Confectionary Designs is a boutique bakery located in Northern NJ, specializing in custom cakes, cookies, and pastries. Please visit us at

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Monday, November 29, 2010

Guest Blogger Debi Brim: Groom's Cake

I don't think I know anyone in the cake decorating world that isn't familiar with Debi Brim's wonderful creations, her witty comments, and her generosity in advising others. My business partner, Pam, and I have both benefited greatly from her advice and probably avoided a lot of headaches when we opened our bakery .

Debi graciously agreed to guest blog for us this week. Please check out the article below for a great cake and a little history!

I  had a groom who was an outdoorsman. I made this Tree Stump cake for them. The 3-layer cake is covered in fondant, then hand-painted to look like a tree stump. The bride and groom's initials were carved into the trunk and I hand painted the carving with a dry gold luster dust to make it stand out. The green foil covered base resembles a grassy base.

This was then displayed on my Slice-of-Tree cake stand, handmade by Bill Dickinson of Dickinson Custom Furniture in Greenfield IND. I had asked Bill to keep an eye out for a nice big slice of wood just for this purpose and it took him about 3 months to find the right piece for me. He did a great job!

Adding some decorative fall leaves and some rose petals added to the look of this autumn wedding groom's cake.

The history of a groom's cake are vague and varied. In ancient times, it was believed if a single girl slept with a slice of groom's cake under her pillow, she would dream of the man she would marry. Groom's cakes were usually a fruit cake, or a dark (read "chocolate") liquor soaked cake.

Today, groom's cakes are getting very creative, reflecting the groom's (or sometimes, the couple's) interests, such as a hobby, favorite sports team, etc. They are served at the rehearsal dinner, as a midnight snack after the wedding, and sometimes alongside the traditional wedding cake.

Debi is also a very gifted writer/poet. Please check out her wonderful writing collection for a little inspiration.

5 Days of Christmas: Part IV

This is one of my favorite holiday cakes because the sheen is so intense. We achieve this by airbrushing with a mixture of pearl dust and Everclear. If you don't have an airbrush, Pearl Spray by PME works very nicely. I also love the poofy two-toned bow look!

The cake is our 'secret' red velvet recipe filled with Toba Garrett's Cream Cheese recipe. Our customers really like this filling as it is not overly sweet like so many other cream cheese fillings. The cake is iced in a vanilla white chocolate ganache - we find what works best is to boil 1 part heavy cream with 2 Tbsp vanilla extract and add to 3 parts white chocolate; stir to a smooth consistency; let rest overnight and your ganache will be the texture of a creamy peanut butter - perfect for icing your cake and super smooth under the fondant.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

5 Days of Christmas: Part III

Here's a pic of our carved Christmas tree cake. Although it looks a bit difficult it was actually quite simple to make once we broke it down. The hardest part of making this cake was going back to high-school math to calculate the angles (yes, my teachers were right when they told me 'you'll use this again!").

Its a three-tier cake with each tier carved at an angle, covered in fondant, and stacked using pillars extending above the tiers (we wrapped the pillars in red fondant). The cake is sitting on a base of styrofoam draped in red fondant for the tree trunk.  

Anyone who knows my decorating methods will recognize my favorite part of this cake - the little gumpaste figures under the cake. I can work on these little things all day!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

5 Days of Christmas: Part II

So what is better than a big stack of holiday presents? Well, holiday presents you can eat of course! Er...on second thought, that holds true unless the presents are diamonds, cashmere, etc... you get the picture!

The base cake is a 14" spice cake with layers of yummy Brown Sugar Swiss Meringue  (add a touch of cinnamon or allspice to this recipe for a little extra taste).

The presents on top of the large cake are made of tiny layers of almond frangipane cake sandwiched together with apricot jam.

Friday, November 26, 2010

5 Days of Christmas: Part I

Even though our Bogota, NJ bakery is located 15 minutes from the bustling metropolis of Manhattan, I often feel like I'm working in Mayberry. Bogota seems to have withstood the test of time and everyone knows everyone and everyone is involved in everything.

Our fire inspector, who is also the president of the town's 'Beautification Committee' (I use that term loosely), has taken great care of us along with the rest of his team, and we like to take care of them by delivering bags of goodies every so often to show our appreciation. We are debating the design for this year's Fire Department cake, but last year the following is what we dropped off:

The cake is made using Syliva Weinstock's Yellow Cake recipe  which we find bakes up sturdy enough to withstand carving yet is still quite moist. Santa and the fire hat brim are made from gumpaste.

