Tag Archives: Special Occasion Cake

A Steampunk Valentine


Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!  I’ve been wanting to create a steampunk cake for quite some time now, and I finally got a chance to with this mini heart steampunk Valentine’s day cake.  The cake is a chocoholic’s dream: devil’s food cake, filled and frosted with chocolate buttercream.  The board is covered in a distressed wood finish fondant and the cake is decorated with fondant & gum paste decor.

This was a very mini-project, as you can see in the in-progress and detail shots below.

Here are a few detail shots of the gears, screws, and other metallic accessories.

This might have been my favorite part of this cake – the heart in the keyhole.  The mini heart is a little less than  1/4 the size of a penny.

Detail shot of the gum paste skeleton key & feather.


Just to give you an idea of scale, here’s the base cake with my favorite Sharpie marker.  Very miniature in comparison to most Sweet Element cakes!

And lastly, just because I think buttercream frosted cakes are simply pretty on their own, here’s the cake simply frosted in chocolate buttercream, before it got steampunked.

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!!!!


TECCS First Year Celebration Cake

A few weeks ago, Sweet Element was fortunate enough to be able to participate in The Ethical Community Charter School’s First Year celebration in Jersey City, NJ.  We donated a large celebration cake & also mini cupcakes for all the students.  The cake was a combination of chocolate & yellow cake filled with vanilla moussaline buttercream and decorated in fondant & chocolate.  The words around the sides of the tiers: Ethics, Service, Community, Social Justice, Academics & Exploration represented the varied parts of the school’s mission.

We wish the school & all the families continued success & growth in the future!



As a very welcome surprise, I received a number of thank you cards from the students & teachers last week for the cake & cupcakes.  Here are a few of my favorites.

A huge card from one of the classes:


Pop-up cards!


And the one that peaked my interest the most.

I secretly wonder if the cake was just “ok” because the kids only got to eat the cupcakes, because the cake & frosting for both were the same!  Hrm …

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!

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.




Octoberfest Beer Stein Cake

Happy Octoberfest!  Here’s the latest Sweet Element cake that was made for a Octoberfest themed birthday party in Montclair this weekend.  Inside the stein was a black forest cake (chocolate cake, kirsch infused cherries & chocolate buttercream) and whipped cream topped the cake to make the “foam”. The pretzels were made of modeling chocolate & topped with salt.

Beer Stein Cake
Host & Hostess (& Birthday Girl!) hiding behind the giant beer!

Patricia’s Yarns 5th Birthday Cake

5 Year Sign

Last weekend I had the pleasure of making a cake for Patricia’s Yarns who was celebrating their 5th year in Hoboken, NJ. As creative license was left up to me, I thought it would be a sweet design for this Hoboken yarn shop to have a messenger bag with 5 skeins of yarn spilling out.  Patricia had requested that her logo be incorporated, so I made it fairly prominent on the bag as the label.  There were also three “5’s” incorporated into the yarn – can you spot them all?

This cake was comprised of a chocolate devil’s food cake filled & frosted with vanilla moussaline buttercream and decorated in fondant.  The yarn skeins were made of rice crispy treats frosted in vannilla moussaline buttercream and decorated in fondant.  The needles were the only inedible piece to this cake, and were made out of sharpened painted dowels with gumpaste toppers.

Patricia's Yarn Cake

If you’re a knitter & ever find yourself in Hoboken – you should definitely check out Patricia’s shop!  I spent about an hour browsing through her vast selection of yarn and left with two giant bags full of yarn for 2 scarves & a winter blanket.  Patricia was also kind enough to give me a swift [which I totally love 😀 ] as a thank you!

Here are some additional detail shots of the cake …

Purple Yarn
Yellow Yarn
Jen and Patricia with cake

Guinness Cake

I always thought that I’d be making a pint of Guinness cake as a grooms cake, but our friends’ Irish pub birthday party this past Saturday presented the perfect occasion to create this cake. If you ever find yourself in Hoboken, NJ – go visit Carpe Diem for perfect pints & excellent pub food!

Since the pub’s true birthday is 7/15, I included 15 clovers on the board, three of which were gold four leaf clovers, as the pub was celebrating it’s 3rd birthday.

The cake consisted of alternating layers of devil’s food cake & yellow butter cake that was filled and frosted with Bailey’s Irish Cream buttercream. A combination of chocolate & vanilla fondant was used to decorate the exterior of the cake.

Guinness Cake

Guinness Cake Top
I thought the guys would enjoy the little clover in the foam detail on the top 🙂

Billy & Joe with Guinness Cake
Joe & Billy in Carpe Diem’s dining room with the cake!