Dulce Dreams Cafe brings flavors of Mexico to Charlotte

Dulce Dreams Cafe brings flavors of Mexico to Charlotte

Manteconchas, or concha-topped muffins. Photo courtesy of Norma Zuniga

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Owner Norma Zuniga opened Dulce (pronounced dool-seh) Dreams as a pop-up bakery last December. Less than a year later, she quit her job as a lab technician to pursue her pastry-making passion full-time.

Between the lines: Zuniga, a Mexican-born Charlottean, taught herself how to bake her signature dishes by watching YouTube videos. Now, her side hustle is her full-time career. “I’m really nervous and scared,” she told me, “but I’m really excited.”

The big picture: Nearly one in four new businesses in the U.S. are Hispanic-owned, according to the Small Business Alliance. Charlotte has seen this boom firsthand, especially in the restaurant industry, with new restaurants like Cuban-owned El Puro and Venezuelan-owned Los Chamos opening up in the last year, to name a few.

    Dulce Dreams

    Zuniga often sells out at pop-ups. Photo courtesy of Norma Zuniga

    Flashback: Zuniga immigrated to Charlotte from Mexico when she was five years old. She graduated from Johnson C. Smith University with a degree in biology and never expected to become a baker.

    • “I didn’t have any [pastry-making] role models growing up or anything like that,” Zuniga told me, adding that the only other Latina baker she knows is Cris from the Batchmaker.
    • Zuniga hopes to inspire other Latinas looking to start their own businesses. “If they really want something, they can do it.”
    Dulce Dreams

    Pumpkin spice concha sandwich. Photo courtesy of Norma Zuniga

    What to expect: Conchas (a Mexican sweet bread in the shape of a sea shell) of various flavors and colors, baked individually and as sweet sandwiches.

    • Ube pastries, made from a purple yam from the Philippines.
    • Tres leches cheesecake made with conchas and ube.
    • Mexican coffee with different flavors like marzipan.
    • Cafe de olla, a different type of Mexican coffee made with cinnamon and clove.
    • And atole, which is traditional hot corn and masa-based beverage.
    Dulce Dreams

    Gansito concha. Photo courtesy of Norma Zuniga

    Details: Zuniga operates Dulce Dreams out of Sweet Spot Studio in Oakhurst.

    • Pre-orders are available for pick-up and Zuniga posts her availability (which she’s about to increase) on the Dulce Dreams Cafe Instagram.
    • Zuniga also participates at local pop-ups and posts where she’ll be ahead of time on her Instagram as well.

    What’s next: Zuniga says her goal is to open a brick-and-mortar eventually.

    Dulce Dreams

    Ube cheesecake. Photo courtesy of Norma Zuniga

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