If you have any fun cake ideas we can do for the folks at the fire department this year, please drop us a comment.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving From Confectionary Designs

Wishing everyone a wonderful holiday! We are so thankful for everything - including all our blog followers!

Please check out this great Happy Thanksgiving e-card by Jacquie Lawson the Queen of Flash:

Monday, November 22, 2010

Our Latest Purse Cake

We made this purse cake for a dear friend of ours for her birthday. Its a red velvet cake with Toba Garrett's cream cheese frosting recipe, iced in a white chocolate vanilla ganache, and decorated with fondant.

Next week we will be publishing a post documenting all the steps to creating a wonderful purse cake like this, so please check back.

Couture Cake Jewelry!

Couture Cake Jewelry Monogram - Clever placement on the middle tier!

We just found a great new vendor to refer our brides and other clients to! Couture Cake Jewelry has been creating beautiful Swarovski Crystal Covered Monogram Cake Toppers since 2005. It's the perfect sparkling touch to any cake for Weddings, Anniversaries, "Sweet 16" parties, Quinceaneras and other special events. Their other accessories include wedding cake serving sets, Crystal Ribbon, bouquet monograms, tiaras and jewelry sets and much more!

Please take a look at the beautiful items they offer at 

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Apple Tart with Walnut Frangipane

This apple tart recipe is just perfect - ever since trying it a few years ago, I have yet to make an apple pie. Try it and you will see why!

What you will need:

1 Recipe Walnut Frangipane:
  • 5 oz. walnut pieces
  • 4 oz. granulated sugar
  • 4 oz. brown sugar
  • 8 oz. softened butter
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 fluid oz. dark rum (optional)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2.5 oz. AP flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder

Tart Topping:
  • 8 apples
  • 2 oz. melted butter mixed with cinnamon and sugar to taste
To Assemble:
  1. Make the Pate Sucree and let rest in refrigerator for a few hours.
  2. Grease and line a half-sheet baking pan with parchment paper.
  3. Roll out Pate Sucree to approximately 1/4" thick and put on baking pan; let rest in refridgerator.
  4. Make Walnut Frangipane:
    • Grind walnuts and granulated sugar together in a food processor until finely ground
    • Cream butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy
    • Beat walnut/sugar mixture and rum into the creamed butter
    • Beat in eggs
    • Whisk flour and baking powder together; add to mixer and stir until flour is absorbed
  5. Spread the frangipane mixture evenly on the Pate Sucree
  6. Core and peel apples, Slice in 1/4" slices and fan out heavily across the frangipane
  7. Brush butter/cinnamon/sugar mixture over apples
  8. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until frangipane is set.
I like to top this dessert off with cinnamon or vanilla ice cream, caramel sauce, and sprinkle with chopped walnuts.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Alice in Wonderland Themed Cake

Happy Sweet Sixteen!!

What a fun cake this was to make! One of our interns came up with the idea for his sister's sweet sixteen birthday party and we jumped in on helping him to make it. I loved all the design elements he came up with. The hat is several tiers of chocolate cake with a strawberry meringue filling. The cat's body is carved cake and his head and tail are Rice Krispy treats. Gotta love that cat's smile!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

A Fairy Tale Baby Shower - NJ Bakery


We were thrilled to create this baby shower cake for a very special couple. The theme for the party was 'Fairy Tales' and there are so many great fairy tales it was hard to come up with titles to use! All figurines are modelled using gumpaste and the book titles were hand painted.

When I arrived at the venue to deliver this cake I was blown away by the decor. The Finishing Touch, a company specializing in wedding and special events planning, had transformed a plain room into a magical fairy tale! Please see the photos below for just a peek at the set-up:

To see even more decorations and cake photos, please view our video below:

Chocolate for a Year!

Callebaut is holding a recipie contest that I would love to win!! I'm not sure which prize is better: the trip to Brussells or the year supply of chocolate! You can check out the contest and submit your entry at

Good luck to all who enter.

Chocolate Source Logo 154x43

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Santa's Gingerbread Sleigh

Its all too often when you own a bakery that your families are the last ones who get the goodies. Just ask my partner, one of the most amazing cake decorators around, who stopped to buy her son's birthday cake on her way home from the bakery one day as we just got too busy to make one! You can bet he will get a monster of a cake from us next year!

Well, this gingerbread set-up was entirely for the family. Had so much fun making it! I just googled 'gingerbread sled pattern' and picked from one of the many that came up. The sleigh is to be filled with goodies for folks to pop in their mouths over the holidays.

