Dessert Stations – “How To” in a current wave of DELICIOUS!

August 30th, 2016

How many can you fit in the palm of your hand while dancing? (1, 2, 3,…ok 5!)

Whose partying late-night after the DJ & Band?  Clearly they’ll need treats!

Dessert Stations (Dessert bars, buffets, call them what you like) are here to stay.  Delicious, customizable, beautiful, colorful, fun, and PORTABLE for any party, these mini desserts make a maximum impression!

Here are some tips on what to remember when designing and ordering a Dessert Station:

Some of our mini meringue pies, etc. photo by Laura Christin Photography

Some of our mini meringue pies, etc. photo by Laura Christin Photography

 

How to notify guests what’s on the table:

  1. Ask your stationer to create elegant NAME TAGS with calligraphy or printing & paper to match your whole event
  2. Opt to DIY individual sweets tags – get some help, and do this at least 2 weeks ahead of the party so you don’t add stress to your pre-date plans.
  3. Write up a simple 1-page menu of “SWEETS TABLE” items

Either way, make it clear so your guests know what’s what (you don’t want those “coconut-haters” grabbing mistakenly for a coconut cake shot and then – GASP! – trashing it!)

Fruit Tarts! Photo by Anika London Photography

Fruit Tarts! Photo by Anika London Photography

How to select the perfect Dessert Choices for your Guests:

  1. Ask your cake designer/baker for their suggestions of their top sellers; or, pick a group of your FAVORITES to share with your guests.
  2. Choose a mix of varied flavor, texture, color, and look, and consider any special diets who may require gluten-free pastries or dairy-free options, among others.  *At Sweet Cheeks, we suggest a nice mix of:  CREAMY, CRUNCHY, CHOCOLATE, FRUITY, AND SPICE
  3. These days it’s almost ALWAYS a good idea to offer 1 Gluten-Free item on the buffet.
  4. Think about how they will show off on a display – does the setup look better with COOKIES? With cupcakes? With items on Sticks?
Mini bites displayed at Lomas Santa Fe CC, Photo by Cavin Elizabeth Photography

Mini bites displayed at Lomas Santa Fe CC, Photo by Cavin Elizabeth Photography

How to create the most fabulous Dessert Display:

  1. Your cake designers should have some terrific suggestions and may even provide RENTALS for dessert stations.  Ask for their input, and recognize that this takes a lot of their time to have it look like those amazing Pinterest photos you’re all seeing.  *At Sweet Cheeks, we typically estimate that  a party of 100 people will require approx. 12-15 great cake stands/platters combined with candles, floral, or any personal objects you’d like to include.
  2. Sometimes a TOWER is cool (usually for taller items, like cupcakes and cake shots), and other times a rambling buffet of classic ceramics, crystal, or metal stands & platters work best (especially for low-format cookies, brownies, tarts).  VASES or unique vessels filled with sugar can play up the fun of Pop Tarts on sticks (*a signature at Sweet Cheeks)!
Homemade Mini Pop Tarts, our Sweet Cheeks Specialty! Photo by Eden Day

Homemade Mini Pop Tarts, our Sweet Cheeks Specialty! Photo by Eden Day

Should I also order a Cake with my Desserts?

Many wedding couples want the TRADITIONAL CAKE CUTTING but don’t want a big cake to serve guests.  *At Sweet Cheeks, we suggest a small cake in your favorite flavor combination and mimicking that flavor in one of your desserts (to avoid pesky friends trying to taste your personal cake…)

Small cake with desserts, fun crates & cake stands, photo by Kristen Vincent

Small cake with desserts, fun crates & cake stands, photo by Kristen Vincent

How much should I order?

  1. Plan for 2-4 mini bites per person. This allows for some variety as well as quantity on display. REMEMBER (PRO-TIP):  Your guests are there to PARTY, and they have not considered how much $ you spent on this event.  They will assume there will always be MORE in the back!
  2. Plan for at least 30% of your guests trying any one thing (i.e. for 150 people, you should provide at least 50 of each dessert selected, or you’ll run out too soon; for smaller groups, plan for more of each item to create a fuller effect).
  3. What is your guest DEMOGRAPHIC?  Lots of kids?  Lots of heavy drinkers?  Lots of elderly folks? In general… Kids LOVE sweets. Ladies love sweets! Heavy drinkers may not even notice that a cake has been cut, but when desserts are out, they will grab whatever’s easy to eat. Elderly folks expect a slice of cake or “a little something” but often are watching their sugar-intake.
Heather Elise Photography always captures the FUN in dessert for us! At the Catamaran Resort.

