Tag Archives: Sweet Element Cakes

Just a typical week in January …

newday

Words to remember …

This time of year is always a little bit challenging for me, as it’s a notoriously quiet season for cakes. As a business owner, I’d be lying through my teeth if I told you I was throughly enjoying the break from the studio, because even though there’s little coming in – there are still bills to pay! Fortunately, very similarly to many of my friends who are teachers and have to budget for summers without paychecks, I’ve learned how to budget for a few quiet winter months before things start picking up in the spring. And since time is incredibly valuable, now is the perfect time to 1) finally catch up on all the non-kitchen tasks that involve a lot of paperwork and computer time, 2) make a few coffee dates to catch up with other cake making friends & wedding professionals, 3) work on a few designs from my own idea sketchbook, and 4) fill the “inspiration-well” by taking in many other forms of art. And so, that’s exactly what I found myself doing for the first full week of January.

Here’s a few of the highlights from the week of January 6th:

chai_TeaI had a number of coffee dates this week with fellow entrepreneurs in the wedding industry – including a very long coffee date with two other fabulous NJ cake designers. It’s always interesting to chat with people in the industry, as each of us comes to our craft from different backgrounds. During our conversation, I realized that my strength as a cake designer comes from art & design first. Creating unique and modern designs, as well as realistic 3D cakes is definitely my passion. It’s a tricky balance between keeping one’s artistic integrity and making the all-mighty $. Even though a lot of people would consider it “easy money” to replicate designs, I never like replicating other designers’ or even my own work! It seems like the ever-present challenge for me over the past few years has been figuring out ways to translate über-expensive designs into more budget-friendly designs without losing the overall aesthetic.

Adding emphasis to how important the design process is in my cake creation, I was totally surprised to discover during our cake chat that it’s not a mandatory step for my fellow cake designers to create cake sketches. Almost every cake I create (with the exception of 3D cake replicas of objects), is sketched first – and in many cases – revised a few times too! I think a future post on my design process is definitely in store for this year …

theknotbook_sweetelementcakeOne *big* highlight to my week was finding one of my wedding cakes in the 2012 edition of The Knot’s Complete Guide to Weddings book!

sneak_peekOf course, I couldn’t stay completely away from the studio! I started out 2013 with a cake design for the upcoming spring/summer issue of NY Weddings. The photo above shows an in-process photo of a zillion little hand-cut gum paste pieces and a sneak-peek of the finished cake in the bottom right hand corner.

moma_jan2013Mr. Sweet Element & I also had a chance to enjoy our favorite city after the cake delivery to NY Weddings last Wednesday, which meant a long overdue trip to MoMA and a fabulous re-do birthday dinner for Mr. Sweet Element at Empellon. If you’re ever looking for insanely good Mexican – look no further than this gem in the West Village.

2013_01_11_nycwalkAlso in the “filling of my inspiration-well” – I finally got to watch The Black Swan (loved), almost finished Molly Wizenberg’s “A Homemade Life” (highly recommended), and got to snap some photographs in NYC on Friday before I met up with a few friends. While I live in the land of instagram & cell-phone photos 90% of the time, I am on a mission this year to improve my photography skills with my “real” camera. I think it’s sad that so many people have DSLR cameras and only shoot in the automatic setting! The pics in the collage above will give you a glimpse into what caught my eye during a 3 mile morning walk from midtown to the west village.

Stacked Books Birthday Cake

I had the pleasure of working with Encore Catering on this stacked books cake for a very special 60th birthday celebration at the Newark Museum in Newark, NJ last month.

The client had very specific requests on the book titles and stacking order, and wanted a classic book feel to the overall look.  I thought a marbled board would be a nice accent as well.  I have to say I’m pretty happy with the end result!

All the books were vanilla pound cake, filled with lemon curd, frosted in vanilla moussaline buttercream, and decorated in fondant.

It was wonderful to hear that the cake went over well, as I received the following note in an email from Encore Catering the following week:

“Awesome job on the book cake. The client was thrilled!”

 

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!

Oh, hello there blogosphere!

Before the entire month of April goes by … I wanted to sneak in at least one post!  Like many months as a solopreneur, the month of April was one of ups and downs, unexpected opportunities, and a lot of lessons learned.

I’ll be posting in more detail about all of the below soon … but here’s a quick recap of all the goings on at Sweet Element this past month!

To start things off, here are a few of this month’s cakes!

This first cake was a vanilla cake, filled with dark chocolate ganache, and frosted in vanilla buttercream for a shabby chic birthday party for a very sweet one year old in Edgewater, NJ.

