My friend and I decided to gift ourselves a weekend getaway. We officially rang in the New Year in Boston, Massachusettes. We explored the city, indulged, and then traveled to Salem, MA to get new broomsticks. This is a child’s dream come true! I have seen ice cream sugar cones, but not like these. It’s truly adorable cones dipped in an array of flavored rice Krispy treats. Grab a cone before the next Red Sox Game! This shop is located in Bay Back Train Station.
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One of my marketing objectives for De L’or Cakery Corporation is to grow our brand organically and locally. On December 21, 2019, I will be a vendor at a Taste of the Bronx and I recently applied to be a vendor at Bronx Night Market. I am super excited to tap into the Bronx. Most of my clients are from Long Island, Queens, and Brooklyn as I use to reside in Brooklyn. For fun, I will be attending the By Faith Gala hosted by GeannasWonderCreations. Geanna is my Sugar Sister (baker friend) located in the Bronx, New York. She hosts a yearly gala that benefits a youth program in the Dominican Republic. The local cake community supports her project. She is making a significant difference in the lives of others. This is also another wonderful opportunity to connect and reconnect with other Sugar Artists.
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Recently, Eventplanner interviewed me about my entrepreneurial journey. It’s really important that people in this industry and for any industry in that manner are aware of the ups and downs of being an entrepreneur. Of course, I’ve had successful opportunities but I’ve also experienced hardships and challenges behind what appears to be a successful opportunity. I work very hard and sometimes a little too hard and that’s because I know of the positive outcomes that I am capable of achieving.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve ever faced while planning for an event and how did you overcome it?
The biggest challenge I had to overcome was having a planned event on February 16, 2019, after having surgery on January 31, 2019. My surgery date came as a surprise as I had expected it to be earlier in January however a call from the physician office changed that. I was hosting my first Valentine’s Day Sip & Decorate. This was a couples-only cake decorating workshop. Couples were invited to participate in learning the art of cake decorating while sipping on Champagne and enjoy chocolate-dipped strawberries. The attendees learned how to stack and decorate a Unicorn theme Valentine’s Day Cake. I did not want to cancel this event which would then disappoint my attendees. Additionally, I did not want this to affect my brand. I reached out to another baker and expressed to her that I wanted to collaborate with her. I offered that she can retain the profit of the tickets sold however she would just have to purchase supplies and prep her space for me. I would completely instruct the class. She agreed and the class was a success. I received support from her, her daughters, and a friend with re-organizing her space after the class.
What are 2 trends in the catering industry that you’re excited about?
I’ve always focused on using premium ingredients when it comes to my products and I am happy to learn that more consumers are willing to pay more if they can understand and see the quality in baked goods. I am also attempting to personally transition to a plant-based lifestyle. Recently, I revamped some of my recipes to include plant-based ingredients. I tried Country Crocks’ plant-based butter in my buttercream recipe and the response rate was very high. I feel that the growing awareness of food justice is going to lead us as a community into a more sustainable environment.
What is a go-to meal for a tight budget, that also leaves the attendees feeling like they’ve just eaten a gourmet meal?
This past summer, I had a bride reach out to me in need of a cake for her wedding in less than 30 days. When it comes to a wedding cake or large-scale events you want to book in a timely fashion. She was on a tight budget. I offered her a three-tier cake and three sheet cakes to serve her guests. I shared with her that she would have her beautiful cake on display to cut with her groom and that the hall can cut up the sheet cakes in the back kitchen. Her three-tier cake consisted of pineapple coconut rum and her sheet cakes were wicked Dark Chocolate and Sea Salt Caramel. Tiered cakes are labor-intensive and require more stacking, more supporting, baking, and decorating which increases costs substantially.
If you had unlimited resources, what would your dream client and event look like?
I would love to host a Sweet Saturday Fundraising Gala to fund and support De L’or Cakery Kitchen. This program is a subsidiary apprenticeship program of De L’or Cakery supporting teenage youth in foster care and from under-resourced communities to learn Sugar Artistry.