Heather Elise Photography always captures the FUN in dessert for us! At the Catamaran Resort.

Will Desserts cost me more or less than a Cake?

  1. This depends on what you order, how much you order, and how fabulous you want this display (or how involved you want a cake).
  2. Delivery and setup will take a lot more TIME for desserts, in general, than a cake, so this cost will appear a bit higher than delivery on most cakes.
  3. We generally suggest 4-5 different dessert selections, (at a minimum of at least 2 dozen each.)
  4. RENTALS will typically cost more for multiple items vs. one cake stand for cake.
  5. Elaborate cake designs can easily exceed dessert station costs.
  6. You may opt to DIY the display & setup.  If this idea appeals to you, please get all of your display pieces onto one table, and set them up WELL IN ADVANCE of your event date. Take a photo, and make sure whomever is doing the setup has that photo with those objects.  This saves so much time. (*At Sweet Cheeks, we take great care in blending the perfect display items with each event so that they “fit the vision” of the party. )

Enjoy your planning and future ideas with these thoughts in mind!

CALL US (619) 269-CAKE (2253) for your next party or wedding celebration!

Tuscan Themed party with lemons, pottery, and Sicilian Pistachio cake shooters!

Tuscan Themed party with lemons, pottery, and Sicilian Pistachio cake shooters! True Photography

Farewell to our Chocolate Icon – Gene Wilder

August 30th, 2016

Known by many (of us older than 25) as the true “Willy Wonka,” genius actor/director Gene Wilder passed away this month, leaving behind a mecca of memories, famous lines, and visions of gumdrops to those of us in the sweets industry.

Willy Wonka in his land of Sweets - a world we relate to!

Willy Wonka in his land of Sweets – a world we relate to!

A huge fan of Gene Wilder and his teamwork with Mel Brooks, Richard Pryor, and Madeline Kahn, I wanted to share some of the favorites that will forever bring me hilarious tears of joy. We celebrate his talents through our love of his movies and hope that there is indeed a world beyond who will get to enjoy his incredibly funny isms such as “Put ze candle BACK!”

"It's ALIVE!!!"

“It’s ALIVE!!!”

Although many people find “Blazing Saddles” to be offensively incorrect; yet, if you watch it properly, you realize its WHOLE PURPOSE was to show how ridiculous bigotry truly is.  Genius Gene, thank you for your creations of sweets, chocolate, and humor.

Lili Von Shtupp (Madeline Kahn) & the Sherriff (amazing Cleavon Little)

Lili Von Shtupp (Madeline Kahn) & the Sherriff (amazing Cleavon Little)

Military Chic Wedding in La Jolla

June 24th, 2016

Woo hooo!  CONGRATULATIONS to Marly & Maurice!!!!

Nautical NAVY blue stripes, crisp whites, and elegant golds stand out against the stunning backdrop of Scripps Seaside Forum on La Jolla’s coast.

Shelly Anderson Photography - Black & White images capture smiles and natural love like no other!

Shelly Anderson Photography – Black & White images capture smiles and natural love like no other!

Marly & Maurice’s wedding celebration carried the most beautiful vision with the incredible help of the talented ladies Jillian & Ashley at Coastyle Events and the wildflower-soft “Wow’s” of Hartworks Floral Design.

A wildflower feel with hydrangea & roses softens a crisp nautical style, by Hartworks Florals

A wildflower feel with hydrangea & roses softens a crisp nautical style, by Hartworks Florals

Check out this cake and the details of soft pink & ocean blue glassware!

Check out this cake and the details of soft pink & ocean blue glassware!

We kept the cake as CRISP & CLEAN in design as Maurice’s beautiful dress whites uniform and added textures of gold dust crystal sugar and more of those soft, lovely flowers.  Thanks to our floral genius Lauren Rennie (@Wedgal) for her use of these flowers to embellish this perfectly neat 4-tiered wedding cake created by our baking & decor teams at Sweet Cheeks Baking Co.