This sweet little red velvet birthday cake, filled with cream cheese frosting, and iced in vanilla buttercream was ordered as a surprise by a very sweet son. 🙂

These three wedding cakes were designed for a super fun modern Marie Antoinette themed wedding. I’ll be posting a lot more detail on these in another post next month!

Lastly, this fashion forward wedding cake was one of the two wedding cakes that were specially designed for the launch of Rami Kashou’s bridal line at Bebe.  I’ll be posting more on this event soon too!

There were a few more really fun cakes that I had the opportunity to make and would love to share, but I’m awaiting publication … so, as soon as I find out more, I’ll be updating everyone here too!

I was also extremely fortunate to get to know a number of fabulous folks in the wedding & event industry this month, including fellow cake designers, photographers, event planners, florists and make up artists.  I even got to make wedding cakes (yes, you read that right – cakeS!) for a super sweet make up artist ~ who had an awesome wedding at the Loew’s theater in Jersey City, NJ!

I was so excited to finally have a few professional headshots taken by the lovely Mikkel Paige in SoHo, which is one of my favorite neighborhoods in NYC.  The most amazing thing to me about these shots was that they were taken after I had only gotten four hours of sleep, having stayed up to the wee hours to finish cakes for a last minute shoot (more on that shoot coming soon too!).

And last but not least, here’s a glimpse of some of the much needed *fun* that Mr. Sweet Element & I got to enjoy this month!

Clockwise from top left: Mr. Sweet Element & I on the beach in Asbury Park – my first time there!; Traditional ice cream cake from Parm in SoHo, NYC – worth every calorie!  The sandwiches were so good (& I was so hungry), that I never got a photo.; My first Yankees game of the season in the Bronx.; Nagle’s ice cream parlor in Ocean Grove, NJ … can you see a theme here? 😉

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!

Spring 2012 Press!

I thought I’d take a moment to share some of the latest Sweet Element cakes that have found their way onto the pages of a variety of spring bridal magazines!

Here’s our pleated cake (on the right) in a Designer Desserts feature in the Spring 2012 issue of The Knot.  All cakes in the feature pulled details from fashion to adorn cakes – one of my favorite things to do!


Sweet Element definitely made a splash in our first appearances in both Contemporary Bride New Jersey & Contemporary Bride New York with a total of 9 cakes featured in their Spring 2012 issues!

In the inspire me: Jet Setters spread, our Par Avion Wedding cake was featured.


Here’s a close up shot of the Par Avion Wedding Cake.

In the inspire me: Groom’s Cakes spread, we had our Miller Lite Beer Bucket and our Lego Star Wars & Guinness groom’s cakes featured.


Close up of the Miller Lite Beer Bucket Groom’s Cake.

Close up of the Lego Star Wars & Guinness Cake.

I was thrilled to see our set of five Monique Lhuiller Inspired Wedding Cakes opened up the Cakes to Feast Your Eyes On feature!

Last but not least, we had one of our fresh flower wedding cakes, a square fondant wedding cake decorated in orchids in the subsequent pages of the Cakes to Feast Your Eyes On feature.


Close up shot of the Cascading Orchid Wedding Cake.

Brides White Hot Style Shop!

I usually wait on blogging about cakes created for publication, and as this lavender sequined wedding cake was created for the January 2012 issue of Brides magazine, I decided to wait until the issue hit newsstands to share this post!

Sweet Element was fortunate enough to be included in last year’s Brides White Hot Style Shop in NYC.  I was super excited to see my lavender sequined cake with purple fantasy flower was showcased on the cake table right at the front of the shop!


Here’s a photo of me with my cake taken by a fellow female entrepreneur & friend, Susan Ng (go check out her beauty products @ Naturally Susan’s) that came to visit during the Sweet Element cupcake tasting (both pistachio and red velvet went over extremely well)!


A few beautiful orchids from the florist …

And lastly … a lovely portrait of Jay & I being silly at the wrap party from The Booth!

Making Mini Wedding Cakes Big!

I recently had the opportunity to work with a bride who had fallen in love with the Monique Lhuillier inspired mini-cakes featured in The Knot’s spring 2011 issue.  There was just one little catch – she wanted them made big enough to feed 100+ guests!


Close up of the original mini-cakes:


And here are the replicas made a lot bigger!


It took a little bit of math to figure out how much cake would be needed in order to replicate these five lil’ cakes into their larger counterparts & a little bit of carpentry to make a few custom cake stands, but I have to say, I think I like the larger versions a bit better!

All five cakes, delivered to the Garden City Country Club in Garden City, LI,  were vanilla cake, filled & frosted in vanilla moussaline buttercream, and decorated in a combination of gum paste & fondant.

Here’s a quick shot I got to showcase the size difference before heading out for delivery.

And lastly, here are close ups of the individual cakes.