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Recipe Challenge: Mari Rubio of Casa Gioia

Guava crisps, dulce de leche, tres leches, and of course the signature Nutella chocolate chip cookies––these are just a few of the reasons why locals rave about Casa Gioia (pronounced “joy-a”) in Miami.

We caught up with Mari Rubio, the creative genius behind the business, to see how she and the bakery have adapted during the pandemic while challenging her to create a new recipe for you all to try at home. You game? Then read on!

How has COVID-19 affected your business?

Since most coffee shops and restaurants closed, we lost all of our wholesale accounts which were about 50% of our business. We also had to close for a month when it started and just recently re-opened with new hours and only pickup available.

How have you pivoted your normal day-to-day operations to keep up with demand/business during COVID-19?

We have had to certainly restructure the way we do business. We recently reopened and it has taken some time to adjust to the new “norm”. We have narrowed down our menu and have adjusted our best sellers to fit the current situation like offering smaller sizes of our cakes and tres leches, selling frozen cookies to bake at home, and those sort of things. For Mother’s Day we implemented a “drive thru” system to make pickup as efficient and safe for our customers as possible. The “drive thru” was such a success that we may implement it for the time being.

What are some new/effective ways you’ve been engaging with your customers (online + off)?

When we closed, I was at home quarantining and made a bunch of recipes and posted them on Casa Gioia’s IGTV. People were DM’ing me asking for tips and expressing how much they had loved the recipe, and that was so nice to see. Followers from all over, even people that I didn’t even know were watching, were tagging me on their stories to see the goodies they had baked with my recipes. It made me so happy to be able to bring ‘gioia’ to people’s lives while Casa Gioia was closed!

Photos from @CasaGioiaUS on Instagram.

What’s are some of your current best sellers and why do you think they’re so popular?

People can’t live without: Chocolate Chip Nutella cookies, Guava Bundt cake with cream cheese frosting, Tres Leches, and the Dominican cakes! What I think people love most about our desserts is how close to home they taste.

First place you’re going to go when the pandemic is over?

To have a drink at one of my favorite bars, The Sylvester!

What are some of your favorite restaurants/bakeries outside of your own?

My favorite Miami restaurants are Ariete, Fooq’s, and Mandolin Aegean Bistro, and for bakeries Madruga Bakery, True Loaf, and Cindy Lou’s Cookies!

Now the fun part. We’re going to give you five pantry items: chocolate chips, bananas, almonds, canned coconut milk, and honey. What would you make and what’s the recipe?

Printable version here.

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20-25 minutes
Total Time: Approx 35 minutes
Yields: 8 servings


• 1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
• 3 tablespoons butter (preferably salted), melted
• 2 tsp ground cinnamon
• 1/4 cup granulated sugar
• 7 oz semi sweet chocolate chips (you can do a mixture of semi & milk chocolate)
• 4 medium ripe bananas, cut in half lengthwise
• Toasted almonds

Honey Caramel Sauce
• 1/2 stick butter, room temperature
• 1/3 cup brown sugar
• 1/4 cup coconut milk (full fat)
• 1/3 cup honey
• pinch of salt

Method of Preparation

Caramel Sauce
• Melt butter in a small heavy saucepan over medium heat.
• Stir in brown sugar, coconut milk, honey and salt.
• Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium, and simmer until glaze is golden brown and glossy, 3–4 minutes.
• Set aside until ready to use. Also, toast almonds until fragrant and golden. • Let cool.

• Preheat oven to 425F.
• On a lightly floured surface, roll the puff pastry into a rectangle about 1/4″ thick.
• Place the pastry on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
• Using a sharp knife, score a 1″ border around the edge.
• Place in the freezer for 10 minutes. (This will help get a crunchy galette)
• Brush the melted butter all over the pastry.
In a small bowl, mix granulated sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle it around the edges of the galette. Save some to sprinkle on top of the bananas.
• Arrange the chocolate chips in an even layer all over the pastry, leaving intact the 1″ border we just scored.
• Lay the bananas, cut side up in an even layer over the chocolate chips. • Sprinkle generously with the cinnamon sugar. If you have any leftover cinnamon sugar, sprinkle some more around the edges.
• Bake for 20-25 minutes until the edges are dark golden brown and the bananas are starting to caramelize. Edges will get dark and that’s okay.
• Let cool slightly and serve with coco whip or vanilla ice cream, honey caramel and toasted almonds.

Need more cake and cookies in your life? Enjoy all the delicious treats that Casa Gioia has to offer by placing a pickup or delivery order via their website and be sure to follow @CasaGioiaUS on social for the latest and greatest offers + happenings!