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Images of night-sky and intergalactic-inspired cakes, cookies and more have been blowing up Instagram lately, but pastry chefs have noticed a steady uptick in recent years—perhaps, many guess, due to the resurgence of “Star Wars” mania.
“I can’t really say that I’d describe these type of designs as a recent trend. We’ve done a fair number of cakes with this night-sky galaxy look like this in the past, mostly for themed parties like ‘Star Wars’ or the like,” says Tyler Oakleaf, co-owner of Oakleaf Cakes Bake Shop in Boston, creators of this Northern Lights-inspired cake, which has been a popular pin on Pinterest. “This particular design just has a really beautiful meshing of colors, so people naturally gravitate toward it after they see the photos.”
“Basically when you do a ‘Star Wars’ cake, that’s going to be the background of it: in the blue-black range with stars. Then artists start thinking, what else can I do with this, to achieve this look? Or what other colors can I play with?” explained pastry chef Miranda Prince, who oversees the design and production of custom and specialty cakes for Norman Love Confections, based in Fort Meyers, Florida.
Because of how the colors run together at random under the swirl of the spatula, she adds, no two galaxy desserts can be the same, just like the stars in the sky.
“Even when using the same colors and technique, it will take on different character and have a uniqueness to it,” she says. “It will be different every time.” As the cakes are so specifically themed, “no one is ordering them on a daily basis,” she adds, but they always get a lot of attention in the case.
Bloggers have been making galaxy-inspired desserts for the past few years as well, and many of them offer great how-tos.
In search of a “semi-educational” after-school sweet a couple of years ago, Virginia baker Parrish Ritchie dreamed up this Galaxy Bark for her blog, Life With the Crust Off. It calls for star sprinkles, edible glitter and colored candy melts (available at crafts stores and other retailers; here’s a store-finder from Wilton). Making it requires little more than melting the chips and swirling the colors together. “It’s a showstopper,” Ritchie says.
After ordering some Hubble space telescope picture books, Heather Baird, author of the cookbooks “Sea Salt Sweet,” and “Sprinkle Bakes,” recently turned out this Black Velvet Nebula Cake, which the internet has been going crazy over.
She bakes white sprinkles into the black-velvet batter, creating a starry-sky effect right in the cake. On the outside, she uses painter’s sea sponges and a stiff brush to apply colored food gels and white food color (available online and at crafts stores and department stores) over ready-made black fondant exterior.
“The aesthetic is certainly a big draw,” Baird says, “but I think they also appeal to star-gazers like myself.”