Honey Cakes Go Brazilian with Kika’s Treats

Hailing from Brazil, Cristina Arantes of Kika’s Treats grew up in a place where cocoa was ever-present. It’s also one of the main reasons why she loves chocolate. Her first product offerings reflect her native Brazil, like the dense honey cakes (also known as pão de mel) made mostly of honey and spices. They’re also covered with chocolate to prolong its flavor and moist texture.

We visited Cristina at her studio to see how her chocolate-covered confections are made:

What’s your favorite flavor among your treats?
Right now, the salted crunch caramels which are made with coconut palm sugar. I also have a collaboration with Dandelion Chocolate only sold on their store and on my website. And that’s become my new favorite. They’re all my children… so it’s hard to say.

What’s been the highlight of your career so far?
There hasn’t been one particular highlight. But to be honest, when people are happy to meet the producers and then I get an email from a happy customer saying, “you make the best product!”

Can we pair or treats with any drinks?
The honey cakes, which were the original products, are great with coffee and tea. Chai tea is amazing because it has all those spices along with the honey cakes. That taste combination is incredible. On the same note, I’ve also had it with bourbon.

With the caramelized graham crackers, some have crumbled it on top of ice cream.

There’s also a wine company up in Sonoma County that likes pairing the dark chocolate in the graham crackers with their port wines.

So it depends on what you want to pair it with. You can get very creative.

What’s been the most challenging aspect of starting a business?
I’ve been fortunate enough to start my business at La Cocina, a non profit incubator for food businesses in San Francisco’s Mission District. They guide you with your idea, help you create a business plan and throughout the whole process. Ever since I left, I’ve had my own space but it’s challenging to take it to the next level. We’re no longer a small operation, but we’re not big by any means. I’ve been growing it organically every year, little by little.

Has food always been a big aspect in your life?
I’ve been a lifelong baker. That’s why my logo features a young girl since I started very young, around 6 or 7 years old. That’s when I first got my Easy Bake Oven, which still works, by the way. My mom didn’t really like to cook but she loved baking.

But being in San Francisco for almost fourteen years is great. I was telling my friends I wouldn’t know what to do if I left San Francisco. We’re so spoiled, we have so much good food available all the time.

Even when I go back to Brazil, which has very good food, I miss San Francisco because the food is so much better (laughs). Locanda, Pizzeria Delfina and Heirloom Cafe are amazing and my favorite places to go. If you invite me out for dinner, I would say let’s go to Locanda.

What still surprises you about San Francisco?
I come from Sao Paolo in Brazil, which is a huge, over-developed city. So I never noticed the changes that happen. But you notice it in San Francisco, especially in the past few years with new development. The prices have definitely gone up. But I can’t imagine living anywhere else.

What are you most proud of as a Latina business owner?
I’m really proud about my business; that I’ve been able to start and grow it as a foreigner for the past 7 years. I had to adapt to a new culture even though I’m coming from a western society as well. You have to adapt to tastes, to people.

Watch Cristina Arantes in action!

Video produced for TheCitizenCulture (now defunct project by Beverly)