Kimberly Mesa / Owner, KimmyKakes, Chicago, Illinois

The classic winter flavor combination of pear and ginger helps bakers create aromatic, spicy-sweet holiday treats like the Ginger Pear Cheesecake Kimberly Mesa bakes for Chicago-area Whole Foods Markets.

Kimberly’s artisan wholesale retail cake shop, KimmyKakes, focuses on quality, community and economic opportunity in the context of baking, one of life’s enduring simple pleasures.

“Growing up in Chicago, one of my most vivid memories is of going to my grandparents’ house after school and baking with my grandmother,” Kimberly says. “She gave me the freedom to experiment with different flavors and recipes and encouraged my culinary curiosity.”

KimmyKakes’ goal is to provide cakes with “gourmet flavor and homemade taste.” When she’s not processing whole fruit, Kimberly flavors her cakes almost exclusively with The Perfect Purée products including Key Lime Concentrate, Passion Fruit Concentrate, Cherry Puree, Strawberry Puree and Lemon Zest. This year for the holidays, she’s adding The Perfect Purée Ginger Puree and Pear Puree to her shelf of flavors and experimenting with The Perfect Purée Cranberry Puree instead of whole cranberries in a Pumpkin Cranberry Cheesecake.

Cheesecake is synonymous with comfort food any time of year but in 2020 because of COVID, people seem to have more of a craving for it. KimmyKakes specializes in unique flavors like Churro Cake with cinnamon and salted caramel and spicy Mexican Hot Chocolate. Kimberly says the enthusiasm has encouraged her to think about expanding from the wholesale and retail markets into regional and possibly nationwide shipping.

She says she switched to The Perfect Purée four years ago in response to Whole Foods’ requirements.

“They have certain standards in terms of what we can use and it was difficult to find a key lime concentrate that didn’t have offensive ingredients,” she says.

KimmyKakes’ Key Lime Cheesecake has a balanced sweet-tart key lime flavor and cheesecake texture without added sugar or artificial ingredients. Kimberly says it’s a year-round bestseller.

“I thought the key lime would die over the winter but it doesn’t because I think it reminds people of being somewhere warm during winter in Chicago,” Kimberly says.