Table Settings & cakes that make you go "WOW!" by Coastyle Events & Team Cheeks

Table Settings & cakes that make you go “WOW!” by Coastyle Events & Team Cheeks

Other amazing pros who helped make this such a seamlessly beautiful wedding celebration:

Venue: Scripps Seaside Forum
Coordination: Coastyle Events
Florals: Hartworks Floral Design
Design: Coastyle Events
DJ, Photobooth: ANSOM Productions, INC.
Catering: Culinary Concepts Catering
Cake: Sweet Cheeks Baking Company

Photographer:  Shelly Anderson Photography

The Cats Meow! 9 Years, 9 Lives + Some Crazy Cat Ladies

March 30th, 2016

Sweet Cheeks’ Birthday parties are well known for FUN, YUM, and a little bit o’ CRAZY!  This year, as we celebrated 9 years in business, we chose the “9 Lives” theme of…yup, CATS.

About 350 people showed up – some in ears & tails, others with their own stuffed animals, most just to have a great time & taste AMAZING DESSERTS in cat-inspired style!  From kitty litter cakes to Grumpy Cat Cake, cakes to make the Cake Boss sigh… Gluten Free Desserts to funny edible cat hair balls (coconut, that is)…people were stealing the to-go boxes once again!!!

Sweet Cheeks Baking Co.'s "Team Cheeks!"

Sweet Cheeks Baking Co.’s “Team Cheeks!”

Black & White Beauties of Sweet Cheeks

Black & White Beauties of Sweet Cheeks

Delish sliders by Personal Touch Dining

Delish sliders by Personal Touch Dining

overflow party outside

The party continues outside every year…

mini cat ear cupcakes

mini cat ear cupcakes

Elvis & Mikey's favorite PB & G

Elvis & Mikey’s favorite PB & G

Elyse & Kelsey Rae

Elyse & Kelsey Rae

Family support!

Family support!

The men of JOTN

The men of JOTN

Dana never misses a party

Dana never misses a party

Fresh from the hood

Fresh from the hood

Team Kemal

Team Kemal

The Blonde Contingent

The Blonde Contingent

Gorgeous ladies

Gorgeous ladies

Meow

Meow

HUGE THANKS go out to friends who help with their talents, time, and donations:

:: CATERING: Personal Touch Dining     :: ESPRESSO CATERING: Joes on the Nose

:: PHOTOGRAPHY:  Emilio Azevedo Photography     :: DJ/MUSIC: ProMotion Entertainment

:: FLOWER CENTERPIECES:  Adorations Botanical Artistry

:: ENTRY BEVERAGES & FLORAL ARCH: Embellishmint Floral & Event Design Studio

:: INCREDIBLE DESSERT DISPLAY BY:  Sweet Cheeks Baking Co. team!

SUPERMOMS in the Wedding Biz

January 28th, 2016

How do they do it?
Have you ever wondered how some people can multi-task and others can’t?
How do these women handle time consuming jobs, focus on emotionally charged clients, and do it MASTERFULLY, all while going through pregnancy, babies, & child rearing?

We call them SUPERMOMS! Here are five of our many amazing San Diego based industry professional friends who have proven it is not only possible but also desirable! These ladies pretty well cover the gamut of pregnancy thru youngins’…take a look…

I asked them each a few questions regarding pregnancy and/or raising kids while working full or part-tim, here’s the list of questions:
1. How long were you able to work while pregnant? If all the way thru term, was it difficult? If you had to or decided to stop early on in your pregnancy, why?
2. Do you feel your pregnancy helped get business or hurt it? Do you tell your clients or not? How do clients react to you when they hear you are pregnant and/or will be for their event?
3. What challenges did you face during the process of pregnancy or raising children while working?
4. Do you have suggestions for other people getting into this industry (particularly your end of it, whatever your job) who also want to start a family?
5. What is/was the most fun part of having babies in this industry?

**HOVER OVER EACH PHOTO FOR CAPTIONS & PHOTO CREDITS**

AS A PHOTOGRAPHER:
Meet Heather Elise Aronan of Heather Elise Photography – I start with Heather, because…SERIOUSLY, her baby was due YESTERDAY!!! January 27, 2016!!! While we were all waiting for the big news, Heather alerted me that not only is her due date postponed to Feb. 3, but she still plans to work this weekend’s San Diego Bridal Bazaar like a true Rockstar!!! Heather is also my paddle boarding buddy even up until two weeks before her due date! I just LOVE this woman, so all digits are crossed for Baby Aronan!!

