Category Archives: Chocolate

Rami Kashou Bridal Line Launch at bebe

I was thrilled when Sweet Element was offered the opportunity to participate in the Vow to Wow launch party for Rami Kashou‘s new bridal line for bebe last month at bebe’s SoHo location in NYC,  as I have been a fan of Rami’s work ever since his first stint on Project Runway.

The cake above was inspired by this layered silk tafetta wedding gown.

So why the delay in posting you may be asking?  Well … it’s taken me a little while to get over the unexpected drama that completely threw me for a loop! (There’s a hint in bottom of the photo above of me & Rami.)

Everything started out well, and I set up my table above with chocolates, a few display cakes inspired by Rami’s new gowns, my portfolio and some business cards.  Initially I thought that this would be an invitation only event, but I was surprised to see that bebe kept it’s doors open to all shoppers.  As you might imagine, when you’re giving out free chocolate – it goes quickly!  Within twenty minutes, all 100 pieces of chocolate were gone and I had one of the corporate marketing folks from bebe come over and ask if I had any more chocolate or any other food, as I couldn’t have an empty table.  I explained that her staff had specifically ordered just 100 bon bons, but I did bring two sheet cakes that were supposed to be cut and served by their catering staff.  After grumbling that she was going to have words with her staff, she then disappeared to find the sheet cakes that I had left in the kitchen for the catering staff.

Half an hour later, the corporate marketing person was still missing, and I was left wondering what was happening with these two sheet cakes, as I didn’t see any catering staff.  At that point, one of the security people from bebe came over, and seeing my quizzical expression, explained that there were no plates or utensils for the sheet cakes, and they were sending someone to Duane Reade (a local pharmacy) to get something to serve the cake with.  With the event nearly half over, as it was only two hours in duration, I was seriously wondering if these cakes would even get served.

Oh, but then *I* got served.  I was mortified when the staff brought up both sheet cakes, which were supposed to be cut and plated in a back kitchen and NEVER meant to be placed on my white linen table!  If that wasn’t bad enough, the staff thought it was helpful to precut the cakes in a very odd fashion, and not supply me with anything to serve it with … so I ended up using two forks (or spoons!) to serve up the odd shaped pieces of cake, while suppressing tears.  Where was the catering staff I was promised?!  If I had known there was no catering staff I never would have made sheet cakes (which by the way, the corporate staff specifically asked for), and would definitely have opted for mini cupcakes as I usually do for these types of events.

Here’s a photo of the cake horror that I took with my cell phone.  That’s devil’s food cake with nutella buttercream on the left and red velvet with cream cheese frosting on the right.  And yes, those are paper BOWLS that the staff ran out to get.

And as if that wasn’t bad enough … the staff only ran to get 30 or so bowls and 48 forks, so within ten minutes, I was offering people cake on napkins sans utensils as that’s all I had.

I honestly think I might have just packed up if Mr. Sweet Element hadn’t shown up as moral support during this disaster.  It was a small consolation to see the corporate marketing person felt terrible and came over to apologize for the mix up, as she saw how mortified I looked when they dropped those two very NOT for presentation cakes on my table for me to serve.

So … lesson learned … I will now ALWAYS quadruple check with any event planners to ensure that everything promised – like a catering staff with PLATES & FORKS will actually be there!

Here’s a shot of Rami with the bebe staff.  And yes, that’s me at my table in the back right corner, posting the cake horror on twitter.

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!

Sweet Element Holiday Pop-Up Shop in SoHo!

We’re switching gears from cakes to chocolates & cookies for our pop-up shop in SoHo this Saturday, December 10th at Ruia NYC (65 Mercer St.) from 12pm-6pm!

As with all of our Sweet Element cakes, we believe that you should be able to try before you buy, so we’ll have free samples of chocolate bark, rocky road and a variety of cookies out for you to taste!


We will also be joined by these fabulous vendors selling excellent gifts for the holidays including: unique children’s clothing & accessories, hand-sculpted porcelain, natural & organic skin care, healthy chocolates & handmade jewelry.

I hope to see you there in support of small & *local* businesses!




M.B. Jewelry

NY Sports 50th Birthday & Christening Cakes

Here’s a few shots of the latest Sweet Element cakes that were made for a dual christening & 50th birthday party at La Prete’s in Belleville, NJ this past Sunday.  The initial request for the first 50th birthday cake was to incorporate the NY Knicks, Giants & Yankees with a beach theme, which inspired the design below.  The cakes inside the basketball & football were made up of chocolate cake, filled with peanut butter mousse & frosted in chocolate buttercream, and the baseball was made of rice krispy treats frosted in chocolate buttercream.  All the balls were decorated in fondant.  To incorporate the beach theme, we decorated the board in one of my favorite things – cookie sand!

