At a young age, Caitlin Olsen, owner of Coquette Artisanal Cakes, began baking alongside her paternal grandmother. “I would go sit with her in the early morning before the rest of the family awoke, and that was our special time together. I could talk with her, and it was the only time I had my grandmother all to myself,” she recalls. Her grandmother’s legacy lives on at Coquette, where Olsen continues to use her recipes for three of her cakes.
Coquette does not have a physical storefront and is not currently filling individual orders, although Olsen happily accepts orders for special event cakes and tiered wedding cakes. Each wedding cake’s flavor profile and design are customized not only to reflect the couple’s personalities and wishes, but also to complement the aesthetic of the wedding ceremony and reception. A socially distanced wedding cake tasting can be scheduled by contacting Olsen at email@example.com or 505–372–8957.
Olsen makes every cake with high-quality, locally sourced and sustainable ingredients, including Navajo Pride flour, High Desert Honey from Taos, and locally sourced eggs, dairy and berries. When a recipe calls for coffee, she obtains it from Iconik Coffee Roasters.
Coquette’s signature products are artisanal layered cakes, baked fresh daily with love and presented in 16-ounce mason jars that are ornamented with ribbons and a colorful lid. The cakes embody the joyful lightheartedness of their simple beginnings. During the summer of 2019, Olsen envisioned selling delicious cakes in decorated mason jars from the large back basket of a vintage, adult-size three-wheeler to beachgoers in Montauk, New York. “It’s fun seeing a decorated jar with cake in it,” Olsen says. “It makes people happy.”
The signature layered cakes in embellished jars are available at several Northern New Mexico locations. Starting in May, these treats will be sold in Santa Fe at La Montanita Co-Op, Chomp Food Hall, and The Deli at Sassella. In Albuquerque, Coquette artisanal cakes in decorated jars will be available at The Rail Yards Market.
Olsen has created custom desserts for two Santa Fe businesses. The Deli at Sassella, 216 Mckenzie Street (thedeliatsasella.com), will soon feature three traditional Italian desserts made with a Coquette twist and layered in decorated jars. She has also created three specialty desserts for Santa Fe Spirits (santafespirits.com) that feature the award-winning artisan distillery’s handcrafted liquors. The desserts include apple pear crisp with apple brandy and New York style cheesecake; baklava drizzled in honey with Atapiño Liqueur (reflecting the piñon, ponderosa and oak of New Mexico’s terroir) and crème brûlée; and chocolate molten cake with dark cherries and macaroons layered in a coconut Colkegan whiskey sauce. Patrons will find these specialty cakes at Santa Fe Spirits’ Downtown Tasting Room, 308 Read Street, Thursday through Sunday, from 3:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.
Olsen feels strongly about giving back to and staying involved in the community. “I want to be part of impactful change in the community and, to me, that means getting involved,” she says. “If I’m going to say that I’m committed to sustainable practices, I have to look at the community I’m part of and ask What can I do to help?” Toward this end, she donates Coquette gift baskets and 10 percent of monthly autumn sales to local nonprofits, composts organic waste, sources ingredients locally whenever possible and teaches pastry skills to a summer intern.
Looking to the future, Olsen plans to expand Coquette Artisanal Cakes into stores and chains throughout the Southwest. And as Coquette grows, Olsen says that sustainability and quality of ingredients will remain at the center of the business’ philosophy. “I’m excited to reach more people. I think I have a really great product, and people are excited about it,” she says.
Geoff Lambeth is a writer and photographer based in Santa Fe. He spends his free time backpacking, traveling to new places and enjoying old music. Passionate about pursuing under reported issues and sharing untold stories, Geoff aims to showcase a range of experiences and viewpoints through his work.