Heather responded:
1. I suppose you could say I worked up until 1/25, only 2 days before due date since I was editing my last wedding of 2016 until then. However, my last shoot was December 13th. I feel like my belly was getting pretty large at that point, so I decided to hold off on any other shoots until after baby is born. I was still doing client meetings.

2. Neither. I was definitely CONCERNED that clients might think it would be a liability…but that was me overthinking it. I didn’t tell people until I was notably prego as I preferred to stay in the excitement of their wedding day and their love and less on my excitement for my new addition. To my surprise, at 38 weeks prego I booked a wedding. Definitely clients reacted with excitement for me…although I definitely try to bring the excitement back to them.

3. Fear of the huge shift that I am not just responsible for myself but now responsible for another human being. Oh and fear of no sleep. I prefer 8 to 9 hours and THAT will no longer be… haha! I am definitely nervous about scheduling appointments/shoots around baby. Thank goodness we have both grandmothers close to home so we will have support.

4. While of course I have a few challenges ahead of me I am SO grateful that this job allows me to stay home with baby and work at the same time. I am grateful to have watched my sister-in-law (also talented Carrie McCluskey Photography) have 3 kids while photographing weddings over the past decade, and she gives me hope that this is totally doable. I would advise if it’s possible…..have babies in the off season! Of course babies come when babies come but wow, so happy to have been able to relax a bit and enjoy pregnancy while not in the height of
the year….and definitely DON’T overthink things. I have found that continuing to work has helped keep things in perspective and not overthinking too much.

5. I would say it has been super fun sharing the news that we were prego with industry friends in person. Our community is pretty awesome and it was fun to feel excitement from vendor friends!

Reality Check from the beautiful Sara France of Sara France Photography & France Photographers

1. I shot weddings all the way until 3 weeks before my due date which ended up being 2 weeks before she was born. I even shot a 14 hour wedding in New York only 6 weeks before she was born and yes you can fly that late in your term. I did not have a hard time shooting while I was pregnant. The hardest part was just not being able to lay on the floor to get a shot but that is why we have awesome second photographers.

2. It for sure hurt business for me but I have two other photographers so I think it helped get them business sometimes. I noticed that when clients were interviewing me, even if their wedding was going to be far after I gave birth they were still concerned. I could tell they were wondering how things would change for me with a new baby and how that would effect them. Of course I knew that would not effect them at all I only told the clients that I thought it would effect but most of them knew already via social media. They were all super excited and supportive. For the NY client I brought an extra photographer just in case and I told him before I announced it on Social Media.

3. My biggest challenge during pregnancy was convincing people that I was not disabled. I wanted them to treat me the same. I was still able to do all the things I could do when I was not pregnant. I just happened to be growing another human inside of me while I was doing all those things. My biggest challenge in raising Charlie has been in finding the right balance and the right boundaries. I have had to find a whole new workout, create a new schedule, and invite new people in my home to help.

4. Absolutely, I have been incredibly blessed to have my team around me. This would have been such a harder transition without them. I knew I wanted to start a family soon and I was able to expand my business to include 2 incredible photographers a couple years ago; without their support I do not know where I would be. Having a support team around you is keep to success in times like these.

5. Everyone tells you how much work it is to have a baby but no-one tells you how much fun it is. I have never enjoyed my life more than I do now that I have this ball of joy in my life. Yes she cries, yes she is needy at times but there is nothing like the feeling when she laughs and
hugs me. Sharing that with other people in the industry is the best. I feel like I have so many people supporting me and cheering me on. I love sharing this journey with everyone in the industry.

AS A WEDDING & EVENT COORDINATOR:
An amazing reality of female Wedding Coordinators seems to be that they all get pregnant! The large group of talented ladies from Bliss Events seem to have a new baby in the mix every season, and it’s just SO MUCH FUN! We love these ladies! Here are two mega-moms who gave us some amazing input & suggestions for women who want to have babies while working.

Rachel Welland, Owner of this fantastic Wedding & Event Coordinating & Design Company, has grown Bliss Events from a small event company to one of the finest & most respected in Southern California…all while raising two babies! Rachel is one of the strongest women I know, extremely detail-oriented, focused, and professional, so I was really interested in hearing her feedback.

1. I worked up until my due date! I had to slow down leading up to the due date, but I was sure to not schedule many meetings (or weddings) for a few weeks prior.

2. My clients were very supportive and excited for me! I was sure to reassure them that I would have extra assistance at their weddings and they were confident in me and my team.

3. While pregnant, I had to be sure to take some breaks when I was working at weddings (e.g. sitting down once in a while). While I was a new mom and was breastfeeding, I had to pump a few times during each wedding day (my shift is typically 10-to-12 hours!), which was a challenge to leave the event for about 20 minutes, but I would pick the best possible times when I would not be “missed”.

4. If possible, it would be best to work a few years and learn the job inside & out, as well as establishing routines and processes. Then it would be easier to be pregnant and have a child, if the business is already established and is in good order.

5. I have a flexible schedule with my career, which allows me time to spend with my child!

Paige Jensen, Coordinator & Designer at Bliss Events

With her two gorgeous munchables

With her two gorgeous munchables

1. I was able to work with the 1st baby up til the end, I had a wedding 2 weeks before she was due BUT actually she was early – probably due
to the fact that I was working and so active. With 2nd baby, I knew I wanted more time to myself and with my current li’l one so didn’t schedule much around the time of birth or directly after.

2. Physically & mentally, I had way more difficulty with the 2nd baby – everything just happened earlier and faster for me! Overall, from about 6 months on with both… I had to hire an extra assistant to come earlier and stay later just to be my “hands and legs” for the physical labor (moving belly bars, picking up boxes of personal items – all hard on the body). You don’t want to strain the belly area too much so having someone was really helpful.
Emotions, anxiety, mental focus are all a challenge; you are learning how to handle 2 full-time jobs.

3. If you had to or decided to stop early on in your pregnancy, why? I stopped early with my 2nd baby, to allow more time to focus on my older child a bit before the new baby came (and to prepare mentally!) Honestly, I had a wedding booked about 3 weeks before due date with clients who were BOTH DOCTORS; they weren’t comfortable knowing my 1st baby was early (as they were educated to ask me) and were afraid that they would be left without a Coordinator. They didn’t want that stress of not knowing, so we transferred them to my colleague. This worked out great – I am blessed to have our Bliss team for random situations like that.

4. I wouldn’t say it “hurt” my business. With my 1st child no-one had a problem; I had events leading right up to it and then 2 full service events 6 weeks after. With my 2nd, ONE couple was not comfortable having me due close to their wedding, so my colleague Staci took over. Always alerted clients in appropriate timing. ALL were elated, so excited for me. For the few who showed any concern for how that might affect their event, I was always able to walk them through my Plan B (extra assistants, a 2nd coordinator, mom bringing the baby for breastfeeding and myself arriving earlier to allow for that time, doing meetings and their timelines/stuff early and ahead of time, etc.)

5. During pregnancy, Baby Brain… (it’s so TRUE) Just use more post-its and reminders for the basics, haha. Physical hindrances just to do my job on auto-pilot require extra hands on deck. After the pregnancy: Oh man- I mean you are learning a whole new full time job- mother. And then still doing your passion and regular work and all from the same house/office/work zone so I would say it’s The balance (of all that). Every baby & mother/professional is different. For me, I realized instead of getting 10 things done in a day, I had to be stoked on getting only 1-2.

Prioritize my time with work, hubby, the baby, house work, ME time- all important.
::Great routines for the kids
::Naps to help my lack of sleep
The mental struggle is toughest: you’re playing with your new baby but in the back of your mind- you are thinking- “I can do this table like this for this bride” and “oh got to get back to this one on her schedule when she comes to visit,” and “oh yeah- need to answer that blog questionnaire from Elaine with Sweet Cheeks” (hehe). On the flip-side, you are working when your baby is napping, and you’re as efficient as possible, but it’s a race against the clock for when they get up and then BOOM your work stops– your work mind flow stops and you go attend to your baby and have to come back to it maybe 5 hours later or the next day. It’s just tougher than I thought it would be but then again- you just power through!

6. I wouldn’t try to start a business and have a baby at same time- start the job, then have babies OR vice versa. Both will be your “babies” and require your full attention to do them right and 100% successfully (notice I didn’t say perfectly because no one is and no one way to do all this is perfect). Other advice: DIVE IN! YOU WILL FIGURE IT OUT and YOU WILL DO A GREAT JOB and THE BEST JOB THAT YOU CAN DO at both!

Another thing: I think having a team to rely on (like when I had to drop a few weddings from my due date) and just for support because on our team we are all moms and planners- it’s wonderful and makes you feel like you are not alone doing either. And last: Once you are “in it”- working and pregnant or going to have a baby- check out nanny or daycare (doesn’t need to be full-time or it can be) but just prepare- BE A PLANNER for your life and your baby’s life so that you know she/he will be well taken care of when you do have a wedding or a meeting or need office time and on the other end you know that you can expect that time to focus fully 100% on your clients.

7. I am fortunate to maximize both of the greatest jobs at the same time! Coordinating requires LOTS of logistics constantly, but I am home with my babies WHEN I WANT TO BE and then working WHEN I WANT TO BE. Freedom & flexibility- not always easy to choose one over the other. I’d stop trying to do both, but then I wouldn’t be able to do the 2 best passions of my life: planning events & raising kiddos. Our industry is mostly about events centered around LOVE, so many of these couples I am marrying will have babies one day, and MANY people in our industry already have families around. So it’s a great industry with lots of LOVE for kids/babies and support, which is huge… they do say “It takes a village to raise kids” and our industry is an incredible “village”.

AS A FLORIST:
Breesa Everett of BLOOMS by Breesa Lee – An incredibly talented floral designer, we are blessed to work with her often these days! Not only do I appreciate Breesa’s realistic answers, I also respect her efforts to maintain family sanity via the signature in her emails…which reads: “Office hours are kept Monday – Wednesday and we leave the rest of the week for event production and family time. Please allow a few extra days for an email response – we want to make sure we answer all your questions.”

1) I worked as much as I could until the day before I went into labor, with some adjustments. I worked like normal until 4 weeks before my due date and then after that I did whatever work I could while sitting down. It was so hot around that time – my feet would get so swollen and I had to work with them up on a chair!

2) I met with clients while pregnant but only took on clients if their wedding was at least a month before I was due or 3 months after I was due. I didn’t want to take the chance of being unable to follow through with the flowers for their event. Everyone I met with was very understanding and pretty amazed!

3) I think the most difficult thing about the balance of having a family while owning a business is all the “extra” stuff. It’s not just finding time to answer emails and put together arrangements. It’s the social aspect of the industry as well. It’s so important to have great vendor relationships and the time required for that is something I didn’t anticipate. Luckily, as my daughter gets older I can find time for the get-togethers in the evenings or she can come along to coffee dates once in a while.

4) My suggestion for florists planning a family is: be easy on yourself. Be as sweet to yourself as you’re going to be to the new baby. Give yourself time and understanding. It’s probably not going to work out how you think it is but it will work out somehow. Your family will find its groove.

5) This industry is full of moms! It’s amazing – the support I’ve found was really a surprise. If you show up to a meeting totally frazzled from your day, you’ll get a look of complete understanding. It’s really wonderful.

THANK YOU to all of these beautiful ladies – all FRIENDS and RESPECTED PROFESSIONALS!!!

Behind the Scenes Look into Our Bakery

January 5th, 2016
Making Caramel

Donna, always stirring the pot…

Cake is Tough Work… Team Cheeks is here!

All those home bakers out there who think baking & decorating cakes is (pardon the pun) “a piece of cake” have it wrong.  Serious cake decorating is tough work and requires many hours of training, patience, practice, and attention to detail!

In the Sweet Cheeks Baking Co. kitchen, while our baking team creates amazing cakes to EAT, the decorating team enhances them in STYLE and CREATIVITY.  Here’s a little “behind the scenes of the bakery” to show how focused and exact our world is:

It’s all in the DETAILS… and it takes a crew of dedicated people to create the perfect polished cake, dessert buffet, or goody bag!  Whew!  Now that’s what I call TEAM CHEEKS AT WORK!

(Is it time for a celebratory cocktail???)

 

Italian Pastry Inspiration! Desserts & Wine of La Dolce Vita..

December 16th, 2015

“La Dolce Vita,” we all dream of the SWEET LIFE – here at Sweet Cheeks Baking Co., we LIVE IT daily!  Woo hoo!

Our Classic Sicilian Cannoli from Grandma Palminteri's recipe vault...

Our Classic Sicilian Cannoli from Grandma Palminteri’s recipe vault… photo by TRUE Photography

Fortunately, we have an incredible team who can cover each other’s positions when we need a break… so when 3 of us decided, all in 2015, that we were going to Italy, we had to figure it out. Donna’s 40th birthday, my 10 year wedding anniversary, and Krista’s HONEYMOON – what a whirlwind of shared Italian fun, romance, history, wine, & pastry!