The christening cake was based off the invitation to the party & was made up of yellow cake, filled with whipped cream, peaches & strawberries and frosted in vanilla buttercream.  The decorative plate & polka dots on the side are all chocolate.




Chocolate Wedding Favors – to Houston TX!

This time last week, I was in a plane, on our descent into Houston, TX!  Jay & I were lucky enough to be able to attend Mike & Vickie’s wedding, which was a beautiful event at the Alden Hotel in downtown Houston.  While I was honored that they asked me to make their chocolate favors for them, I could never have imagined what it would take to get 400+ pieces of chocolate (peanut butter & caramel if you were wondering) 1,622 miles from northern NJ to Houston, TX!  I’ve learned that shipping chocolate safely to warmer climates is supremely expensive, but if packed correctly, they definitely hold up well.  However, since I couldn’t think of a safe way to ship the favors assembled, we had a bit of work to do when we got to our hotel room last Friday night, folding favor boxes and repacking the chocolates from their shipping boxes to the favor boxes.  But when you love what you do (which I do!), all that extra work doesn’t even seem like work when you get that finished product together & see how happy it makes your clients!

Here are some of the photos of this latest Sweet Element chocolate favor adventure & the lovely bride & groom! Congrats Vickie & Mike!

Here’s the 43+ lb behemoth package that we mailed via Fed Ex.  There’s a standard sized 750 ml Grey Goose bottle next to the box for scale.

Assembling chocolate boxes #1

Assembling chocolate boxes #2

Assembling chocolate boxes #3

Close-up shot of some of the chocolates.

Close-up of the favor bow box-tops.

160 chocolate favor boxes all ready to head to the wedding!

If you look closely, you can see the favor boxes to the right & left under the flower arrangement.

Awwww….

I know it’s a little blurry, but I still love this photo. It was a gorgeous roof-top wedding!

The happy couple enjoying some champagne during the toasts 😀

Goodbye 2009 …

New Year’s Eve is always an extra special celebration in our house, since it’s also my husband Jay’s birthday.  This year he requested a chocolate “coffee” cake.  So without further adieu, here is Jay’s birthday cake, which also happened to be the last Sweet Element cake of 2009!

The coffee cup cake was a chocolate devil’s food cake, filled and frosted with an espresso italian meringue buttercream and decorated in fondant.  The doughnut & napkin were sculpted out of fondant. The cake “board” was a piece of counter top to go with the whole coffee/diner theme!



For those of you wondering, the chocolate lil’ devil creature was a last minute surprise.  He’s the FreeBSD mascot, and a favorite of Jay’s, always a tech guy at heart & a FreeBSD fan.

Chocolate Box Cake

Here’s a few shots of Sweet Element’s latest cake that was raffled off at a charity event last weekend.  Since our focus is on both cake & chocolate, I thought it would be a nice idea to combine the two mediums in a “chocolate box” cake.  And while I appreciate the simple chocolate sheen of well tempered bon-bons, I thought painting the chocolates as jewels with a little bit of luster dust would add a bit of elegance to this cake.  As a final touch, three gumpaste roses were added as adornment.

This cake was red velvet filled & frosted with vanilla moussaline buttercream and covered in fondant.  The dark chocolate bon bons were a combination of peanut butter & peanut butter caramels.

Congrats to the winner!

Forest Animals Baby Block Cake

This past weekend I had the pleasure of making the baby shower cake & biscotti favors for one of my best friends in CT.  Another loooong delivery from NJ, but definitely worth it!  The theme of the baby’s new room is forest animals & mom to be liked the baby block cake concept, so we decided on a forest animal baby block cake.  The cake was red velvet, filled & frosted with vanilla moussaline buttercream.  The little owl (my favorite part of the cake), was made of rice crispy treats & decorated in fondant.  All block decor was in chocolate.




Chocolate Update

While I was finishing the holiday chocolates I was inspired to make a crunchy peanut butter ganache layered with caramel in a dark chocolate shell. DELICIOUS. I am tempted to keep them all to myself, but as it’s Christmas, I am giving them to some very special people. If I can remember I’ll cut one sacrificial one later and take a cross-section photo to post here. I also made some smoked almond caramels which I have yet to try … but Jay has already claimed some for himself 🙂 I’m thinking my family and friends more inclined to like savory items will like those a lot.

All holiday chocolates are now made. *GIANT SIGH OF RELIEF*

All chocolate and gifts that need to go with us to Toms River today has been packaged up. That means that I have to shower and jump in the car to get coffee, knit and head on down for Christmas gathering #1 with Jay and family. At least it’s a relaxing event. I need some relaxing about now. And I am going to try VERY hard not to think of all the work I need to do packaging up food gifts for my family when I return home tonight.

Woof.

dogs“Pre-Packaged Dogs”

bagged_dog“Dog in a Bag”

It feels like I was making these chocolate dogs with my partner – in – pastry – crime AGES ago, but in fact it was just a week ago that I was being a total spaz about a packaging disaster that left me running around NJ & NYC looking for replacement packaging for 145 dogs.I knew things were going just a little too well. I wouldn’t have been able to make these little boys so easily without Lisa – so THANK YOU!!! Twas a long one night project to individually hand make EACH dog one at a time. Yes, I know I repeated myself in that last sentence, but believe you me … it was laborious. Even with the control freak that I am having the almond ears pre-matched out for each dog, and my amazingly cold hands being able to roll out the little ganache bodies without much if any meltage, there were some difficulties in the process that got worked out … by the time we were on the last of four trays of these puppies. All in all though, production went amazingly well. The next day we did finishing touches with the piping of the white stripes and the eyes and nose and breezed through that so quickly I was all looking forward to a few drinks out.

Cue scary music … *Dum Dum DUM!!!!* As I started packaging the finished dogs, Lisa opened the remaining three boxes of containers … to find them … EMPTY. So here we are:

*It’s Sunday night and I am calmly, quietly FREAKING OUT
*The favors needed to be delivered on Tuesday morning
*I had idiotically given the bride a sample container and she loved it
*The containers were specially ordered from a company in CA
*When I looked up the containers they were BACKORDERED UNTIL JANUARY 2007
*The dogs had to be packaged so they would be protected and stand upright
*Every store is closed as it is 9 PM
*I have ONE DAY to find enough packaging for 145 chocolate dogs

So, unable to do squat, we ended up going out drinking anyways to our old landlords’ new bar in Hoboken, Carpe Diem with Jay & Jeff. A few vodka and sodas in and I started feeling the packaging panic.

In short – Monday went a little like this:

*I decided NOT to deal with the packaging f*ucknut until I was calmer
*Our internet & landline connections were all screwy in the morning because we were having a new line run and I was trying to communicate with the bride-to-be and SO didn’t need that
*Ate some fortifying oatmeal (so needed it too)
*Had NOT ENOUGH coffee
*Went to the following stores to try to find packaging:
NJ Contenders for Packaging
-A.C. Moore (bought tiny bags that didn’t work)
-Party America (nada)
-Party City (more nada)
-Hallmark (still nada)
-Staples (got tape to seal the bags that was crap and didn’t stick)
-The Container Store (had gusseted bags that I thought would work – but     they were SOOOO expensive so I opted not to buy them)
-Michael’s (back to nothing)
-Chef Central (did buy two cool coffee cups – but NO packaging options)

NYC Contenders for Packaging
-Hallmark #1 in Port Authority (zippo)
-Hallmark #2 in Port Authority (ditto zippo)
-Sweet Factory (nothing, nothing, nothing)
-National Wholesale Liquidators (amazingly nothing)
-Pearl River Mart (had cool clear chinese plastic takeout containers – but     not 150)
-Pearl Paint (main location) (hard for me to not get distracted here)
-Pearl Paint Craft Store (see above comment)
-Pearl Plastics (dirty and nothing)
-Pearl Rubbers (wasn’t even open)
-Broadway Panhandler (smaller store now in it’s new location which I           really don’t like – had nothing)
Evil NY Cake – the store reeked of pee, and I was the very last customer     there before they closed, but they had the bags, and I bought two sizes         just to cover my ass since they had the bags displayed where I couldn’t         see the bottoms very well as that was what was taped to a board.

Upon arrival home, I tried out the bags from NY Cake and I was freaking and disappointed because they weren’t my cool plastic cylinders that I wanted to use, so I went BACK to A.C. Moore to buy some more bags and hard plastic sheets that I was going to use as a base and after all that ended up using the bags from NY Cake. In the end, they all got bagged and not sealed (the bride to be had ribbons and tags for them she wanted to attach) and they were delivered safely into my office, I got paid, the bride to be was thrilled, and I felt like a GIANT weight had been lifted off my shoulders once it was over.

I think a more giant thank you is deserved for dealing with me as I was totally freaking on Monday with the packaging madness, so huge thank yous go out to Lisa, Jay, Lisa’s mom, Lisa’s alleged brother, & Kenny for thinking of and looking up places where I might find packaging and calming me down.

dogrow“Pretty Dogs All in a Row” – safely packaged on no-skid and with a buffer of tissue between each row so their faces would be protected.

gnome_dogs“The Travelling Gnome Blessing the Dogs for Safe Travel”