The goal is to influence youth interested in the Food Industry to seek out post-secondary education. There is over 25,000 youth in the New York City foster care system:
• 6% will earn a 2- or 4-year degree by the age of 24
• 59% of kids enter due to neglect
• 22% of kids will age out of foster care ages 12 and older
• 15% of aged out youth become homeless with little to no educational pursuits
The participants of the apprenticeship program would study under me at no cost to them. The goal is to partner with foster care programs and under-resourced schools to refer youth to our program. I envision a host of Food Network, Cooking Channel, and PBS cooking beneficiaries and attendees enjoying my desserts and supporting this fundraiser. My dream clients Melissa Viviane Jefferson and Kim Zolciak would definitely be in the house co-hosting with me.
How important are your relationships with vendors and what are some ways that you successfully cultivate and ensure good rapport?
I treat my vendors as a member of my team. In essence, we are connected and we need each other. They know my work acumen and what I stand for. Recently, one of my vendors whom I’ve supported donated products to my apprenticeship program. I’ve known the owner for over five years and I consider her a friend. I have a vendor whom I utilize for custom cake toppers. We know each other for years and took advanced cake courses together. When we are collaborating, we make sure to share as much information as possible down to every detail and maintain communication so the end results are a very happy client.
How do you handle the diverse dietary needs and requests of your clients and what is one of the most challenging requests you’ve been presented with?
Last year, I had a client reach out to me wanting a custom diabetic cake for her mother. So, I shared with my client that I’ve never done it before but that I can execute it. So, I used a whole foods diabetic cake box mix for my foundation. I used a sugar-free cool whip as a filling and vegan buttercream to hold the filling. I placed the cake in the freezer for 20 minutes and then covered the cake in fondant. The client was aware that the cake would be covered in fondant as she requested but that fondant is not sugar-free. She understood that her mother should skip eating the exterior of the cake. It was beautifully decorated and she phoned and texted me at how happy her mother was. She ordered again for mothers’ day with matching cupcakes.
What’s the most exciting thing on the horizon for you personally or professionally?
One of the most exciting things on the horizon for me is starting next week, Monday, I will be instructing my pilot apprenticeship program at Citizens School in Harlem, New York. I kickstarted a Facebook fundraiser where I was able to raise $1,000.00 to offset tools. The support was overwhelmingly positive. For a year, I will be offering this program to school for free.
On Sunday, October 27, 2019, I am hosting a New York City Sugar Artistry Meetup. This is a networking event for Cake Designers, Bakers, Sugar Artists, and food entrepreneurs to meet up, connect, eat, drink, mix, and mingle. The goal is to build connections, have fun, catch up, and learn/share techniques. I’m very excited about the two very talented Sugar Artists offering demos.
What inspired you to launch your own company in catering? How long did it take from initially having the idea of setting up and starting to attract a client base?
I started baking at the age of 10. It was in 2008/2009 I walked into a local Joann’s and saw that they were offering cake decorating classes. I said what the heck I know how to bake let’s learn how to decorate. I took all of their courses and excelled. My instructor offered me a role in teaching cake decorating for their kids’ cohorts and I agreed. It didn’t pay a lot but I loved doing it. The discounts were fabulous and I received new Wilton products for free to demo. I started posting on Facebook and an entrepreneur reached out to me and said let me show you how to make money. She put me in touch with a graphic designer and here I am after a few rebranding processes. I consider my early experiences as my learning stage. My rebranding phase has resulted in my professional era.
What’s the first event you can remember catering and how did it go?
My first fondant order was for a local elementary school in Atlanta, GA. It was another baker that reached out to me sharing that she was ill and she inquired if I could execute the order. I agreed to take the order and she said to me it does not have to be perfect it’s for kids. I recall being so nervous. I made a yellow cake with vanilla buttercream in between each layer. I covered the cake in black fondant with a red tassel hanging out of the side of the cake. I hand made the name of the school lettering incorporating the words “5th-grade class” along with a handmade apple and a pencil out of fondant. When the parent coordinators arrived at my home to pick up the cake, they looked at each other and were speechless. My initial thought was that they did not like the cake until she responded, “oh my God this is way better than I had expected. Honey, you have talent!”. Her positive response allowed me to tap into my internal power and I started testing out new recipes after that.
What are some things you wished you knew before starting your business?
