Reggae Birthday!

What a fun cake to make for a past colleague who wanted to have a reggae themed party with all their loved ones! For this cake I decided to go all SMBC and only fondant/gumpaste toppers and accent as needed. 


Seeing all the colors made it super festive and fun to work with. The original plan was to have a little teddy bear for the cake topper but then was asked to make it after their family dog Doris! I love love when clients are able to add their own requests for design since it helps me make it extra special for them. :) I was given some photos of her but then I pretty much used any and all photos I could find on IG to piece together the rest of the details. 

I also opted for no-fondant smash cake and used chocolate SMBC for the drum accents. First time piping lines with a wilton tip #3 and the key was not letting the tip/icing touch the cake. Pipe the icing out slightly off the cake and let it FALL on the cake. Still need a bit more practice but was happy with my first attempt. 

Here is the finished cake in all it's glory! Inside is a vanilla almond cake with fresh raspberry swiss meringue buttercream. Happy Birthday Asa!! 


Ode to the Air Jordan 3

This week I was asked to create a cake for the ultimate basketball / sneakerhead guy. One of my past colleagues came to me and said she wanted a special birthday cake for her boyfriend, then sent me pics of his favorite pair of shoes.... the Nike Retro Jordan 3's! (This also happens to be Kelvin's favorite shoe too!)  


It's so fun to work with people to create delicious cake ideas that embody what they love!! She also mentioned that he loves basketball (just like Kelvin, haha) so from there I came up with this super clean, fun cake featuring he signature grey/black trim, a red jumpman and a mini basketball topper. 

Here are the original sketches for the cake when I wanted to make a little mini-guy but in the end we decided a more general b-ball theme would be best. Also decided on the second sketch to go with using the jumpman as the "T" which I thought was a fun way to incorporate him. 

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Here is the final cake that I passed off for birthday celebrations! I'm pretty happy with it considering this was all just ingredients a day ago. Hehe. Happy Birthday Justin!  (Sorry Kelvin, this cake isn't for you.) 


Chocolate Hazelnut Strawberry Rosé Cake

In celebration of Valentine's / Galentine's / LOVE Day, I made a little sweetheart cake to bring more love into our lives. I don't know about you, but the news has been especially weighing on me and seems to just get heavier and heavier as the days go on. This year I'm not looking at February 14th as a romantic holiday to celebrate with my hubby. I see Feb 14th as a reminder to give more love to everyone on that day and every day. 

This recipe is a variation of that classic combo and playing with texture and other complementary flavors. I'm a pretty big fan of chocolate and strawberries as a combo if it isn't clear already. Haha. Promise I'll come up with more recipes that aren't chocolate and strawberry ;) 

This chocolate cake is much lighter than my other recipe and I love the addition of hazelnuts since it gives it a little crunch and the nuttiness goes nicely with the chocolate. As for the buttercream,  I added rosé wine to give it a little bite to the sweetness of the strawberry. I gotta say I'm definitely using this buttercream recipe for other desserts in the future! #roseallday 

I think a 6" cake is the perfect sweetheart sized cake for a small dinner party. I'm also not opposed to using a little fondant and sprinkles to add those finishing touches but they're definitely not crucial to a beautiful and delicious cake. I've included below if you're interested in learning how to make fondant hearts without a cutter. 

Color and roll out small balls of fondant. 

Using a scissor, cut a little slice 1/3 of the way through it. 

Using a shaping tool with the ball at the end of it, press on one side to flatten out and get the heart shape. 

This was a fun cake to make since I'm usually making cakes with 6 layers vs. 3 layers and soo much easier. Ahhh those even layers are also so calming for my OCD need for perfect layers and cake. The other new technique was to have the top of the cake a different color from the sides of the cake. 

The key to this look is to pipe and nearly finish smoothing out the top layer first. Then pipe and smooth out the sides of the cake. From there, as you smooth out the top edges, make sure to clean your spatula or flat surface after every swipe. 

Chocolate Hazelnut Cake + Strawberry Rosé Swiss Meringue Buttercream
Makes One 6" sweetheart love cake

Chocolate Hazelnut Cake: 

  • 1 cup roasted unsalted hazelnuts, finely ground 
  • 1 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup cake flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt  
  • 2 large eggs, room temp 
  • 1 cup whole milk, room temp 
  • 1/2 cup canola oil 
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract 

Strawberry Rosé Swiss Meringue buttercream: 

  • 7 egg whites, room temp
  • pinch of cream of tartar or a couple drops of lemon juice 
  • 1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 1/2 sticks butter 
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract 
  • pinch kosher salt 
  • 1/4 cup + 1-2 tablespoons fresh strawberry puree 
  • 3 to 5 tablespoons dry rosé 
  • 1/3 cup freeze dried strawberries (They sent good ones at Trader Joe's.) 
  • couple drops of food coloring 
  • sprinkles, fondant and any other decoration finishes 


1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease 3 6" round cake pans and line with parchment paper. Set aside. 

2. If you didn't buy roasted hazelnuts then make sure to roast them yourself either in a pan (no oil) oven then let to come to room temp. Place roasted hazelnuts into a food processor and grind until they become small crumbs but not too much where they are a paste! Measure out ¼ of the hazelnuts and set aside. This can be used either on top of the cake or for other recipes. 

