Category Archives: Cupcakes

2012 – A Year in Review …

Happy New Year everyone! I’m hoping this is one of the last looooong round-up posts I’ll have, as one of my many resolutions for 2013 is to be more present here in the blogosphere!

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Before I begin the round-up of sweets, I thought I’d let everyone know why the blog was a bit quiet this year. I know I’ve broken probably every rule of a successful blogger, and was barely present blog-wise in 2012. For starters, I blame the ever addictive Facebook. Before the ease of being able to churn out quick posts on Facebook (mostly photos & mostly with my iPhone), I always felt the need to get blog posts together for every project to update everyone on what was going on in the world of Sweet Element Cakes. Then add in twitter (also slacked there in 2012 …), pinterest (still figuring it out),  flickr (almost up to-date), managing my own website (something I think I may finally give up this year), figuring out that having an intern isn’t neccesarily a good thing, getting audited (we survived & owe nothing – thank you to awesome accountants & my OCD about keeping all receipts!), getting into a minor car accident, dealing with a few not-so-happy clients for the first time ever, and oh, the million and one other things that I needed to do – like actually MAKE the cakes and deliver them (many times unexpectedly solo – more on that in future posts) – and I just got overwhelmed.

I’ve debated about how personal to be here on this lil’ cake blog, and I’ve been inspired this year by reading some very honest posts from cake designers I admire about the reality of our profession. None has struck home more than Mike Elder‘s blog, which I’ve found incredibly bold, very personal and almost therapeutic to read. It’s nice to know I’m not alone in a lot of the craziness that we cake makers & other creative types endure! It’s a catch-22 for me, because I think it’s important to put a positive front out there – especially in such a “sweet” business – but I do think that at times, especially when the going is rougher than expected, that trying to put on a super positive front on-line as well as here on the blog was just impossible. So, starting with this first not-so little post of 2013 – you’ll notice that things will be a bit different here on the blog! I’ll still post all the sweet stories behind my cakes & keep everyone updated on my latest projects, but I’ll also be opening up about the reality of running a one woman cake studio in the NYC metro area. So, buckle up – if 2012 was any indication of what 2013 holds in store – it’s gonna be a hell of a ride!

And now … onto the 2012 round-up!

I was extremely happy to have Sweet Element Cakes featured in the bridal press this year in The Knot, Brides, New York Weddings, both the NY & NJ editions of Contemporary Bride, and numerous blogs.
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And then there were the events … here’s a snapshot of the highs & lows of each.

sweetelement_nyc_glbt_expo2GLBT Expo High: Mr. Sweet Element & I were smart enough to bring along a few extra pairs of hands to help pass out over 6,000 mini cupcake samples over the two-day event.
GLBT Expo Low: My iPhone got STOLEN on the second day. 😦

jen_ramiBrides/bebe event High: Getting to design one of my favorite wedding cakes of the year inspired by a dress design by Rami Kashou.
Brides/bebe event Low: I think I said everything I could in this previous post.

sweetelement_table_jay_inbliss_mamIn Bliss Launch High: Getting to meet some awesome fellow cake designers & NJ wedding pros & also see the Montclair Art Museum for the first time!
In Bliss Launch Low: Getting to meet some not-so-friendly competition. (Unfortunately, the cake world isn’t all sweet y’all.)

thecreamThe Cream High: Having Mr. Sweet Element back from Belgium in time to go with me.
The Cream Low: Me being too totally wiped out from an all-night cake session & him from a crazy business trip and trans-atlantic flight to really enjoy ourselves. (We left with unused drink tickets – for shame!)

bridesstyleshopBrides Style Shop High: Finally getting to meet & have dinner with another cake designer & her husband. Always great to be able to talk to people that get it!
Brides Style Shop Low: Finding out that the cake stands for the cakes were too small to put my extremely fragile cake on which meant leaving it on it’s ugly “transport-only” cardboard board. Ugh.

sweetelement_openhouse_setupIt was also nice to be able to open the studio for a few events this year as well. We had a fabulous turn out for The Sweet Element studio’s 2nd anniversary party in May & our holiday open house in December. Hopefully I’ll be able to plan a few more open studio events for 2013!

