While everyone was raving over the burnt cheesecake trend last year, Tang Ling thought, “Why not avocado cheesecake instead?”
“I love eating avocados. I’d always dreamt of owning an avocado cafe when I’m older, probably after the age of 30 when I’m financially stable,” Tang Ling, the founder of Dolicado shared with Vulcan Post.
So she started Dolicado, an online business that aims to sell all things avocado, starting with avocado cheesecakes.
“I thought in order to make avocado more acceptable, maybe sweetened avocado could be a good start to change people’s perception towards the fruit,” she figured, and immediately, avocado cheesecakes came to mind.
Challenging Cheesecake Norms
Now, dairy alternatives haven’t fully penetrated the Malaysian market, let alone desserts that incorporate them. Something like an avocado cheesecake is still foreign to our local market. Overseas though, it’s a different story.
Many years back, Tang Ling had followed an avocado concept store from Amsterdam called The Avocado Show, which was where she got her inspiration from.
To bring Dolicado to life, she spent 3 months (from April to June 2020) practising and experimenting with her own recipes.
Why avocados? Because they’re filled with a bunch of vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats, especially, which make them a healthier substitute for cream cheese, Tang Ling shared.
As she had no prior experience in baking, she needed to figure everything out from scratch, like learning the differences between the texture and taste of butter, cream cheese as well as heavy cream. Her R&D also includes cross-testing different brands and portions of every ingredient to be used in a cheesecake.
“I gave a lot of thought into the design of my cheesecake and decided to bring everything I love together: flowers, the colour green to represent avocados, and a rectangular cake shape to defeat the conventional round cheesecake shape,” she said.
Breaking Even In 4 Months
Currently, Tang Ling runs Dolicado on her own after starting this business in July 2020. She works full-time as a fashion designer.
As a creative, she sees this home baking business as another platform for her to explore her personal brand and push boundaries in her creativity.
Since her schedule is tight, she only attends to Dolicado on the weekends but is slowly accepting orders on the weekdays to accommodate the growing demand.
She sells about 200 cakes per month and is earning an RM4k monthly revenue just for her weekend orders. In her fourth month of running the business, she broke even and has been profitable since.
Most of her customers are young women, a lot of whom bought from her because of the cake’s aesthetics. Returning customers contribute to 10% of her sales as of now.
Her cakes range from RM38 to RM168, depending on the size of the cakes and tart shell. For all her cakes, she uses Australian Jumbo Hass avocados because they have a slower oxidisation rate (so they don’t turn brown so fast).
A Pricey Base Ingredient
Most of us can agree that one of the reasons Malaysians don’t eat avocados much is because of how expensive they are, which is also an issue Tang Ling faces in her business.
Tang Ling shared that since May 2020, the price of avocados has actually inflated by 1.6x, which narrowed her profit margins.
However, she decided not to charge higher for her cakes and hopes that when her demand increases, she can source avocados in bulk to improve her overall margin.
Another issue that she faces with this business is the quick oxidisation nature of avocados. Hence, she would always advise her customers to consume her cakes within 1-2 days.
“After that time, the cake would start forming a brown layer on the surface, which is still safe to be eaten but the taste may have slightly altered,” she explained.
Putting Avocado In More Desserts
Tang Ling’s main goal for Dolicado now is to expand it into a physical concept store when she has the means to do so.
“I’m already having bizarre ideas on how I’d like to decorate the space and the different types of avocado dishes I want to experiment on,” she shared with Vulcan Post.
“I am planning to release more avocado related desserts in the future, there are so many more interesting avocado desserts to explore, like avocado cream puffs and avocado lava cake.”
She is already in the works of making this happen, as she is currently speaking to several experts in the F&B industry on how she can bring this concept store of her dreams to life.
As someone who’s tried avocado shake and used it as a spread to replace butter, having avocados replace a few common dairy ingredients has never disappointed me.
Because of how neutral this fruit tastes, it’s possible to incorporate it in all kinds of desserts and food that we’re used to, with its added creaminess as a bonus.
So while this is a niche market that Tang Ling is catering to as of now, the possibility of her expanding into more F&B products and converting more customers is pretty viable.
Featured Image Credit: Tang Ling, founder of Dolicado