3. In a stand mixer bowl with the paddle attachment, add the processed hazelnuts, sugar, all-purpose flour, cake flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and kosher salt. Mix until incorporated.

4. In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, vegetable oil, vanilla extract. (All but the water.) Then slowly incorporate the wet ingredients into the stand mixer bowl with the dry ingredients. Batter will be on the thicker side so this is where you stir in the boiling water. After incorporating it will be a very thin, wet batter. Total process shouldn't take long and make sure to not over-mix the ingredients. 

5. Divide the batter evenly into prepared pans. I use a kitchen scale and think it might be time for a new one!  Then tap the baking sheets against the table to remove the air pockets.

6. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Give the cake pans a turn halfway through the baking (after 8 minutes).  

7.  Let cake cool on a wire rack until ready to frost.


1. Cut/clean fresh strawberries and place them into a food processor to puree then set aside. Will only need 1/4 of the puree for one batch of buttercream. Add wine to the strawberries In a food processor blend the freeze dried strawberries to a fine powder and set aside. 

2. Add whisk attachment to stand mixer. Wipes down the electric bowl mixer with some lemon juice to ensure no fat/oil contamination. Add in egg whites and granulated sugar.

3. Create a double boiler with a medium pot filled 1/3 of the way with water. Ensure that the mixer bowl does not touch the water.

4. Add stand bowl with eggs & sugar and place over the boiling water with a medium heat. Lightly and constantly whisk the egg whites to avoid any eggs cooking. After 4 minutes or so, check temperature of eggs and ensure it reaches 160°F / 71°C.

4. Place bowl back on stand mixer and begin to mix on medium high for about 10 minutes. Will want your egg whites to be at a stiff peak. Check your bowl at 8 minutes and see how much more is needed. 

5. When bowl is cool to touch, remove whisk attachment and switched to the paddle attachment. Start adding in butter one tablespoon at a time and incorporate all the butter on the slow setting.

6. After butter is incorporated, add vanilla extract. Keep mixing until light, creamy and airy.

7. Set aside 2/3 of the batch in a bowl since that will be the buttercream used for the outside of the cake. The other 1/3 of the buttercream, add in 1/4 cup of strawberry puree, strawberry powder and 5 tablespoons of rosé.  Continue to mix in the stand mixer. Taste this as you go! If you need more strawberry, add more powder. If you need more rosé, then add another tablespoon. Careful not to over add on liquid. Always make sure you mix fully before adding more when you're tasing.  

8. Of the remaining 2/3 batch of buttercream, divide to two bowls again 1/3 in one bowl (light pink for top of the cake) and 2/3 in another bowl (darker pink for the sides of the cake).  

9. Apply light pink buttercream to the top of the cake and smooth out as you would normally do. THEN apply the darker pink buttercream on the sides. Carefully smooth out buttercream and when working on the edges of the cake on the top, wipe every time you swipe with your spatula/straight edge. 

10. Decorate with sprinkles and fondant hearts. 





Moana Themed Birthday Cake

Every year for the last 3 years I've made my sister-in-law's friend's daughter's Birthday Cake. The first year was Frozen, second was My Little Pony and this year, she wanted Moana! I love whenever her birthday comes around because I think secretly (or not so secretly) I would TOTALLY pick the same themes that she does for MY birthday cake. Basically I get to live my fantasy through Jolie's Birthday every year. 

Moana was easy in the sense that I'm used to making surf themed cakes. As seen on The Great American Baking Show with my Surfing Santa Showstopper, and another friend who asked for a "Surf Shack" birthday cake. I knew instantly that I was going to do an ombre blue ocean for the primary color and then from there it was all about the details. 

I incorporated Moana's signature swirl by printing and cutting out a pattern for the top and then apply crushed graham crackers to the top. Then the rest included a gum paste topper and fondant finishings. Pretty proud of this one and can see this being a popular one this year! 


From concept to completion!

This weekend I completed one of my most fun commission to date! My friend asked me to make a birthday cake for his girlfriend since they were both big fans of The Great American Baking Show and GBBO. (Btw, I always feel so special and awesome whenever asked to be apart of these special moments.) Like all my custom commissions, I usually ask what theme they have in mind or if there's a specific movie, show, character, etc. that the person is into. In this case, she was super into an anime series called Neon Genesis Evangelion and her favorite character is Rei Ayanami. 

Upon my initial Google research, I have to say I was pretty intimidated given my style is more "cutesy" and less realistic than the beautiful artwork from the series. My friend helped provide me with some reference images and from there I started to sketch! It's not like I ever said I could draw... haha! But I did have fun designing this little 6" cake. 

We narrowed down to 3 images that helped inspire the look of the cake. I also pulled inspiration from figurines and toys of anime characters to help me figure out how I wanted to craft Rei. I started to make the topper 4 days before the cake was due so I could properly dry the head and body before adding all the details. I also worked with my friend to ensure colors were accurate. 

Before I changed her eyes to red! 

Before I changed her eyes to red! 

Working on Lilth's Mask 

Working on Lilth's Mask 

In the end, this was not only a great exercise for me to continue honing my aesthetic/design style but also really made my heart sing when I saw how happy the cake made his girlfriend. :) Happy Birthday, Erin! Xoxo.