A few firsts for 2012:

1st Logo Re-Design! As with many other businesses, after a few years in the trenches, I’ve found that my old logo wasn’t really cutting it anymore and wanted to come up with a new design with more emphasis on cakes. My friend and fellow wedding pro, Meridith Desmond introduced me to 99designs.com – and I had a blast working on-line with a number of designers to come up with the perfect new logo!
Cherry1st delivery of a cake to a wedding reception on a boat! I was super happy to have Mr. Sweet Element with me on the delivery for this one as he had to literally leap from the dock/stairs to the boat with the cake. All along he thought driving the cake for deliveries was the most stressful part – HA! Luckily, everything went swimingly, and both bride & groom loved their groom’s cake! ;D
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1st wedding where the catering staff ate ALL the extra cake – including the TOP TIER! To add insult to injury, the catering staff also THREW OUT the custom acrylic topper that Mr. Sweet Element had painstakingly hand cut. Fortunately, the catering staff paid for a replacement top tier and topper, so there was a happy ending.
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1st Icing Smiles Cake for a special little girl in Newark, NJ. It was a pleasure to come up with a fun Yo Gabba Gabba design for her. Personally one of my favorite kid’s cakes of 2012!
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1st Open Air Market in downtown NYC at the Fulton Stall Market for the holidays. As the colder months are notoriously more quiet in the world of cakes, I switched gears yet again during the holiday season of 2012 and switched gears to creating artisan chocolates, cookies & other confections. After some thought about how to market those items – I thought that it would be a nice idea to bring a little bit of sweetness down to to the seaport in NYC, which was hit rather terribly by Hurricane Sandy earlier in 2012. Mr. Sweet Element & I braved the cold (& rain!) every Sunday before Christmas in December and got to meet a number of other really awesome vendors, a few tourists and many locals (& their pups!).
Sweet Element Fulton Stall Market

One of my goals for 2012 was to meet other solopreneurs & small business entrepreneurs in the wedding industry, and I’m happy to say that is one goal I definitely accomplished! It’s been nice to be able to grab coffee or lunch with other people in similar shoes in the crazy world of weddings & beyond. I was also lucky enough to be able to personally work with a few of the fabulous wedding pros that I met when Mr. Sweet Element & I celebrated our 11th anniversary in October with a weekend in NYC.  We kicked off the festivities with a super fun photoshoot in the meatpacking district with Meridith Desmond. And if you’re wondering why I look like I have a more flawless face than normal – I had my make-up professionally done for the very first time (yes, EVER – I did my own make up at my wedding!) by the fabulous Sharon Becker of SB Beauty.

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And lastly, here are some of my favorite cakes from this year:

Favorite 2012 Wedding Cake : Lichtenstein Inspired Wedding Cake
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Favorite 2012 Wedding Cake for the Media : Art Nouveau Peacock Wedding Cake
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Favorite 2012 Super Last Minute Cake : G-Shock Birthday Cake
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Favorite 2012 Sculpted Cake : Coca Cola Groom’s Cake
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Favorite 2012 Decorated Cupcakes : Boss & Minion Cupcakes for Bosses’ Day
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Birds of Paradise Wedding Cupcake Tower

Whew … the busy season has officially begun at Sweet Element Cakes!  It looks like it’s going to be a doozy of a summer, and I’m going to do my best to keep up to date here this year!


Last weekend I finally had the opportunity to use this sweet custom cupcake tower designed & built by the ever infamous Mr. Sweet Element.  We delivered this tower to The Casino building in Silas County State Park in Kinnelon, NJ last Saturday.

This birds of paradise themed spiral wedding cupcake tower was designed for a super sweet couple, Daniel & Erik.  These grooms had the unfortunate experience of having their wedding postponed from last summer to this spring because of the hurricane weather we experienced last August, which caused all state parks to close the day before their wedding!  I’m happy to report that they had gorgeous weather for “Wedding Day Take 2” though!

During our initial consultation, I was told that while they definitely wanted a cupcake tower for their wedding, they didn’t want a traditional stacked “wedding-cake-like” tower.  Since I knew they wanted a non-traditional tower and they also wanted to use birds of paradise in the design somehow, I came up with the concept of a tower that would incorporate a vase for the floral arrangement and a set of spiral steps for the cupcakes.

In these shots taken from beneath and the side, you can really appreciate the 3D spiral-ness of the design.

The stunning floral arrangement in the vase of the tower was artistically crafted by Larry from Floral Expressions.  It’s always a pleasure to see another creative mind at work, and when Larry saw that the vase was slightly bigger than he had expected, he instantly thought of filling in the space with branches that perfectly matched the custom stained wood “steps” of the tower!

And lastly, here’s a close up of the cupcakes themselves.  There was a combination of red velvet, devil’s food and vanilla cupcakes, all filled with dark chocolate ganache and frosted with vanilla moussaline buttercream colored to compliment the birds of paradise.

Congrats Daniel & Erik!

Sweet Element’s 2nd Anniversary Open House!