Some of the things I wish I knew about was PayPal’s electronic services to invoice clients and receive payment prior to picking up. I’ve experienced hardships where clients would pay me with a personal check and have no available funds. This was lost time, labor, and materials. Recently, I decided to utilize HelloSign services to upload my contracts where clients can electronically sign for the delivery of their goods as well as pay upfront. The contracts were provided by a law firm that details what the clients are responsible for and how to go about arbitration in the event of a disagreement.
What is the most unique location that you’ve had to plan around?
In the summer of 2014, I recall catering to a client’s baby shower in Queens, NY. It was 99 degrees outside and the event was in the client’s beautiful backyard. I strongly urged the client to keep the cake inside the home until they are ready to cut it. The client and her family insisted that the cake is on display under the tent.
What sets you apart from other caterers?
My family is from Jamaica West Indies and Cuba which is reflective in my cooking and baking. I specialize in exotic flavored cupcakes such as my White Chocolate Strawberry Hibiscus cupcakes and Sea Salt Caramel Bourbon cake pops.
What kind of food are you known for and what is your favorite food?
I am known for my Wicked Dark Chocolate Cupcakes, Wicked Dark Oreo Cake Pops, and Sea Salt Bourbon Caramel Cupcakes. These are my high selling products. I love chocolate. I am a verified and diagnosed chocoholic. In terms of savory dishes, I am known for my five-cheese macaroni and cheese. I did not realize how good my recipe was until family, friends, and church patrons would often request this dish along with my caramel cheesecake. I’ve been told that my caramel cheesecake tastes like ice cream.
What types of events do you service?
De L’or Cakery services weddings, birthdays, baby showers, galas, corporate gatherings, and times where you just want to shower yourself with exotic desserts pampering your palette.
Anything else you’d like to comment on while we, have you?
For those of you that desire to become a professional Sugar Artist, you have to invest in yourself. This means investing in designers that will teach you what they know as well as taking marketing and/or business courses. Make sure that when you decide to venture in this or any other field that you do so because you love it not because of what you could possibly earn. Lastly, know your worth and work on your numbers.
I am a verified chocoholic. Webster’s Dictionary should place my profile picture under the word chocolate. I promise you there is no one else in this world that loves chocolate as much as I do. My love for chocolate is a dangerous syndrome. I doubt that Chocoholic Anonymous would decrease my usage. As a matter of fact, I would be that one participant that disrupts the group thrusting everyone into pure sweet absolution. It would be like a scene out of Confessions of a Shopaholic where Rebecca Bloomwood causes an uproar in her shopaholic’s counseling group. I can see us now rummaging Neuhaus and then over to Godiva. Ghirardelli would not let us in. I would screw up your treatment services.
For those of you not seeking solace away from chocolate, I invite you to try out this dark chocolate ganache. You can layer it between a torte cake, French toast, or pipe on cupcakes. For a Saturday morning breakfast treat, smear it on a slice of toast topped with fresh strawberries and bananas.
10.5 oz (300 g.) dark chocolate
½ cup (120ml.) heavy cream
3 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon extra-strong espresso (optional)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of salt
Place the chopped dark chocolate or dark chocolate chips in a large glass bowl with the butter. In a saucepan over medium heat, heat up the heavy cream until it comes almost to a boil. Pour the heavy cream over the chocolate and butter and let it sit for 3-4 minutes. Using a wire whisk or handheld mixer whisk together slowly adding in the vanilla, coffee, and pinch of salt. Mix well until combined and let it set a minimum of 4-5 hours or overnight.
Vegetarian Coconut cake
2 2/3 cups organic all-purpose flour
2 ¼ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
2 1/2 sticks unsalted plant-based butter room temperature (not too soft)
2 cups organic granulated sugar
3 large vegetarian fed eggs brought to room temperature (Wilcox eggs)
3 large egg yolks brought to room temperature
¾ cup Thai coconut milk
1 ½ cup of sweetened shredded coconut
1 tablespoon coconut flavored vanilla
3-9-inch cake pans
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and position a rack in the center of the oven. I like to use Pam flour baking spray to coat my baking pans. Line each baking pan with round paper parchment to protect the bottom of your baked cake.
In a mixer, combine the butter, sugar and vanilla mixing on high slowly adding in each egg at a time and then all of the egg yolks. Mix on high until its light and fluffy.
