All images courtesy of Yoly Navarro.
Sure, baby showers should have cake. But no one really thought cakes should have babies until Mexican cake entrepreneur Yoly Navarro, who makes hyper-realistic, otherworldly desserts that encase entire sleeping babies in tombs of wobbly gelatin. Gelatin desserts (even those depicting humans) have a long history in Mexico, and it’s not uncommon to see jiggly, three-dimensional flowers at sweet shops. But there’s something deeply next-level about Navarro’s cakes.
Navarro started her dessert company, Gelatinas Artisticas Yoly, in 2015 and she makes all of her desserts from her family’s home in Guadalajara, Mexico. “I started off making the baby desserts as gifts for friends' baby showers, then people began to order them,” Navarro explains. As well as the huge intricate desserts filled with dozens of babies, Navarro also makes individual desserts with solo babies wearing angel wings or fuzzy hats.
Most food that's made to look like body parts or people (like these cakes and this bread) tends to border on the macabre, but these desserts feel like a celebration of birth. Navarro’s use of clear jello makes the babies appear as though they’re in the womb, sleeping restfully in placental fluid.
Each large dessert takes Navarro around six hours to make and involves many steps. “The babies are made with molds; usually I make the mold first with clay,” she explains. “At the request of customers I’ve made a range of baby molds: naked babies; babies with clothes and diapers; miniature babies; and larger babies up to about 13 pounds.”
How the babies are made is a carefully-protected secret, to an extent: “For the babies I use milk, yogurt, flavoring, cream cheese, and another secret delicious ingredient,” Navarro says. She then pours the mixture into the clay molds she’s made, then, once they’ve set, encases them in gelatin. The cakes themselves come in a fairly broad range of flavors; most common, Navarro says, are walnut, eggnog, vanilla, strawberry, and coffee. “The baby desserts aren’t traditional, but I like to make my cakes the center of attention, rather than just a cake,” Navarro explains.