When I found out that the other artists in my building complex were having their annual open house in early May, I thought it would be a great opportunity to open the doors to the Sweet Element studio too to celebrate our 2nd anniversary with friends and neighbors.  It feels like just yesterday that we were celebrating at our grand opening – ah … how time flies when life is sweet!

While I never made it upstairs to do the full studio tour, I did manage to run to the gallery set up on ground level to see some of the artists’ work.  I just adore the little pig heads!

What’s a party without a little S.W.A.G.? 😀

Two piece chocolate boxes with caramel & peanut butter bon bons for the chocoholics.

Individually boxed cupcakes in a variety of flavors were packaged in sweet little boxes with built-in handles for the perfect sweet take-away!

Aerial shot of the cupcake favors (from left to right): red velvet, confetti, pistachio, double chocolate, chocolate peanut butter, and almond!

A few thermal cups with some postcards.

A view from the back of the shop of the S.W.A.G. table and main tasting table!

A glimpse from behind the main tasting table.

We opened up the space by moving this display rack to “hide” a rack of tools and fondant behind.  Putting that backboard on the rack to conceal what’s behind was definitely worthwhile.  From this picture it almost looks like the cakes are just in front of a purple wall!

Pop of purple from a small potted orchid brightened up the main tasting table.

A close up of some peanut butter bon bons.

I thought that the open house would be a great opportunity to have a variety of sweets & art lovers vote on the final logo options.  I was thrilled to see that my favorite was also the crowd favorite by an overwhelming majority – it got over 51% of the votes!  I’ll be debuting the winner soon, right here on the blog – so stay tuned!

This is what happens when Mr. Sweet Element & I plan events. ;D
Here’s a close up of the logo voting box that everyone fed their votes!  No hanging chads with this system … 😀

And lastly, one last photo of me chatting with a few of our visitors (thanks to Susan from Naturally Susan’s for this shot!).  I’ll have to remember to ask one of my many photographer friends to come and document our next event, as I never seem to have shots of me – I’m either behind the mixer or behind the camera apparently!

In Bliss Launch Party at Montclair Art Museum!

Sweet Element was thrilled to be able to be a part of the In Bliss launch party this week at the Montclair Art Museum.  Despite the gloomy weather and rain, we had a great turnout and met many new friends, neighbors and cake fans. 😀

Given his new job’s insane schedule, I was *super* excited to have Mr. Sweet Element as my assistant for the show.

This Lichtenstein inspired cake felt right at home in the museum!  One of my favorite moments of the evening came when I got a sweet compliment on this cake from an art teacher who stopped by our table.

This white on white wedding dress inspired wedding cake contrasted beautifully with the piece of art behind our table.

Mini cupcake samples … (from left to right) chocolate almond, pistachio, chocolate lover, strawberry almond, and peanut butter chocolate.  Crowd favorites were definitely the strawberry almond and peanut butter chocolate! 😀

For the kid in everyone, I always like to have a little confetti cake on hand. Somehow sprinkles just make everything more fun!

March Madness!

It’s been a flurry of activity at Sweet Element this March, but I’ve finally been able to catch a little bit of computer time to share what we’ve been up to here in the land of sweets!

We started the month off with a very tall, very chocolate wedding cake for a wonderful couple who had their wedding at Battery Gardens in lower Manhattan.  Ilona & Allen were having a black & white NYC themed wedding, and loved the concept of having a unique chocolate buttercream cake decorated with a stunning silver NYC skyline, some graphic red fondant hearts and the iconic “I ♥ NY” logo in the center of the cake.  This cake was all red velvet, filled with cream cheese filling, and stood around 27″ tall!

Keeping in the NYC theme, we created this fun Jets jersey groom’s cake for another wedding at ‘Cesca, on the upper west side of Manhattan the following weekend.  The jersey was customized with the groom’s name and the couple’s wedding date in place of the player’s number.  The cake was a rich vanilla cake, filled with dark chocolate ganache, frosted in vanilla buttercream and decorated in a combination of fondant and gum paste decor.


We also created a fun Baby Einstein themed cake for a 1st birthday party in NJ.  This cake was a devil’s food cake, filled and frosted in vanilla buttercream.  The baby blocks on top were decorated rice cereal treats made with white chocolate in lieu of marshmallows in order to get nice edges.  All decor was made of fondant & gum paste.

Next up was prep for the 19th GLBT Expo at the Javits Center in NYC – which involved a LOT of baking: 6000+ mini cupcakes!  I am happy to say that I definitely had help this year in the baking department: BIG thanks to Mr. Sweet Element, fellow pastry chef LP & Remo – our newest intern!  I don’t know how I would have gotten through it all without you!

