Category Archives: Misc. Pastry

Goodbye 2010 … Hello 2011!

Wow. I just realized that an entire month went by – BLOGLESS!  For shame!  As you might imagine, December was a BUSY month – both work-wise & personally.  While I was thrilled to get a large repeat order for holiday corporate gift boxes, it definitely reminded me why I chose to focus on cakes & not a traditional retail bakery. Instead of one or two days of baking (production) & many days of cake decorating (creative outlet), this gift box order had me in cookie & chocolate production mode for two weeks straight & then turned all cake production areas into packaging central, which left me feeling creatively untapped & simply wiped out. It’s amazing how much time & energy it took to package over 500 individual items & then arrange them & package them into individual gift boxes, all while figuring out timing so I could actually have a semi-presentable client consultation space in the midst of it all.  As you’ll see in the pictures below, near the end, production took over my entire office.

Oh, and did I mention that I, in my ultimate stubbornness, refused to hire holiday help?  I don’t know how he did it, but somehow Mr. Sweet Element managed to work his full-time day job and then stay up till the wee hours helping me at the studio for two weeks straight, without killing me (I think the cookie bribes helped.).  Yet again, I don’t know what I’d do without him!

Here’s a quick recap of the month of December for Sweet Element (& me) in photos. Hope you enjoy!

Slowly my office turned into storage for all finished gift box products

That was a consultation table …

Somewhere under there is my desk.

A finished gift box: chocolate brownie cookies, white chocolate peppermint bark, mixed nut, cherry & cocoa nib bark, pistachio cranberry biscotti, apricot almond biscotti, bailey’s mint chip cookies & rocky road.

The final packaging begins …

Last night of the 2010 gift box marathon: Mr. Sweet Element with the complete gift boxes ~ 3 AM

Jay & I at his office holiday party.  A *MUCH* needed break for us.

Florida oranges!  Best OJ ever – straight from the tree to the juicer.  This year, we planned a one week vacation to visit Jay’s parents down in Florida from 12/18-12/25, so there was definitely a tight deadline to meet to get all those gift boxes out! A week of R&R and warmer weather was definitely motivation to work tirelessly for 2 weeks straight.

Jay & his mom on Christmas day, right before we left for the airport.

2010 Blizzard.  Somewhere between our front railing and that tree is our driveway.  I was SOOOO happy we flew back to NJ on 12/25 – narrowly missing all the airport chaos & allowing us to be trapped at home for 2 days before our street was plowed out.

Jay & his lime cheesecake NYE birthday cake

New Year’s Eve cream puffs – a crowd favorite & definitely a great way to close out 2010!

Sweet Element Cakes July Wrap Up

Where oh where did July go?! Apparently, it was far busier than I thought! Luckily, I was able to schedule a short birthday vacation away at Mohegan Sun & a few incredibly awesome birthday lunches & dinners out in NYC, but other than that July was all about cake!

The month started off with a wonderful tasting with the Volunteer Committee at the Montclair Art Musuem, where I had the pleasure of meeting a small group of wonderful women that I hope to work with on a few events soon.

Here’s a shot of some of the cupcakes that the MAM ladies sampled~chocolate devil’s food with espresso buttercream topped with a chocolate covered espresso bean & vanilla bean cake filled with strawberry preserves and topped with fresh strawberry buttercream.

Here are a few of the cakes from this month:

This first cake was won by a Montclair mom in the BaristaKids giveaway back in April.  The lucky winner requested a dark chocolate cake, filled with a dark chocolate ganache, frosted in a vanilla buttercream and decorated in chocolate.  As her daughter is an avid gymnast & fan of the color green, I thought the silhouette of various gymnastics poses would be a perfect design. It was a lovely surprise to find this thank you email waiting for me in my inbox the next day:

Thank you so much for the wonderful cake.  It was a big delicous and a big hit.  Taylor was so excited!

This second cake was made for an adorable 2 year old’s birthday party held at Creative Groove Studio in Hoboken, NJ.  I created the chocolate school bus on the cake in the likeness of a school bus character on one of the birthday boy’s favorite books and added in the first line, “The Wheels on the bus go round & round …” on the side of the cake to tie into the invitation.  This cake was a devil’s food cake filled with raspberry preserves, frosted in vanilla moussaline buttercream and decorated in chocolate.

This third cake was a last-minute order made for a sweet 3 year old’s birthday held at Senorita’s in Bloomfield, NJ.  While I was browsing through a few bridal magazines in Barnes & Noble one morning, I met a local wedding planner, who just so needed a birthday cake for her daughter in just a few days.  Luckily, I was available, and was more than happy to create this princess themed cake to tie into their Princess & the Frog themed party.  This cake was also a devil’s food cake, filled with a milk chocolate ganache, frosted in a lavender tinted vanilla buttercream, and decorated with gumpaste inscription, blossoms & crown.  If you are looking for a local NJ event planner, I can tell you that Without a Hitch definitely puts together a beautiful party!

Of course, as soon as I thought I was going to have an open weekend to catch up on some of the business part of Sweet Element (like this *blog*!), I received a call last Thursday morning from The Knot asking if I could help them out & have TWO wedding cakes for them by this past Monday morning for a segment on predictions for Chelsea Clinton’s wedding this coming weekend.  After receiving the dossier late Thursday afternoon about what was known (in theory) about the event (i.e. event planner, florist, location, style of dress, etc.), I drew up a few sketches of ideas for two styles of cakes and worked with The Knot to whittle the selections to the following two cakes by Friday morning (yes, this left me TWO days to make TWO wedding cakes – EEEEP!):

This first cake was a seven tier cake with three burgundy sugar peonies & gold fondant ribbons.

Here’s a detail shot of one of the sugar peonies. Seriously a labor of love!

The second cake was a slightly more modern wedding cake comprised of four tiers with alternating pearled & flat white pleats.

Here’s a quick shot of the cakes at The Knot’s studio in SoHo along with some of the floral arrangements:

There could be a whole series of blog posts dedicated to these two cakes (if I was crazy enough … wait, I just might be ;D), including some of the following topics:

  • How to source materials for EXTREME last minute orders (Thank you NY Cake!)
  • How to NOT freak out when on a tight time frame (having an awesome husband helps!)
  • How to create sugar peonies without any custom cutters
  • How TIME CONSUMING it is to make gumpaste flowers
  • Learning the importance of delegating – The structure/delivery man CAN paint!
  • When making wedding cakes under duress, REMEMBER to EAT! (Yes, the time is worth it!)
  • When going through TV withdrawl, can be your bestest friend.
  • How to pray to the delivery gods so you will run into NO traffic on a Monday morning delivery to NYC (I owe you a BIG one!)
  • And last but not least, How to say “How High” when media opportunities arise that ask you to “JUMP!” (Big thanks to The Knot for allowing me to take part in this opportunity!)

Be on the look out for these two cakes tomorrow morning on Fox & Friends! It’ll be Sweet Element cakes’ national TV debut! 😀

Caramel …

It was all going so well … dipping profiterole tops in caramel … then double dipping for a nicer coating … then on the very last one …. OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOWWWWWWWWWWWW!!!!!

One bad burn on my right ring finger and one minor burn on my left ring finger, and I consider myself pretty lucky.

Perils of pastry … liquid napalm.

The bright news however is that I didn’t drop the top … and the profiteroles look great … which I so need because they are for an order for this afternoon that I have to deliver in an hour.

But don’t they look good?