Think of an alchemist and my mind conjures an image of an aloof, wise old man with a long beard and Roman nose. In ancient times, people believed these forerunners of modern chemistry could miraculously turn or transmute base metals into gold. They were wizards, of sorts.
Last December I donated to an annual fund promoted by a community of travel bloggers. Passports with Purpose takes small donations and turns them into global gems. The 2009 goal was no small fete: construction of a school in Cambodia. And, almost like magic, they hit and surpassed the mark, adding a silver lining of a school nurse, clean water and at least one complete meal a day.
To encourage contributions, the bloggers offered prizes supplied by benevolent businesses and generous friends. Each ten dollar addition gave the contributor a chance to win hotel lodging, restaurant certificates and hand crafted items. Much to my surprise and delight, I won a cake, valued at $500, from Cake Alchemy, a legendary New York confectionery.
Cake Alchemy’s enchanted creations appear on TV shows like Amazing Wedding Cakes and a Food Network Challenge. Their website boasts celebrity purchasers. So, imagine my thrill of winning the golden ticket for an edible work of art.
Now, I needed to prestidigitate an occasion to serve it!
As I looked toward dates in 2010, I considered my husband’s and my own 60th birthday, but those were milestones we’d both rather forget! We would, however, host the first ever Camp Lander around the 4th of July; a time to gather all the grown children and the five grandchildren at a rental beach house. Yes, this family reunion deserved the honor of a celebration cake.
I envisioned five little children as cake-top decorations, instead of a bride and groom or flowers. Then, I inquired and discovered each hand-made edible sculpture was too pricey. Therefore, I requested one child playing in the sand and aqua colored frosting to represent the ocean.
Next hurdle? Could this cake be shipped from New York to Florida in the summer heat? Hocus-pocus. The Cake Alchemy chefs put a spell on the shipment and I’m thrilled to report the FedEx man presented me with the much anticipated box of deliciousness on the scheduled delivery date. The masterpiece arrived intact.
I immediately, but carefully, opened the container and found another carton cradled in bubble wrap and cold packs. I lifted the inner box. Whoa. This was one heavy cake! I unwound yards of saran wrap and discovered a large round cake swathed in swirling peacock blue icing. An adorable little girl sat with a pail and shovel on a sand pile off to one side. I believe she was made from marzipan and the beach created from a mixture of raw demerara and brown sugar.
My family decided the time was right to celebrate my birthday, albeit early . Therefore, the Camp Lander cake became my birthday cake as well.
Sparklers were added, which, of course I could not blow them out– but tried. I cut through the blue fondant and revealed a thin layer of luscious butter cream and multiple tiers of white cake separated by inch high stacks of mocha butter cream. Both the cake and the fillings tasted decadently rich and divine, like diving into chocolate mousse enveloped by a prize-winning shortcake. The high butter content caused the dark mocha to melt on the tongue with insane satisfaction.
And, the spell continued as the cake kept well in the refrigerator for many days and multiple treats. Indeed the chemists at Cake Alchemy can turn an ordinary cake into gold. It’s no illusion, they have the sorcerer’s touch.
Thank you for this extraordinary cake and experience: