During November of 2022 , I had the sheer joy of venturing into the realm of gemstone and crystal-themed decorations—an uncommon pursuit for someone entrenched in a career as a restaurant chef. It was a refreshing change-up from my routine of creating plated desserts, as I delved into the art of crafting these unique gemstone decorations for a special order.
When I received this custom order, I couldn't contain my excitement. Collaborating with my client to understand the emotions she wished to evoke through her custom desserts was an absolute joy. As a Latina, my work ethic and perspective have been beautifully shaped by my vibrant and diverse community. It's truly invaluable to me to champion businesses led by women of color.
Sacred Artistry Collab, a black owned, female owned holistic salon and spa located in Flemington, NJ, was in the final preparations for their grand opening. They were on the quest for an ideal selection of delectable treats. Given their spa philosophy, rooted in Eastern wellness practices and energy clearing, it held great significance to the client Zhane Sweeny to incorporate a subtly captivating crystal design element into her dessert menu.
We honed in on a menu spotlighting an adorable double-barrel layer cake featuring crystal-inspired embellishments and a pair of mini treats: double fudge walnut brownie bites and a vanilla bean sugar cookie intricately adorned with pastel and gold geode finishes.
For the brownies, we opted for a deeper flavor profile by incorporating a healthy
amount of espresso powder into the batter to balance the sweetness of the bites. We also decided on a fudgy as opposed to cakey variation of my signature brownie recipe which uses 67% chocolate medallions in place of cocoa powder. This chocolate swap out offers a gooey, chewy brownie bite with a much more condensed chocolate flavor profile. I love this brownie base to pair with drier red wines with berry notes. The fudgy, buttery quality of the brownie works beautifully with tannin while the cocoa content in the dark chocolate compliments berrry and stone fruits notes in the wine.
Working on this cake was an absolute delight. We wanted to make sure it highlighted Sweeny's cherished flavors, fudge, and cookies and cream. The result was a stunning six-layer devil's food cake, with each layer nestled between a rich cookies and cream filling. To achieve a well-rounded flavor profile and reduce sweetness, we opted for a Swiss meringue buttercream instead of the more traditional American frosting. The more neutral flavor imparted by the swiss meringue in this type of frosting achieves two main things: 1.)a lighter and smoother frosting which isn't as greasy or stiff as a traditional buttercream 2.) a less sweet flavor profile which allows every other flavor note to come through much more effectively in the finished product. I wrapped up this cake with gold luster dust accents to mimic the ring of gold that borders geodes and a raw frosting edge to achieve a more organic texture, lending itself further to the stone theme.
The Sugar Cookies were my favorite menu item to execute. I hand painted the marble effect atop the cookie by diluting my dye in vanilla rum and used a water color brush to soften the appearance of each stroke on the crunchy gum paste cookie toppers.
Wrapping up this gemstone-themed custom order for Sacred Artistry Collab truly felt like the sweetest way to conclude the Salon's grand opening celebration. Owner Zhane Sweeny couldn't have been happier with the result. To explore their exceptional portfolio and discover the array of holistic treatments offered, I invite you to visit their website . With an all-female staff brimming with incredible talent, you're in for an exceptional experience.