The GLBT Expo took place on St. Patrick’s Day weekend … which meant that Mr. Sweet Element and I celebrated our 1st date anniversary working the booth!  After last year, we realized that we definitely couldn’t do it alone, so this year we enlisted the help of some fabulous family and friends.  I don’t think I could give a big enough *THANK YOU* to Kim & Susan for all their help!  We were also very happy to share our booth with Nancy Swiezy Events, who created a gorgeous floral display for the table.  If you are ever looking for a fabulous florist or wedding planner – definitely give Nancy a call!

Here are a few snapshots from the show (last two courtesy of my cousin Kim, as most of my photos were STOLEN!***)

Kim, me & Susan all set up and waiting for the crowd to head in on Saturday.  Pistachio, Almond, Red Velvet, Confetti, Coconut & Vegan Chocolate mini cupcake samples, a few display cakes, a gorgeous floral display and little moo cards filled up our table!

Mr. Sweet Element, me & Kim ready to take on the onslaught of tasters!
Mini cupcake closeups and a shot of our back rack filled with boxes of cupcakes and display cakes.

***The weekend was fabulous … until I realized that someone swiped my phone!!! Definitely a downer to a great weekend, but luckily I was able to get a new phone late on Sunday at the AT&T Times Square store, who had reps at the Expo and were extremely helpful.  I’ll definitely be going back there for any phone needs in the future, as I’ve never received better service at any other store.  I thought it was incredibly sweet that the rep who I talked to at the Expo personally called me later that night just to check in to see if I was ok and had everything squared away.

So, new iPhone acquired, but many contacts and photos lost as I hadn’t synced it in a small eternity.  Needless to say I’ve already set up my new one and all my other devices on iCloud with “Find my iPhone/iPad/etc.” installed!

Back from Blog Hiatus!

Hi everyone! I can’t believe it’s been over TWO months since I’ve posted an update here. So are you wondering what has been going on in the land of Sweet Element(s) in the past two months?

Well, let’s see … I had a bunch of last minute wedding cake orders, made a few fun birthday cakes and one very unique groom’s cake, had a cake featured in the Brides White Hot Style Shop in NYC, worked on a few upcoming press projects, had my Modern Love Wedding cake featured in New York Weddings, had *two* peony cakes featured in The Knot’s national winter 2011 issue, interviewed intern candidates, networked with some other fabulous wedding professionals, designed the Sweet Element holiday cards … oh yea … and Mr. Sweet Element & I went on a 2 week ROAD TRIP for our 10th anniversary!

So, as you can see … even though I haven’t posted … it’s not because I haven’t been BUSY!

Here’s a photo montage of many of the cake projects that I’ve worked on over the past few months.  I will definitely be posting additional details on all the projects below and new updates soon!

And here’s a montage of some of my favorite photos from our 10th anniversary road trip!  We drove through NJ, PA, WV, KY, TN, MI, AK, LA, AL, GA, SC, NC, VA, MD, and DE ~ so as you might imagine we spent A LOT of time on the road!  Of course, even while on vacation I still had cake on my mind (and pie apparently, as you can see by the photos below :D). I was lucky enough to get to meet with Minette Rushing & her staff at Custom Cakes in Savannah, GA (and am just realizing I took *no* pictures there – drat!).  I hope that I can build just as awesome a team as hers soon!

Summertime Cupcake Towers

Hello again!  It’s been quite a while since I’ve gotten a chance to get over here to the blog … so as you might imagine, there are a LOT of cakes to update everyone on!  To start out here are a few of the cupcake towers we delivered last month.  I’ll be posting a bunch of wedding cakes soon!

This first cupcake tower was made for a Sex and the City themed bridal shower at the Marina Grand in Staten Island, NY.  The cupcakes were chai cake with cinnamon honey buttercream, devil’s food cake with vanilla buttercream & almond cake with chocolate buttercream.  The top cake was a vanilla cake, filled with raspberry preserves, frosted in vanilla buttercream and decorated in fondant.  This was the first time I was able to use Bella Cupcake Couture cupcake wraps as well, which I think fit into the theme perfectly!


This was my favorite view of the top cake city skyline 😀

Close up of one of the gumpaste lipstick cupcake toppers.

Close up of one of the Cosmopolitan gumpaste toppers.

This next cake & cupcake tower combo was made for a Christening at the Brick House in Wycoff, NJ.  The cupcakes were devil’s food & vanilla frosted in either chocolate or vanilla buttercream and red velvet frosted in cream cheese frosting.  The cake was all vanilla, filled & frosted in vanilla buttercream and decorated in fondant.