Takes the cake
Explore the craft and deliciousness of Maria Tulchevska’s Art Dessert creations
The contents of one of Maria Tulchevska’s white pastry boxes are anything but vanilla. Her specialty: immaculately decorated petite mousse cakes in vibrant colors of yellow, pink and varied shades of purple, all crafted under the name Art Dessert.
The attention to detail Tulchevska devotes to her desserts is equal parts artistic and whimsical. Presented on gold pastry board, each round cake showcases the complexities of her pastry talent.
One, a bright yellow dome, bears tiny grooves comparable to the impressions left in a mini Zen garden. Another, a glossy, hot pink, heart-shaped cake, is so sleek it reflects sunlight. But, it’s the geometric-shaped cakes in the box with an array of angles and indentations that truly illustrate the stunning touches Tulchevska bakes into all of her sweets.
“The first time when you see it you say, ’Oh, wow! It’s beautiful,’ and you feel satisfaction that you’ve created all these details,” Tulchevska says of her creations. “But the most important thing is when you taste it for the first time.”
A wife, mother of twins and a former auditor in the Ukraine, Tulchevska and her family moved to California four years ago after her husband accepted a new job opportunity here. After working in a world full of numbers, she yearned for a creative outlet and says she was influenced by the likes of pastry chef Dinara Kasko, who’s known for her use of 3D printers to make elaborate silicon molds for cakes.
Tulchevska’s cake fillings, on the other hand, are inspired by French pastry chef Cédric Grolet, known for works that focus on fruit and are oftentimes shaped like the very fruit from which they’re made.
A slice down the center of one of Tulchevska’s cakes reveals the perfect ratio of mousse, fruit-filling and spongecake. The yellow dome-shaped cake is really a tempered white chocolate shell followed by a creamy passion fruit mousse, a sweet, but delicate mango filling with tender pieces of fruit, a little passion fruit puree and a fluffy spongecake finished with a bit of white chocolate.
The glossy, heart-shaped cake is filled with dark chocolate mousse made from cherry, walnut and brandy, followed by a cherry-walnut sponge. Its mouthfeel hits on all the texture notes: silky glaze, smooth mousse, crunchy walnuts and tender cherries.
Tulchevska says these artfully crafted desserts are unique to the United States because she’s yet to see Americans latch on to the trend as they did with the macaron or the cronut a few years ago.
“It’s just pure satisfaction when you create something and you can see the result. I just wanted to create something. To make something that I can see and that I can feel,” Tulchevska says. “Here in America, it’s just started. It’s like a fashion. They still don’t know that this exists.”