So honestly… who WOULDN’T be inspired by this grandeur???

Cinque Terre Vetua Vineyard grapes(59)

Many people know that I teach wine classes – Donna & I have taught wine + dessert classes at Disneyland’s Food & Wine Festivals, here in San Diego at the San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival, at the Prado Food & Wine School, of course in our Sweet Cheeks Baking Co. kitchen, and for years I’ve taught to restaurants as well as private individuals.  So i would be remiss not to give you some tips and “How to Pair wine with Dessert” ideas from Italy…

An oldie of us after teaching our Disneyland class

An oldie of us after teaching our Disneyland class

Here are some of my TOP SUGGESTED WINE PAIRING DESSERTS:

:: Shortbread cookies – lemon shortbread with Silver Tequila; almond with Amaretto; Bergamot with St. Germain

:: Biscotti – classically with Vin Santo of Tuscany, they are also delizioso with Banfi’s “Florus” Moscadello di Montalcino!

:: Presidential Pecan Diamonds (from Sweet Cheeks) – insanely good with Bourbon or Rye drinks

:: Flourless Chocolate Cake or other dark chocolate treats with little to no icing – Ruby Port or Dessert Reds

:: Coconut Cake (unsweetened coconut is ideal) – Rum mixed with yummy coconut milk

OOOH, talking about all that was indeed something shiny!

Anyway, back to glorious Italia, my husband & I rented a cool little apartment in Cinque Terre, selected in part (via Trip Advisor) because the owner also owns a vineyard & winery, called Vetua and makes fantastic white Cinque Terre & Sciacchetra wines!  Incredibly, they dry grapes for the Sciacchetra dessert wines right in the MIDDLE OF THE LIVING ROOMS, closets, kitchens, wherever they can find space to let these grapes dry with the right climate…fantastic!!!

Beautiful grapes drying for $$$ Sciacchetra wine

Beautiful grapes drying for $$$ Sciacchetra wine

 

Grapes drying in the middle of the house

Grapes drying in the middle of the house

So speaking of DESSERT WINE, let’s discuss what we’d pair, along with cheese and cigars, with such luxurious delights:  traditional Italian biscotti, (or, as we call them, cookies) and my favorites, the “Brutti ma Buoni” (ugly but good – oh come on, names don’t get any better than that!) are some of the most PERFECT PAIRINGS with white dessert wines.

Brutti ma Buoni cookie photo courtesy of https://breadcakesandale.wordpress.com/

Brutti ma Buoni cookie photo courtesy of https://breadcakesandale.wordpress.com/

“Yes, please, I’ll take one of everything in this case!”

Classic & divine pastries at Linari Pasticceria in old Testaccio neighborhood, Roma

Classic & divine pastries at Linari Pasticceria in old Testaccio neighborhood, Roma

What fun Donna, Krista, & I had sharing our best Italian spots:

:: restaurants (Ristorante Sor’Eva in Trastevere — home to our wonderful new Italian friends Vincenzo & Paolo, and  Imago at the Hassler Roma Hotel, owned & operated by the dashing Dott. Roberto Wirth)

:: Vespa Tours (grazie to the amazing team, Michele & Valerio at Dearoma Tours)

:: delicious pastries (check out old Testaccio neighborhood in Roma for Linari Pasticceria!)

:: best Gelato combinations (Miele & Pistachio at Berlin Gelato in Vernazza; ahh, the famous Giolitti and crazy-enormous selection at MIRKO!)

:: glorious Italian beauty – Tuscan countrysides, Lake Garda mountains, Venice’s secret alleyways, and Rome’s art history

Flaming custard, Italian style for Donna

Flaming custard, Italian style for Donna

Ice-cream, Ice-cream, everywhere!!!  Italians are famous for their delicious GELATO, and nearly every street corner in the cities houses a “gelateria,” so you can’t miss ’em.

Giolitti Gelato, Rome pics (45)

Many hands scooping at the famous Giolitti

 

A toast to the Italian countryside!

Mirko, since 1988, serves nearly 100 flavors daily in Sirmione!

Mirko, since 1988, serves nearly 100 flavors daily in Sirmione!

 

silly honeymooners love gelato

silly honeymooners love gelato

Inspiration abounds in Europe, especially in Italianate design – ceilings, arches, paintings, statues, masks, and rolling olive groves, all give us grace and show us incredible opportunity for creating our own cake & pastry art…here’s the stunning carved ceiling in the Hotel Danieli’s lobby in Venice!

