process. We tell customers that we can do whatever you want as long as your budget can afford it.”
Cake Fetish also pays attention to what’s going on locally to incorporate into its creations.
“If Los Poblanos is harvesting their lavender, we’ll do lavender-themed items,” she says. “Balloon Fiesta, we will theme those cupcakes around that. It’s always fun because we’re working on something different every day.”
With desserts, Harris encourages everyone to have fun with baking.
She’s included a fun recipe to make at home.
“This is the best way to jazz up your boxed cake mix when you are short on time and still want a quality product,” Harris says.
Chocolate- Covered Strawberry Cupcakes
1 box of strawberry cake mix (you will need to the ingredients listed on the cake mix box, plus the additional ingredients listed below)
2 16-ounce containers of strawberry buttercream
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
¼ cup flour
1 16-ounce package semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 quart heavy whipping cream
Festive sprinkles, optional
Follow the directions for the strawberry cake mix with the following modifications: substitute melted unsalted butter instead of oil (at a 1:1 ratio); add an extra egg; add ¼ cup flour (high altitude); and add 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract.
Line a cupcake/muffin pan with liners and fill liners 2/3 full of raw batter. Bake according to box instructions, rotating ½ way through baking time to ensure even baking.
To check if the cupcake is baked, stick a toothpick into a cupcake in the center of the pan, if it comes out clean it is done. If not, add an additional 2 minutes at a time until the toothpick comes out clean.
While the cupcakes are baking start the buttercream.
Place the container of strawberry buttercream in a stand mixer or a medium sized bowl for a hand mixer. Add 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract. Whip until it doubles in size and becomes fluffy.
Place buttercream in a 16-to-18-inch piping bag with a round pastry tip or a gallon-sized zip-close bag and cut off 1 inch of a corner to pipe buttercream onto cooled/room temperature cupcakes.
Pipe a round swirl covering the circumference of the cupcake (think an ice cream swirled cone).
Place iced cupcakes on a tray and put in the freezer while you prepare your chocolate ganache.
To make the chocolate ganache place 2 cups of semi-sweet chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl. Add 2-3 cups of heavy cream until it covers 1 inch over the chocolate chips.
Microwave for 1 minute, 30 seconds, then stir chocolate and cream until it starts combining.
Keep microwaving in 30 second increments until the chocolate melts completely and becomes smooth and glossy. Add in ¼ cup of heavy cream at a time if it’s too thick.
Ganache should be the consistency of honey.
Take cupcakes out of the freezer and dip into the warm chocolate ganache. Immediately add any festive sprinkles or special toppings before it sets.
Enjoy and share your delicious cupcakes or come to Cake Fetish and have us make them for you.
(Recipe from Kendall Harris, Cake Fetish)