Category Archives: Client Photos

Happy 1st Anniversary Chris & Aet!

I know I’m a few days late, but I wanted to wish a very sweet couple, Chris & Aet a very happy 1st anniversary!  I had the pleasure of working with them on their wedding cake last year – a modern buttercream cake wrapped in cherry blossom branches and decorated with love birds.

As many in the wedding industry can attest – even the nicest person can turn a little bridezilla with the stress on their wedding day.  So you can imagine my surprise when I received a personal call from the bride – on the morning of her wedding day, just to confirm that I knew that there was free parking for vendors in the garage across the street from the venue and telling me how to get a voucher, etc.  I don’t know if Aet knows how much it meant that on her big day she took a few minutes to personally reach out to her vendors – but I was extremely touched.  How sweet is that?!  Aet, all of us in the wedding industry wish all of our brides were a little more like you!

A few weeks later, in this day of all things digital, it was a welcome surprise to receive a handwritten thank you card from the happy newlyweds along with a few photos, including the one above, of them cutting the cake.

Here’s to many, many more sweet years together! 😀

Happy New Year!

The first of anything is always a little daunting, don’t you think?  It’s taken me a few days to figure out how I wanted to start off this year on the blog, and I finally thought that I couldn’t think of a more fitting first post for 2012 than a little look back through our favorite 2011 moments in cake!

On the media side, last year started out with a bang as I discovered that Sweet Element had been chosen as a 2011 Pick for The Knot’s Best of Weddings!  I was also thrilled to have two cakes featured in Brides Magazine in 2011 and participate in two Brides events as well: one with Lord & Taylor and the Brides White Hot Style Shop! (belated post to come very soon on the Brides White Hot Style Shop!)  Sweet Element was also fortunate enough to be featured in Get Married Magazine, The Knot, and New York Weddings as well as a number of blogs.

The most popular blog post *by far* last year was an educational post that I wrote about why sculpted cakes are so expensive. My initial thought process behind the post was to educate clients on what goes into making 3D cakes, but I think I struck a chord with many other cake designers who feel the same frustration every time a client asks for a sculpted cake at a ridiculously low price. While I’m not big into how-to tutorials, I definitely think that there is a need for more posts “behind the scenes” in the world of real cake (and not overly dramatized for TV cake) – so I’ll be working on some more for 2012!

While we scaled back on the number of events we participated in overall, we went BIG with Sweet Element’s participation in the GLBT Expo at the Javitz Center in NYC, which was our first experience with a huge show and was definitely a highlight of the year for us.  Not only did we get to hand out over 6,000 samples in two days and meet a slew of great people, we also met some totally awesome guys, who I’m happy to say have turned into very dear friends, Shawn & Doug.  A few months later, when NYC legalized same-sex marriage, they asked me to make their wedding cake!


And since it seems like everyone is always curious to know what my personal favorite cakes are …. here are my picks for 2011!

Favorite 2011 Wedding Cake for the Media


Favorite 2011 Groom’s Cake

Favorite 2011 Special Occasion/Birthday Cake

Favorite 2011 Real Wedding Cake (Traditional)

Favorite 2011 Wedding Cake (Non-Traditional)

This last cake has extra special meaning for me, as the clients who I made it for loved it so much that they made their topper into their first holiday card! I was beyond touched when I received the card below last month.  Believe it or not, it’s the smallest little things like this that make all the late nights, cake conundrums, and all the incredibly difficult work worth every minute.


I look forward to another year of fun, fabulous and festive cakes in 2012!

Resurfacing!

Hrm, I could say that I was taking a 33 day blog hiatus to reflect on the last bit of my 33rd year, but the truth is that I haven’t been able to get much time to blog, catch up on twitter or tend to my website as much as I wanted in the past month!  When you’re running a one-woman cake shop and have a slew of unexpected last-minute orders on top of a relatively full calendar, kitchen activities & deliveries take over everything else.  Fingers are crossed that I’ll be able to find an intern or two to help out in the Sweet Element kitchen SOON!