All the figurines are hand-molded from gumpaste - I can get lost in gumpaste molding and emerge days later! 

Monday, November 15, 2010

Shopping Bag or Cake?

We made this cake which duplicates our client's shopping bag. We loved his bag as it is so unique and colorful. The process was a bit complicated but I think it mirrors his bag quite nicely. 

In order to duplicate his logo and designs we used the Cricut 29-0001 Personal Electronic Cutting Machine - we also have the Cake Cricut but find the Personal works just as well when we use the deep cut blade. We scanned his bag and cleaned up the image using Corel Photo program, traced our images into Sure Cuts a Lot, rolled out our fondant and cut away the images.

The bag was made by carving sheet cakes and stacking as if it were a two-tier cake. We hope you enjoy viewing and please contact us if you have any questions.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Listerine Cake

We were asked to make a cake for Johnson & Johnson for one of their employees celebrating an anniversary. She worked in the personal care division and this is what we came up with (luckily they didn't ask for a box of Tucks!). The cake was made by carving two sheet cakes to the shape of the bottle, covering in Satin Ice Rolled Fondant - White - Vanilla - 2 lb, adding the bottle top, and applying an edible image.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

A Tasteful Experience

We were pleased to have been invited to participate in "A Tasteful Experience." The function was held to benefit Clara Maass Medical Center and it was a great success with close to 400 people in attendance. Pam and I baked for several days to prepare for this event (special 'thank you' shout out to Obie for helping us prepare and working the event with us). Our dishes included: chocolate cake with praline filling, spice cake with brown sugar swiss meringue, french macarons (vanilla bean, guava, mocha, and raspberry), cake truffles (red velvet, hazelnut, key lime, and pistachio), apple frangipane, sweet and salty chocolate chip cookies, and pumpkin whoopie pies.

We were lucky enough to get a few minutes to walk around the savory side of the event and taste some amazing dishes from local restaurants. Normally I wouldn't post a savory dish here, but I was blown away by Nanina's sauces (available at Wholefoods and other select supermarkets or online). Here is their recipe for Polla a la Vodka:

1 Jar Nanina's Vodka Sauce (has the perfect amount of tang!)
1 lb. Rigatoni
1 lb. Chicken Breast
2 oz. Sweet Butter
1/2 medium Spanish Onion (diced)
Peas (frozen)
Vegetable Oil

  • Lightly flour chicken breasts.
  • Preheat thin layer of vegetable oil in large saute pan on medium flame. Place chicken breasts in pan and saute until lightly browned. Once browned, add onions. Once onions are lightly browned, add peas and butter. After 1 minute add Nanina's Vodka sauce, cover, simmer until sauce is hot.
  • Cook rigatoni pasta al dente and drain. Once pasta is done, pour saute pan contents over pasta and enjoy.
I love meals that only take a few dishes!

Sweet Sixteen Birthday Cake

This was a really special cake to design and make. The birthday girl received an airbrushed guitar for her big day and her father wanted us to replicate the design. Putting the two masks together was a bit challenging, but, hey, we are always up for a challenge!

Like most sculpters, we just took two sheet cakes and carved away anything that didn't look like a mask (OK - so that one is getting old!). The cake is covered in fondant, airbrushed, and we added lots of black edible glitter to the design.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Getting The Bakery Ready for the Holidays

The holiday season is all about cookies around our bakery. Luckily I have Pam as a business partner and she is so detailed in all of her cookie designs (I need to remember to work on my patience!!). Here are two of her cookie designs. Especially love all the little extras on the snowmen including their cheeks dusted with red dust and the holly on the hats. It will soon be time to dust off the holiday cutters!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Gingerbread Votive Holder for the Holidays

Not many things smell better than gingerbread baking in your household over the holidays. The above gingerbread votive holder was quite simple to make. We traced a template for the 4-clover base, cut out four heart shaped cookies and one star. We used a paring knife to cut out holes large enough in the hearts to hold the votives, then baked everything up. Bake the 'clover' shape on a separate pan as it will take longer than the hearts and star. When the stars are slightly cooled, check to make sure the votives still fit into the holes as the gingerbread may have spread during baking. If they don't fit, carefully scrape away excess until the votives slip into the holes.

Royal icing is the only medium we used for constructing and decorating. Adhere the hearts with royal in a symmetrical fashion around the base, then glue the star on top. We used cornelli lace designs and some basic outline piping and swiss dots to complete our piece, but there are so many creative ideas you can come up with on your own.

As with all flamable items, don't leave your gingerbread candle holder unattended!