As you walk into Hands on Sweets, the scent of baked goods pulls you in – deliciously sweet and beyond welcoming. You’re always greeted with a smile and from there, you get a small peek at the possibilities of what they can create, with cake designs scattered throughout their cute little shop in Tampa. You can see that there is not just one design, one color, one style — and trust us when we say there’s more options than you could ever dream of!
Husband and wife team Chef Marie and Chef Carlos have perfected the art and taste of cakes and desserts. Choose flavors and design a wedding cake, or have them create an entire desserts spread featuring multiple sweets for your guests. No matter what you choose, this sweet duo will be there to lead the way and assist in all of your wedding day dessert needs!
We asked Chef Marie, owner and pastry cheF, to give us the scoop about sweets, business and everything in between!
How long have you been in business?
Hands on Sweets was created back in 2012 when Carlos and I relocated in Tampa. We opened the doors to our studio in October 2013.
What made you want to open HoS?
When Carlos and I got married we always knew we wanted to open our custom cake shop, but it was when I lost my job that it really got us started. Carlos had been in the industry and working in Tampa for years, but for me it was all new. After getting to know both the good and bad of the custom cake shops in the area, we noticed that there was a lack of quality, consistency and in general, innovation. Having the opportunity to be a certified Pastry Chef and having access to creative minds, innovative products and techniques is what really got us inspired and gave us the green light and confidence to start our life together and become business partners as well.
What sets you apart from the rest of the Tampa area wedding cakes?
We are not only Pastry Chefs but we are artists in this amazing world of creativity. Even
though we can create anything out of sugar we are known for our clean looking cakes where
you can find very clean lines and defined edges. To us a clean “canvas” on a cake makes a
huge difference when adding details. We absolutely love hand painted cakes, which seem
simple, but it is actually very intricate and challenging. It is one of our strongest techniques.
Modern/ geometric cakes are trending more and more and it is something that we love to do.
When creating these cakes it is extremely important to work clean since a little deviation
causes the whole pattern to shift and then it could look sloppy. We always say that we are the
hybrid between a timeless classic and a modern romantic. Many designs incorporate ruffles,
amazing sugar flowers (which are handmade in house), intricate lace details and even gold leaf.
What gives you inspiration for your designs?
We are inspired from literally everything that surrounds us. We love using the bride’s dress lace
and details to recreate on the cake. Invitations with embossed detailing. Architecture is a
huge inspiration as we build cakes and details from textures and cultural details. Fashion
trends; we love learning about trending colors, textures, patterns it is so fun to mix and match
to create something completely unique. Last but not least, nature; God has created so many
things around us that we use as inspiration such as flowers, colors in blooms, animals, dirt
textures and color contrasts — it is amazing. Sometimes I even look at the sky and get inspired
(sounds cheesey, but it’s true!). The most random things can inspire us!
How long, on average, does it take for you to make a wedding cake?
This is a hard question. Normally a wedding cake will take about 8-10 hours but I will
ultimately depend on how elaborate it is. We have taken up to 70 hours on just one huge cake.
What are your tastings and consultations like?
We love tastings and consultations; most couples say that it is the best part of the wedding planning. We make it so that it is an experience. We will serve 3 cake flavors and 3 fillings as a platted dessert. We then follow to collect details and inspiration from items they have at the wedding and then we quickly sketch initial ideas. Once we have chosen flavors, finalized design and arranged setup time and concept we will then send our proposal and save the date! We absolutely love meeting with our couples and really getting to know them as much as we can. They become part of our family – one of the most gratifying parts of the job!
What has been your favorite cake you’ve created?
Oh my gosh, so hard to choose one. I think the most amazing cake we have made is the one where we handmade all the sugar flowers and had over 3,000 petals. It was elegant and timeless (pictured above). The second cake I absolutely love is our wedding cake. We made it and designed it ourselves. It was crazy hard to get married and make your own cake but it has a special place in my heart.
What are your personal favorite flavors?
I love carrot cake with nuts and cream cheese icing, the almond amaretto with raspberry butter cream, and the vanilla dulce de leche.
(Oh So Classy note: our HoS favorites include pink champagne and red velvet!!)
Where does your pricing start at?
Wedding cakes vary a lot in price as they are all custom made. Our starting price is of $6.00 per serving and then we would go up depending on difficulty and how much labor and product it will require.
Have you ever considered going on a cake/baking television show?
Yes and no! I guess it is more out of curiosity and going through the experience. I have been approached to participate in competitions but have never had the chance to participate. In the near future there might be a change of heart and we might sign up for a competition. It takes a lot to participate in a cake show, and it’s extremely stressful, but it would be amazing to actually do it. Even though we have been reluctant in the past, I think we are more comfortable now with our techniques and would be more willing to participate on a show or competition. Who knows what the future will bring!
Hands on Sweets beautiful work and deliciously artistic cakes have been featured and published in countless wedding editorials, blogs and magazines. We here at Oh So Classy love the style and taste that Hands on Sweets creates for our couples on their special day. It’s always unique and always delicious! You can keep up with the Hands on Sweets team via their Instagram, Facebook, and Wedding Wire.