Inspiration for cake design!

Inspiration for cake design!

Even the Venetian animal masks are ready for a snack (see the hidden sign)

Even the Venetian animal masks are ready for a snack (see the hidden sign)

Venice is a treasure trove of cookies, gelato, pastries, coffee, and of course PROSECCO!!!  Cafes on Saint Mark’s Square offer free orchestras, jazz musicians, and performers to entice the tourists.

Cafes attract Prosecco + pastry-loving tourists

Cafes attract Prosecco + pastry-loving tourists

An after dinner drink, or “digestivo” (“to digest;” vs. the more common term “aperitivo” which “opens” the meal) are delicious with a classic treat of Tiramisu, especially when the amazing restaurant Sor’ Eva sends it out ON THE HOUSE – woo hoo!!! Grazie!

Tiramisu at Sor'Eva Restaurant, our favorite local spot in Rome.

Tiramisu at Sor’Eva Restaurant, our favorite local spot in Rome.

Honeymooners, birthday celebrants, and anniversary lovers alike will all love a dessert journey through Italy!  Thoughtful and romantic, those Italians sure know how to steal our hearts…

An anniversary pastry heart from the kitchen at Sor'Eva!

An anniversary pastry heart from the kitchen at Sor’Eva!

Make it happen, take the time, relish life:

Krista & Mike's morning caffe with heart-shaped donuts...are you kidding? Amazing Italians!

Krista & Mike’s morning caffe with heart-shaped donuts…are you kidding? Amazing Italians!

Truly Finding Bliss in this Beautiful Wedding Video!

October 20th, 2015

Posting just because this is so beautiful, and we were fortunate to be a small part of this very special day for Kristeen & Luke!
Video created by Focused Bliss Productions:

 

Here’s a great still shot by True of our cake at this perfect beach affair:

Simple elegant wedding cake, True Photography

Simple elegant wedding cake, True Photography

Location/Venue: the brilliant Scripps Seaside Forum
Coordination: our beautiful ladies at Creative Affairs Inc.
Caterer: deliciously talented Chef Jeff at Terra Restaurant
Florist: Our lovely friend Kyoko at Cherry Blossom Floral Design
Cinematography: Focused Bliss Productions
Bar Service: refreshers at Giuseppe Restaurants & Fine Catering
Photography: the always true… True Photography Weddings
Rentals: Event Party Rentals
Linens: our detail-focused peeps at A Perfect Table
DJ: Brandon Weisman
Officiant: Rev. Richleigh Hale Powers
Transportation: Q-Star Charters

The WOW of Modern Luxury Metallic Cakes

October 20th, 2015

Always creating, always wanting to stay current in style…so many precious metals to add a touch of WOW!

Gorgeous brushed gold leaf on pale blush & white wedding cake

Gorgeous brushed gold leaf on pale blush & white wedding cake

Our amazing Lead Decorator Kaitlynn Regan created this masterpiece with hand-cut & gold dusted wafer feathers as well.  Coordinating this stunning setting was Ashley Mayo, owner of Adore Wedding Designs

See the beautiful feature blog post on this Wedding Insider.

Mixed metals of gold & copper bring a bit of Modern Luxury to a wedding – see this beauty that we created with CLEAN LINES for a simple elegant wedding cake. You can read the feature in Modern Luxury Brides Magazine:

Copper, gold, & silver play well together!

Copper, gold, & silver play well together!

Sweet Cheeks Baking Co. Featured in Modern Luxury Bride Magazine

Sweet Cheeks Baking Co. Featured in Modern Luxury Bride Magazine

We captured our photographer shooting the cake - hey, be nice!

We captured photographer, John Dole, shooting the cake – hey now, be nice!

 

 

Craft Beer & Pizza, Who Could Resist?

October 14th, 2015

Those crafty folks at Craft Films put together this terrific wedding video for Molly & Brendan at Hotel Del Coronado, and we were so psyched to see both of our cakes (the super elegant wedding cake AND the DEEP DISH PIZZA CAKE and BEER GLASS CAKE for Brendan…too much fun!)

Beautifully Coordinated by Paige Jensen of Bliss Events, the evening flowed with seamless grace & fabulous fun!

Deep dish PIZZA cake? And BEER cake? Eat up!

Deep dish PIZZA cake? And BEER cake? Eat up!

 

 

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