Café Maroc

Tiffany and Robert had their first date at the now-closed Café Maroc restaurant in Eugene, and they wanted to recreate the Café Maroc experience for one more night at their wedding reception.  I delivered 220 cupcakes and a cutting cake to the Vet's Club in Eugene for them yesterday.  As I walked into the venue to set up the cupcake stand, I felt transported to North Africa.  Fairy lights twinkled above, lanterns glowed on the tables, deep jewel-toned dahlias enriched the centerpieces, and swathes of fabric created intimacy in the expansive ballroom.  Behind the scenes, platters of dates, hummus, pita bread and olives were being prepared as part of the Moroccan feast.  

For dessert, I divided the cupcakes into three batches, each with a different flavor and adornment.   The first batch, chocolate sponge cupcakes with natural mint buttercream, was ensconced in custom wrappers that I cut from patterned paper provided by the bride and groom.  Those cupcakes were sprinkled with edible silver sequins (made from luster-dusted fondant cut into tiny circles with a piping tip!), to mimic the sequins glittering all over the bride's stunning A-line gown.  

The second batch was pumpkin spice cake with cinnamon cream-cheese frosting, topped with an edible Moroccan medallion that echoed the old Café Maroc logo.  I moulded the toppers from gumpaste and handpainted them with bronze and gold luster.  

The third batch was the crowd-pleasing classic, vanilla sponge with vanilla buttercream. I used a spatula to shape the buttercream into a smooth dome, before applying a white-chocolate fondant disc that was embossed with a geometric print (for the task, I found a beautiful embossing mat inspired by the designs on Moroccan tiles). The topper was delicately dusted with bronze luster to highlight the embossing and give it a burnished look.

Apologies: the photos to come are pretty awful and do not do the display justice.  I snapped them in the dim candlelight, and my camera is a great point-and-shoot, but is nonetheless no SLR.  I am hoping that John, the couple's photographer, will supply me with decent pics in due course...!  Meanwhile, here's the stand I made, loaded with cupcakes:

Here's a closer look at the Vanilla cupcakes (with purple topper) and Pumpkin Spice cupcakes (with Café Maroc medallions):

This pic gives you an idea of how the Chocolate Mint cupcakes looked, with their custom wrappers and shiny sequins:

During a design consultation, I mentioned to Tiffany and Robert that it might be fun to create a replica, in cake, of the lantern they were planning to use in their centerpieces.  They were immediately receptive to the idea, despite the caveat that I had never attempted such a thing, and would probably need to make the top section out of Rice Krispie treats for structural reasons!  They lent me one of the lanterns to use as the model, and here's the cake version:

There were many more details I would've wanted to add, including black frames around the 'glass' panels in the bottom section, but there simply wasn't time (it takes many days to produce the custom wrappers, toppers, frosting and cupcake batter for 220 people in a small-scale cake studio!).  Anyway, I was pleased with the finished product!  The burnt-orange portion was lemon poppyseed cake with cream cheese frosting, covered with fondant panels that I painted with Pumpkin luster dust.  The top section is made from Rice Krispie treats that were covered in black fondant.  To mimic the cutouts on the real lantern, I painted some scrolls and other details with silver luster dust.  There are two foamcore boards inside as structural supports, one in the base and one between the cake and Rice Krispie treat sections. Here they are, the real lantern and its cake version, side by side:

It was a beautiful reception, made all the more festive by a salsa dancing lesson before the band started up. (The bride and groom are expert salsa dancers, and they and their friends pulled some amazing moves on the dancefloor last night!)  Congratulations, Tiffany and Robert!  For one night, Café Maroc certainly lived again.