Get to Know a Dessert Expert: The Dessertist

For some, desserts can be an important part of their event – being a focal point of the party and something for guests to admire and enjoy. Not only should desserts be beautifully presented, they should also be delicious. Desserts can be completely formed to match a theme, and no one is better at this than THE DESSERTIST. From cake pops to unique desserts, she can make anything that you could possibly think of – and if you can’t think of ideas you can count on her to come up with some! Get to know her and see some photos of her artistic creations (and try not to drool too much!):

How and why did you decide to specialize in desserts?

Sam: I have always loved baking. It’s in my blood. Growing up in a large family in the Midwest we did a lot of cooking and baking together. Our talents were kind of divided amongst the family. Some were better bakers and some were better at cooking. I picked up the baking gene when I iced my first cake at 3 years old. I had always loved to bake, it was always just a hobby and something traditional for me. It wasn’t until I moved to New York that I discovered that desserts were my passion.

I have an art degree. I used to always have a creative outlet whether it was sculpting or painting; my two favorite mediums. When I moved here I just didn’t have the room to bring my art supplies. After month of withdrawal I decided to try something new. I woke up one day and said “I’m going to make a cake for Rebecca’s birthday, and it’s going to be a cat!” We were throwing her a surprise birthday and thought it would be awesome to have a cake that looked like her cat. I did a little research, started from scratch and used my sculpting skills to mold and shape this cake into a cat. After that the rest is history and here I am today.

What is the mission of your company?

Sam: My company has a few missions. 1) Dare to make the impossible – If you can dream it, I can bake it. Nothing is too out of the box for me. I encourage people to use their imaginations when it comes to both flavor and design. It becomes an interactive experience for my clients and allows them to step outside their comfort zone and create what they thought to be the non-existent. To me, the sweet element of any event is one of the most important factors. Desserts take people to a happy place, bring out their inner child, and create a feeling of warmth and happiness within them. Seeing my clients and their guest in that sugar induced euphoric state is the best part of my job. 2) Empowerment of Fulfilling your Dream – I like to think of myself as a voice for a lot of women out there who have always had this awesome idea or thing they wanted to do and then life happened. People get that mentality that once you get married or have kids then you have to let go of your dreams. In my opinion, no you don’t, you CAN have it all. It takes work and a great support system, but it can work. I want to make a difference in the world by helping in any way I can whether it’s inspiring others to do what they want to do, or raising money for incredible charities. My desserts come with a lot of love and desire to make a difference.

Where do you get your inspiration?

Sam: I get inspiration from everywhere and everything! Foods, colors, pictures, movies, songs, smells, flavors – you name it I can make something out of it. It is so much fun to just be out in the world and see something and think “wow that would look so cool as a dessert.” I have begun to look at everything and see it for something it could be within a dessert. Edible or not, I find a way to make it work. For example: my daughter LOVES Disney Princesses and we play with her dolls a lot. While playing one day I started to stare at the dolls, their faces, their clothes and then it hit me! I then grabbed my journal and started coming up with recipes based on every Disney Princess! All the way down to the design of each. I now need to add Elsa and Anna from Frozen to the mix. It’s just so awesome having a brain that thinks so crazy sometimes.

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What do you like to know about a client before you create a dessert menu and display?

Sam: My very first question to a client is “Tell me about your event” – this is a great opening question. It allows me to get the clients inside perception of what they expect their event to be like. Typically I can figure out an entire menu just based on this one question.  I must know what the client hopes for and dreams of having. I always ask about their favorite flavors and what the best dessert was that they’ve ever tasted. I always like to catch them off guard by asking “If you can have anything turned into a dessert – what would it be” and sometimes people come up with some awesome off the wall ideas. I’ve never had a meeting with a client where we didn’t laugh most of the time. Desserts make people excited and they excite me too! I always ask about dietary restrictions and allergies, not the most fun part of the conversation but a very important one. I always want to make sure they get everything made to fit their needs.

What is your favorite dessert to make?

Sam: Wow, this is a trick question for me. I love making everything. Some more than others for sure. I guess my favorite desserts to make are the experimental ones. Basically when I take some quiet time and just start trying flavor combinations into various medias of desserts. A few weeks ago when I made my “Barnyard S’more” cookie, I was making cookies for a party my daughter was going to and figured what the heck; let me see if this works. I made a butter cookie base but added toasted cornflakes to the mix. Threw in some marshmallows and chocolate chips and BAM – the Barnyard S’more was born. I didn’t even get to take a picture of it because they were gone in 5 minutes. But, ok, I will be real here if I HAD to pick a favorite dessert it would be my families Horseshoe Cookie. It’s a secret recipe and it’s hard to make, but it makes me feel peaceful and nostalgic. Always helps when I am really missing my family and need to make some trips down memory lane.

What is the most important thing to keep in mind while designing custom desserts for events?

Sam: The client’s vision is number one. If they have something specific in mind I do whatever I can to make sure their expectations are met. I also need to factor in venue space and time frame. Last thing you want to do is include ice cream in a menu for a party being held outside in the middle of July. It just doesn’t work, so I am always conscious of where I am going and what resources I have available.

What is your top tip for current and potential clients?

Sam: Don’t overthink the desserts. Just go with what you want and what you like. “There are too many desserts”, “Gosh, I wish there weren’t so many choices” – said no one EVER. The sweet treats of the party are something everyone looks forward to, my advice is just have fun with it, let yourself be creative, and don’t hold back.

How far in advance should someone place an order?

Sam: The sooner the better. THE DESSERTIST is a custom design business and everything is made specifically for each order. Nothing is pre-made or frozen. I really believe in desserts being fresh and made with the freshest ingredients. This is part of THE DESSERTIST experience where you are getting the VIP of custom designed desserts and all of them being done by me, like your personal Dessert Chef. Because of this I don’t mass produce like larger bakeries so my availability fills up quickly. But, there have been times I have been known to do a last minute order if you are the lucky one to snatch up that free time and catch me in a very good mood.

Would you mind sharing a photo of one of your favorite dessert displays and tell us why it’s your favorite?

Sam: Sure! I can’t just share one though. I love them all because each one is so different. No two displays are ever the same. They are each like a snowflake. I love collecting new display pieces wherever I go and all of that brings the display to life. So I can’t say I have a favorite – they are all my favorite. Here are a few of my tops:

What is the best way for potential clients to get in touch with you?

Sam: The best way to get in touch with me is email: Samantha@thedessertist.com, I’m not always able to talk on the phone but I am glued to my inbox. I always suggest to my clients to follow my social media outlets. It’s a fun way to keep in touch about my dessert adventures, what I’m baking, and events I will be attending. I’m kind of a butterfly chef and I am always bopping around the city. Aside from the baking I am also have a dessert column in Beauty News NYC Magazine where I try new recipes and review desserts all over Manhattan and hopefully soon I’m going to be teaching some classes on dessert making. So yeah, the social media is honestly just fun and entertaining for people. I give viewers a glimpse into my crazy, sugar filled life!  

You can also follow THE DESSERTIST on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

THE DESSERTIST has been featured in 914NC MagazineThe PatchDoughmesstic and will be a honored Festival Featured Chef for the Fourth Annual Greenwich 2014 WINE+FOOD FESTIVAL presented by Serendipity. The Festival will take place September 25-27 at The Roger Sherman Baldwin Park in Greenwich, CT.