So, before the onslaught of July orders pulls me into the kitchen again, I thought I would share just a few of my favorite June cakes.

This first cake was one of the most unique wedding cakes we’ve made.  The bride & groom wanted to recreate their proposal story with their wedding cake, changing just a few details to make it special for their wedding day.


I love this inspiration photo that shows the pumpkin proposal that the groom arranged to be seen from the top of a mountain hike with his bride-to-be!

Here’s a close-up of the sugar bride and groom that were sitting atop the mountain of cake!  I adore the mini wire-rim glasses on the groom.

The bride also secretly ordered a NYC subway map groom’s cake as a surprise for the groom.  I couldn’t think of a better way to showcase both city & country than with these two cakes!

The mountain & barn cakes were comprised of red velvet cake, filled with cream cheese frosting, frosted in vanilla buttercream and decorated in a combination of fondant, modeling chocolate & gumpaste.  The subway cake was a devil’s food cake, filled with peanut butter mousse, frosted in vanilla buttercream and decorated in fondant.  Both cakes were delivered to the beautiful Round Hill House in Washingtonville, NY.

This next offset square wedding cake for a wedding in Edison, NJ was a fun challenge to take on, especially as our first gig with Pure Ambiance Events!  The bottom three tiers were banana cake, filled with peanut butter mousse & milk chocolate ganache and the top tier was vanilla cake filled with milk chocolate ganache.  All tiers were frosted in vanilla buttercream and decorated in fondant.  The manzanita branches were made of modeling chocolate and the orchids and delphiniums were handmade of gumpaste.

You might be able to tell where much of the cake inspiration came from by taking a peek at the beautiful room set-up by the Pure Ambiance team below!


This next wedding cake is a perfect example of how beautiful a cake with real flowers can be ~ great for the bride on a budget!  The cake was comprised of red velvet cake, filled with cream cheese frosting, frosted in vanilla buttercream and decorated in fondant with satin ribbon and fresh orchids.  We delivered this tropical cake to the stunning Le Club Avenue in Long Branch, NJ.  I really just wanted to go and hang out at the beach after setting this up ~ but alas, there were other orders waiting to be finished back at the studio!

This groom’s cake that we delivered to The Madison Hotel in Morristown, NJ, is definitely one of my most favorite cakes of June.  A last minute order, I was so happy I was able to fit this order into the books!  The bride had seen a photo online with Lego stormtroopers hoisting up a Lego Darth Vader into a pint of Guinness (concept originally from Kevin Pulton) and wanted that recreated into cake.  Keeping in the Guinness theme, the cake was our Guinness Chocolate Cake, filled and frosted with Guinness buttercream and decorated in fondant.  As this was a *very* last minute order, I had to make certain inner structures of the Lego guys from foam as all gum paste bodies would not have time to dry, but all the exterior portions are made from modeling chocolate, gum paste & fondant.

Here’s a side-view shot of the lil’ Lego guys 🙂

It’s unusual that I actually get to see my clients’ reactions at weddings as I usually set up before they get into the room, but in this particular case, when the bride slipped and mentioned that there was a surprise groom’s cake waiting in the ballroom, the groom just HAD to see the cake before the reception!  It was definitely a pleasure to grab this quick picture of very happy bride & groom with their pints of Guinness & their Guinness cake!

And last but not least, we made this chocolate plate Chicago Blackhawks birthday cake as a surprise for a huge Blackhawks fan in Hoboken, NJ.  The cake was devil’s food cake, filled with banana cream filling and frosted in vanilla buttercream.  The top decoration was all chocolate and the inscription was in fondant.


I always wonder how surprise clients react to their cakes, so as you might imagine, I love getting emails from clients with photos of happy cake recipients ~ especially when the cakes are a surprise!

Well, that wraps it up for now …  it’s back to the kitchen to get started on some very fun cakes for July!  Hopefully I’ll be able to get to blog more often this month 😀

Cute Cthulhu Birthday Cake

As you might have noticed, I enjoy making unusual cakes – and this one, for @Snipeyhead was definitely one of my new favorites!  The only requests for this latest Sweet Element cake was that it be red velvet & Cthulhu-themed.  So, with full artistic interpretation, I decided to take this monster cake to the cute side, and ended up with what I called Cute-ulhu (Cthulhu’s baby sister)!

For added excitement, we had the joy of delivering this cake from the studio into Stitch Bar in Manhattan during the last blizzard.  Thankfully, everything was safe & sound once we got there!

Cute-ulhu

Birthday Girl digging into Cute-ulhu

Louis Vuitton Birthday/Anniversary Cake

It’s been a busy month here at the Sweet Element cake studio … which hasn’t left much time for blogging!  Luckily, I’ve managed to find a little quiet time this weekend, so I thought I would share one of the latest cakes that we delivered last weekend to McLoone’s Rum Runner in Sea Bright, NJ.

This cake was a combination 50th birthday & 25th anniversary cake that both daughter & husband worked on in secret as a surprise for one very lucky lady!  The clients wanted to incorporate some of mom’s favorite things – Louis Vuitton luggage, some Chanel makeup and Stuart Weitzman shoes.  I believe mom also received a real diamond ring as an anniversary gift, so I also included a “faux” sugar ring on the very top of the cake as well.

The cake was comprised of a variety of flavors:

The trunk was 1/2 chocolate devil’s food cake filled with chocolate buttercream and 1/2 red velvet filled with cream cheese frosting, and the entire thing was frosted in vanilla buttercream and decorated in fondant.


The luggage atop the trunk & the small makeup bag were coconut cakes, filled & frosted with vanilla  buttercream, and decorated in fondant.

The shoebox & ring box were both chocolate devil’s food cake filled with chocolate buttercream, frosted in vanilla buttercream and decorated in fondant & gumpaste.

Best of all, a few days after the party, I received emails & a few photos from both daughter & husband to let me know how much Debbie loved her cake!

I just wanted to thank you for the beautiful cake on Saturday. It was a huge hit at the party and most of all my mother loved it! She didn’t even want to cut it because it came out so good! People were absolutely raving about out real it looked and how delicious it tasted.
– Deanna

Just wanted to let you know that the cake looked fantastic and was delicious as well.  My wife Debbie and all the guests totally enjoyed it!
– Tony

A Day in the Life of a Cake

After reading about the Threadcakes contest (which I *will* be entering this year!), and the contest rules about taking multiple pictures of the cake making process, I thought it would be a great idea to start taking more “in-progress” photos of Sweet Element cakes to show how cakes are made.  I know some people may think that it’s a crazy “secret-giving-away” thing to do, but I don’t think that there are any “secrets” to keep.  Cake designing, making & decorating is usually a lot of fun and definitely a lot of WORK.  Like with any other artistic endeavor, it’s a process that requires constant learning, which sometimes involves mistakes, and many times involves reworking and problem solving on the fly.

This first “tell-all” cake was made for a the graduation party of a friend, who as you might guess is a huge Linux fan.  A few years ago I surprised him with a 2D Linux cake for his birthday, and I figured he would definitely love a 3D Tux cake now that my decorating skills have progressed just a lil’ 😉

This first photo shows the stacked & buttercreamed “base-cake”, which was comprised of three individual cakes that were alternating layers of yellow & devil’s food cake filled and frosted with vanilla moussaline buttercream.  Next time I’ll have to remember to take a picture of the three individual cakes prior to stacking & carving, to give you a better idea of the whole process!

Once I had the basic structure assembled, I took a look at some reference materials I had on Tux and decided he needed a little fattening up & also a tail, so I took some white modeling chocolate, sculpted a penguin “beer-belly” & tail and added them to the base cake.

Once the more rotund Tux was well chilled, I gave him a black fondant shell, white fondant belly, fondant eyes, and added some black modeling chocolate arms.  The first beak shown here was made of rice crispy treats that was covered in fondant.

Well, as you can see, that first beak just didn’t work out. With the insane humidity lately, I wasn’t confident that the lil’ guy would keep that beak on from my studio to the party in Manhattan, so I opted for a little reconstructive surgery & a foam beak, which was much lighter & made me feel a lot less nervous about a delivery disaster.

Ok, so I skipped a *lot* of other photo ops, but I was trying to get this guy done quickly so I could get him back in the fridge to chill for delivery.  His beak & feet are foam covered in a mix of modeling chocolate & fondant.

Here’s good ol’ Tux hanging out for the day in Jay’s Madison Ave. office 🙂

And here he is after a grueling 4 block walk over to Butterfield 8, where he hung out at a table right by the front window.  It was so humid, that the gumpaste mortarboard I had fully dried out was a little wilty as soon as I put it on (at this point I was REALLY happy I opted to change out his original beak!).  The original tassels didn’t survive the trip, but I had brought some black modeling chocolate with me and made a new one right there in the bar.

The happy grad & his Tux cake, complete with mortarboard & tassels.

Tux at happy hour with the rest of us having a Stella & some bacon covered scallops 😀

As cute as he was, Tux was there to be eaten! I thought it would be fitting for Larry to be given the head since it was his party & all.

And here he is digging in! It’s always nice to hear people compliment the flavor of the actual cake, which happened a number of times at this party. My favorite compliment was from someone who came up to me and admitted that they normally don’t even like cake – but they had multiple slices of lil’ ol Tux because he was so tasty!


Piano Keyboard Birthday Cake

Whew. I can’t believe how much time has flown by since that last blog post!  When you’re a one-woman shop (with the much needed help of a crafty carpenter/delivery man/dishwasher extraordinaire husband when he’s NOT working his full time job), there’s a LOT on your plate!  I’ll have to make it a point to check in here at least once a week!

But enough with the excuses … 😉

Here’s one of the latest Sweet Element CAKES! I received a request to construct a piano keyboard cake for a small birthday party of 10 at the Palisade’s Mall Lucky Strike in West Nyack, NY last weekend and came up with this lil’ piece.  The cake is constructed of yellow cake, filled & frosted with chocolate hazelnut buttercream and decorated in fondant.  And just in case you were wondering, all 88 keys were individually cut out and applied!

And some pictures of the birthday boy enjoying his cake 🙂


Tiki Cake

One of my favorite Sweet Element cakes from a *very* busy cake week last week (more posts with our other cakes to come!) was this Tiki cake I made for my aunt Julie’s retirement party that we delivered all the way up to the Manchester Country Club in Manchester, CT.  After 35 years of teaching, Julie is finally stepping out of the classroom this June.  Her only request to the party planners was that the party be Luau themed, so I thought a gigantic Tiki drink cake would be the perfect cake for the event!

This cake was a chocolate devil’s food cake filled with peanut butter buttercream and frosted in vanilla moussaline buttercream.  The decorations were a combination of modeling chocolate, fondant & gumpaste.  The only inedible things on this cake were the straw (giant emptied Pixi stick ~ yes, I saved the grape Pixi dust!) & the umbrella.  I owe a GIANT thanks to the ever crafty Jay for building that AWESOME pink drink umbrella from scratch!!!!


Car Birthday Cake

It was only a matter of time before our first car cake request came in, and we were thrilled to make one for Trevor’s 2nd birthday!  The birthday boy’s only request was that it be a blue car with yellow highlights, so we based the cake on a Ford Mustang and embellished it with a few things to make it truly Trevor’s: a yellow 2 for his 2nd birthday on the door, the Boston Red Sox rear window decal, and of course, the license plate!

The cake was a chocolate chocolate chip cake, filled & frosted with vanilla moussaline buttercream.  The car was decorated with a combination of fondant, gumpaste & modeling chocolate.  To cover the board, we used a little oreo “dirt”.





A close up of the grill & the mini mustang (one of my favorite design elements)

The birthday boy & his cousins digging into the cake. Trevor was getting upset because he didn’t understand that the car was a cake & not a toy, so he was thrilled when he could finally get to it!

The birthday boy enjoying a giant modeling chocolate tire!

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 😀