In a separate bowl, mix the baking powder, salt, and all-purpose flour to aerate evenly. This step will allow the baking powder to evenly distribute throughout your mixture which contributes to an evenly baked cake.
Gently add in the dry mixture to the wet ingredients mixing with a paddle attachment and scraping down the sides of the bowl. Slowly add in the coconut milk and scrap down the sides of the bowl. Also, bring the mixer to a halt and scrap the bottom of the bowl. If you have mixture at the bottom of the bowl that did not incorporate you need to adjust your mixer settings.
Gently fold the shredded coconut into your mixture using a spatula. Do not use the mixture attachment. If you over mix you don’t want all of your shredded coconut at the bottom of your cake. Pour your mixture evenly into the three pans and bake.
Optional: garnish with lime and toasted almonds
As I was shopping in the local supermarket, a new item caught my eye. I am in a very challenging phase of engaging in the Pescatarian lifestyle. The challenge is I am allergic to shellfish so that limits my options of protein intake so I may have to keep poultry as a once in a blue moon option along with protein shakes. Country Crock listened to its audience and came out with plant-based butter and honey I love it. Its delicious, rich, buttery, and not salty no pun intended. This is a win-win. It was on sale so I grabbed quite a few and I should’ve gone back to the supermarket to clean house. Its dairy free, plant based, and tastes superb! It does not get any better than this ladies and gentleman. So, I decided to make some buttercream with it and the reviews were very very positive. I piped my buttercream onto my gourmet cupcakes along with fresh pineapples and strawberries. It was a hit. It gets better! I used it in my milk chocolate buttercream recipe and topped it with caramel sauce and sea salt. I took these to work for my staff and colleagues. Baby! I was getting reviews for 5 days straight.
Here’s the small downfall of this plant-based butter, caramel sauce ends up breaking down the buttercream causing it to slightly liquify as its concentrated. At the same time, I was traveling via train on a hot day however the train was cool. My suggestion is to add 1 tablespoon of Meringue powder in place of 1 teaspoon of Meringue powder if you are going to use a chocolate or caramel sauce. My staff popped those cupcakes in the refrigerator to firm up and voila it was greatness.
2 sticks of country crock plant-based butter
4 cups of organic confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon of Meringue powder
2 tablespoons of organic vanilla
5 tablespoons of water (you may need more)
Table top or hand held mixer
In your mixing bowl, combine the confectioners’ sugar, one stick of butter, meringue powder, and water mixing on medium. After one minute, add in the next stick of butter and vanilla mix on high. When I make my butter cream, I usually walk away leaving the mixer on high for 5-10 minutes you will end of with a very fluffy buttercream. Use a spatula to spread on your cakes or cupcakes or add to a piping bag using Wilton tip 1M to pipe beautiful rosettes.
Biscotti with hazelnuts and almonds
I had so much fun learning how to make these fun and delicious Italian cookies. Guess what? These cookies have been traced to Prato, Italy and is Latin for biscoctus meaning double baked. I asked my Facebook followers to vote should I dip it in milk, dark, or white chocolate and almost everyone said dip it in all of the chocolate flavors and so I did. I love sipping on a sugar free hot cocoa or a cup of coffee dipping my Biscotti in for that upmost comfort feeling. You know the taste of the biscotti and coffee together melting in your mouth. It’s August….but winter is coming so start practicing this delicious recipe.
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup (120 g) melted butter
4 eggs, room temperature
150 g. raw hazelnuts
150 g. raw almonds
zest of 1 orange or lemon
Preheat your oven to 320 F or 160 C degrees. Attach your dough hook to your table top mixer or with your hand held mixer combine all of the ingredients. Your going to mix your combined ingredients and set your mixer to medium until a very soft dough forms. Transfer the dough to a work surface dusted with flour and divide it in two parts. Form each part of the dough into the shape of a log and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake for 20-30 minutes. Remove the baking sheet out of the oven and slice each loaf in multiple pieces and place them back in the oven for an additional 10-15 minutes until golden brown and dry out. If the cookies are soft place them back in the oven for an additional 5-10 minutes.
Optional: I melted some chocolate wafer in a microwave safe glass bowl and dipped the cool hardened Biscotti. I added some edible goal leaves cause i’m fancy.