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Little Miss Perfect: Kara's Couture Cakes

Little Miss Perfect: Kara's Couture Cakes

In celebration of the release of my newest cake stand, the Little Miss Perfect, I asked some of my favorite Miss Perfect cake bakers to show off their sugar art and here is the next sweet surprise. Check out this bright beauty called Chocolate Reflections by Kara Andretta of Kara's Couture Cakes:

Kara's Couture Cakes Cake Stands

I absolutely adore the colorful design of this cake design both for its modern approach and because it's made with one of my favorite flavors, chocolate! Just as fun as the design is the personality of the baker, the talented Kara is a food science nerd, Food Network Veteran, CIA grad, and head shenaniganizer at Kara's Couture Cakes. Here's the lowdown on her masterful creation:

Chocolate has been my muse lately. I think it’s far underused in the cake world for decoration and as we push other edible décor to its limits, chocolate has not yet been widely challenged. I find my inspiration from world-class party chefs and confectioners, watching what they do to find ways to incorporate fine chocolate artistry into a cake.

This cake is wrapped fully in Cacao Barry chocolate with colored cocoa butter. Perfectly tempered chocolate glistens and reflects light and images much like a mirror. It’s a fussy critter, chocolate, because slight temperature differences and agitation can change the final result from shiny to matte and dull.

Using a tempering machine takes much of the effort and guesswork out of tempering chocolate. Acetate sheets are cut to the hight and circumference of the cake tiers and then covered evenly with tempered chocolate. They are then lifted from the chocolate mass to wrap around the cake. The acetate is left with the chocolate while the chocolate sets and contracts – this is when the shine sets. The chocolate gradually pulls away from the acetate as it contracts. Polycarbonate molds make perfect hemisphere bonbons that are attached to the chocolate wrap using a mini vacuum to pick them up without melting the chocolate or damaging the shine. Rolling a piece of acetate covered in tempered chocolate and allowing it to set will create curled shards when opened and unrolled.

So many people in the US are still opposed to fondant finishes and chocolate, perfectly tempered and glistening, is a delicious, artistic, masterful way to cover a cake. Bonus that it’s delicious, too!

 Kara's Couture Cakes Cake Stands  Kara's Couture Cakes Cake Stands

What was your biggest challenge in making the cake?
The biggest challenge was the patience it required to allow chocolate to do what chocolate must do. Melting only to a certain temperature (to avoid burning); bringing it back down to a properly seeded temperature and not too low (to avoid over crystallization making it too thick to use); not overworking the sheeted chocolate so that it would retain its shine and delicately thin but strong structure; allowing the time for it to perfectly crystalize and contract, creating its shine and snap as well as temperature resistance; and handling it ever so carefully so not to smudge or damage the chocolate tiers. It was like asking the bull in a china shop to move a display case from one side to the other and not break a thing. I'm that bull. LOL!

How much of the tempered chocolate did you “taste-test" while making the cake? 
I don't taste much of it at all. I'm working with Cacao Barry, a Callebaut brand, and I know that chocolate a little too well in the first place...my hips can tell the tale better. And much of what you see is white chocolate based with colored cocoa butter so I was able to stay away from my typical quality control. Milk chocolate is my bestie.

How do feel the cake and cake stand work together?
The cake was created to be a companion to the simple elegance of the stand. Sometimes tall cakes just feel too tall and look visually unstable on much taller stands. I wanted this cake to feel anchored, stable, structural and boldly certain in both it's design and presentation. A shorter stand not only complimented it but allowed the cake to sing and not feel like the stand was competing for attention. They make a complete presentation, each dancing beautifully with the other.

Kara's Couture Cakes Cake Stands Kara's Couture Cakes Cake Stands Kara's Couture Cakes Cake Stands

If you could direct the next big trend in wedding cakes, what would it be and why? 
Chocolate. Chocolate in all of its glory and abilities from molded, poured, sculpted, wrapped...I have many more ideas and this is the second of my chocolate series of cakes. It's so versatile from both a novelty style cake (see my Cogsworth cake) to clearly stunning and elegant and bold like this Chocolate Reflections cake. There is so much inspiration to be had from pastry chefs and confectioners in how they use it as edible adornments, expertly filled and flavored bonbons, and stunning showpieces. It may be temperamental, but so is fondant and buttercream. Chocolate is ready to take its place in cake design. Keep watching, I have some amazing chocolate cake designs coming, including exclusive access to something...well, new.
Kara's Couture Cakes Cake Stands

Which baking tool could you not live without?
My small offset spatula. A little 4-inch blade offset is able to do so many basic things, it's like an extension of my hand with cooler functions than my fingers. I have multiples, and will happily accept gifts of many more! Is that reasonable? That might not be reasonable...but I hate doing dishes, sooo...

If someone is interested in having you make a cake, what is the best way to contact you?
They would have to marry into the family. :) I only make cakes for close friends and family now as I spend my time learning new techniques to teach cakers around the globe. I can make the world far sweeter with my skills by sharing them with thousands of cakers who serve hundreds of clients each year. I'm the guinea pig, they are the cake dealers. And I wouldn't have it any other way.

Kara's Couture Cakes

wedding cake stand
I designed the Little Miss Perfect cake stand to be a sleek, compact display that packs a punch. The curve of the base and flat top plate offers a welcoming spot for your sugary delights and large multi-tiered cakes. For added versatility, the Little Miss Perfect is a complementary match to the Picture Perfect cake stand so you can group them together or use it as a stand-alone cake stand.

The Little Miss Perfect is made of carbon steel and can easily support the weight of large, heavy cakes. It's available now in sizes 12 inch & 14 inch, and in colors white, gold and (new!) navy blue.

Little Miss Perfect Cake Stands

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