Hawaiian Style in Ombré Turquoise Ruffles (and a Little Darth Vader)

My sweet friends Sara and Donny were married in Hawaii earlier this year, so the cake for their wedding reception in Seattle last weekend needed a touch (well, maybe more than just a 'touch') of island style. The sugar hibiscus blooms I recently posted found their home on a canvas of casually pretty ruffles, in a gradient of color from pale turquoise to mid-saturated teal. 

The flavors, too, were evocative of Hawaii: classic Vanilla-Chocolate Marble cake, layered with a floral passion fruit mousse and rich mango butter. The main cake provided 100 servings, while the groom's cake (I'll get to that later on in this post) served 30. 

The top 'shelves' of each tier were painted with sand-colored edible paint (Americolor brown, Americolor white, and a little vodka for consistency) to echo the beach setting of the couple's ceremony. The ruffles were fondant (with a little gum tragacanth added, for structural integrity), and the handcrafted sugar flowers were hibiscus, plumerias, and deep green hibiscus leaves (I used a hydrangea leaf cutter for those, actually). 

Now, we turn to the groom's cake! Sara's husband, Donny, is one of those rare, courageous souls who sails the raging seas to bring in fresh crab each season. (If you've ever watched "Deadliest Catch" on the Discovery Channel, I believe you'll have a pretty good sense of what he does.) In addition to his love of crab fishing, he has a particular fondness for Darth Vader and golf. The only logical groom's cake (all credit to his bride for the idea): a figure of Donny, in the likeness of Darth himself, holding a club and a crab, perched atop an oval abstraction of his trusty vessel, The Arctic Sea

Darth Vader, the king crab, and the golf club were all sculpted from gumpaste. There's a Styrofoam ball inside his head, to make it lighter -- I figured that Donny would probably be more inclined to preserve the figurine as a keepsake, rather than eat it!

(BTW, the particular pose of my little Sith Lord figurine was inspired by a photo that Sara shared with me, of Donny holding up two enormous Alaskan king crabs. I was a dolt last weekend and left behind the little chocolate frame I'd made to house this particular image -- the intention was to display the photo alongside the cake so that Sara and Donny's guests would get the joke. Let's just say, that frame was a casualty of my five-cake-weekend brain; thankfully, Sara forgave me instantly because she's a sweetie-pie.)

The cake, with its outer covering of ship-steel grey fondant, was dark chocolate sponge with white chocolate ganache filling, layered with rich caramel sauce and plenty of crunchy English toffee bits. The groom loves toffee!

Oh, I should also mention: this cake was entirely a surprise, and Sara and I held a couple of clandestine meetings to plan it out (never mind the fact that we love hanging out with each other anyway!). What really makes my job special is getting to see faces like Donny's, as he sees his cake for the first time, realizes that his wife has planned it all out especially for him (in secret), and discovers the little personal touches and inside-jokes, in edible form, that only the two of them would really appreciate. How wonderful is that?!

Congrats, Sara and Donny! You're the best.