Concha Taste Test #15: Pastelería Suiza

Let me blow your mind for a second. In Mexico, there exists an item known as the whipped-cream filled concha.

One concha. Two halves. Whipped center.

It’s a concha sandwich. With sweet sugared cream for the filling.

I found these conchas at Pastelería Suiza, a bakery in Condesa known for its Rosca de Reyes cakes. The place is charming — it opened in 1942 — but I hadn’t been a fan, due to a mediocre pan de muerto I bought there a few years ago.

Recently, a local chef saw one of my business cards, which are printed with pictures of conchas. She mentioned that one of her staff members adored Pastelería Suiza’s conchas.

I tried twice, and failed, to arrive at Pastelería Suiza when the conchas were coming out of the oven. Finally today around 10:30 a.m., there they were: a tray of conchas lined up in a row, bellies bulging with cream. I bought one cream-filled and two plain, and waited while the cashier wrapped the package carefully in paper and twine. Taking it home, I felt a little bit like bursting into song.

She even wrapped the conchas with strips of cardboard — anti-smoosh protectors, if you will, ensuring that the rolls remained fluffy.

These conchas got an A+ for presentation alone. And I really, really wanted to like them.

However… the cream-filled conchas were too sweet. Mixing the whipped cream with sugar was overload — I felt like I was eating a Hostess cupcake. Plain whipped cream would’ve allowed the bread and topping to shine. (And not make me feel like I need to brush my teeth afterward.)

The plain conchas were the lightest I’ve tried in a long time. The roll sliced easily with my serrated knife, and it had just a whisper of orange blossoms, probably from the addition of orange-blossom water. Unfortunately the crumb was too dry. A bit more butter — not Matisse amounts, but just a wee bit more — would’ve been nice.

I’m still conflicted about whether adding more butter is true to the concha’s original history. I’d love to research early concha recipes, but I’m not sure they even exist. My copy of the Nuevo Cocinero Mexicano, originally printed in 1888, mentions conchas only in a savory context — the word referred to oyster shells and various ways to fill them.

Here’s my final rating on Pastelería Suiza. I’d eat the plain ones again, but they wouldn’t be my first pick.

Appearance: 5.
Taste: 3
Overall: 3

So where should I go next? Anyone have any ideas on where I can research panaderías in Mexico?

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14 Responses to “Concha Taste Test #15: Pastelería Suiza”
  1. Joy Victory

    They’re also pretty rude there. At least if you bring your guera parents and they have cameras.

  2. Notorious MLE

    Mission Accomplished: Mind Blown!

  3. Don Cuevas

    Are you certain that it’s really whipped cream in the filling? Could it be a more stable blend of whipped fats, non fat dry milk, sugar and flavoring?
    I’m thinking of the white whippeefluff in long john donuts and the like.

    We recently passed up the Pastelería Suiza on our Food Trek around Parque México. It would just have been overkill.

    Saludos,
    Don Cuevas

    • Ruth Alegria

      Oh what a dilemma since I also have tasted the “nata” filled breads. And there lies the difference – yes it could be called whipped cream but in reality what they use is “nata” a slightly yellowish, fresh cream skimmed from the top of whole milk and absolutely lovely in its original form.
      The best “nata”, unwhipped and areated, are the small dishes served with conchas at El Cardenal….

      • Lesley

        Ruth: I’ve tried fresh nata, but the whipped and un-whipped kinds, and this was much lighter than that. It was basically like a whipped cream, sweetened with a lot of sugar. Agree that the El Cardenal conchas are fabulous.

    • Lesley

      Hi DC: I didn’t ask them if it was real cream or fake, but it did taste to me like a whipped cream I’d make at home, using a quart of crema Lyncott para batir. It didn’t have the weird Twinkie-cream taste. But it definitely wasn’t thick like the nata I’ve tasted at local cremerías.

  4. Norma Hawthorne

    I guess if you don’t like them, you don’t eat all of it, right? I’m thinking one must do a lot of walking to counterbalance the continuous tasting of ultra-deliciousness or uber-sweetness. My dilemma is how to keep eating, tasting and staying healthy! How do you do it, Lesley?

    • Lesley

      Hi Norma: The eternal question! :-) No, I don’t eat the whole concha, even if I do like it.

      I try not to eat sweet or fattening things every single day. When I’m not eating on the street or in bakeries, I prepare fresh things at home. Lots of vegetables, fresh salads, whole grains, lots of water, not a lot of meat. I also recently gave up caffeine and alcohol, which has made a huge impact. (I have much more energy and feel a lot better.) Plus I try to hit the gym three to four times a week, where I do an hour of cardio or strength training. And I ride my bike everywhere.

      I would love to cut out processed sugar all together, except for the occasional concha tasting, but it’s been really difficult for me. I adore sweet tamales, dark chocolate and my occasional morning atole too much.

  5. mario

    Brace yourself. Ever been to Veracruz? They have these things called “bombas”… Basically conchas filled with…frijoles.

  6. Don Cuevas

    The bomba reminds me somewhat of Chinese bean-filled Moon Cakes.

    Saludos,
    Don Cuevas

  7. Regina

    Hey! I’m Mexican and have lived in Mexico City all my life, although I now live in Canada. But I have to agree with you that the food in Mexico is definitely one of a kind, and pretty great. In my many years of stuffing my face with pan dulce, I think I found that my favorite conchas are the ones at Maque. It’s a bakery. You just gotta walk by the entrance and the smell just pulls you in. It’s fabulous. There are a lot of Maques around the city, but here are two:

    Maque

    Pastelería y Café

    Polanco
    Emilio Castelar no. 209
    Tel. 5281 6429 / 2489 5695

    Condesa
    Ozuluana no. 4
    Tel. 2454 4662

    There is another one in las Lomas, but I’m not sure exactly where. I think it’s in Monte Libano. It’s fantassstic. :) Hope this helps.

    • Lesley

      Thanks Regina! I tried Maque in Condesa and found the conchas a little on the dry side for me. But that was a few years ago, so maybe it’s worth another try. Thanks for the comment!

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