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I’m Just Here For Dessert

Articles from Issue 21

Caroline Khoo is living proof that you should never shy away from a creative challenge. From helping her mother in the kitchen as a young girl, to inventing enticing dishes for her two toddlers as an adult, Khoo’s treasured past experiences with cooking have influenced her lifelong passion for beautiful food and led her along a career path she’d never expected. Since its establishment in 2013, Khoo’s online desserts boutique Nectar and Stone has garnered worldwide fame, a devoted Instagram following of 400,000 and a string of notable collaborations with companies like West Elm. “Nectar and Stone is a lifestyle – the company is not just about creating desserts,” Khoo says. “It’s also about taking [people] on a delightful journey of all things feminine and stylish.” The May 2017 release of I’m Just Here For Dessert was a huge achievement for Khoo, who strove to craft a unique book that would help readers to perfect the basics of baking and cultivate a set of skills with which to confidently attempt all kinds of dessert recipes, from the common cupcake to the mighty macaron.

Easy As Pie

Much like a cake, I’m Just Here For Dessert has been designed in layers, which will guide readers on a sweet journey of mastering simplicity while steadily building on complexity. Whisking, sifting, baking, decorating and tasting your way through the book, you’ll find that skills you picked up in a previous layer will be useful later on. For example, the ‘Basic Buttercream’ you mastered in ‘Layer Two: Cupcake Journey’ will make the decadent ‘Chocolate Tower’ recipe in ‘Layer Eight: Celebration Cake Journey’ far less daunting. Inside, you’ll also come across plenty of simple tips on personalising your desserts and making them truly memorable.

From topping your caramel tarts with pretzels and pink sprinkles, to decorating your rosewater donuts with a pair of edible eyes and a dusting of crushed meringue, you’ll discover endless creative ways to spark joy among friends and family. While whipping up Khoo’s ‘Orange Bloom’ cake, hot-pink popsicles and everything in-between, not only will you master the basics of dessert design, but you’ll start to develop your own personal style.

Inspiration Is Everywhere

Khoo’s fingerprints can be found across every page of the book, which she lovingly wrote, styled and photographed herself. The beautifully curated recipes are complemented by entrancing images of immaculate table settings, bouquets of perfect roses, tarts topped with poised petals, clouds of dusted sugar and flurries of cherry blossom, as well as curly meringues and colour-drenched scenes from mesmerising city, country and beach settings. With reflective and insightful statements interspersed throughout the layers as well, the book feels at once deeply personal and wonderfully relatable. By observing the myriad sources of inspiration behind each painterly dessert, Khoo hopes readers will go forth and develop their own creative instincts, which are the key to unexpected triumphs in the kitchen. As a talented dessert photographer who knows how to faithfully translate a dessert’s story from plate to social media, Khoo has filled. I’m Just Here For Dessert with handy advice on shooting your successes, from finding the perfect angle, to capturing intricate detailing with the zoom function. Offering a taster, Khoo suggests working on lighting first and foremost. “Good natural light can dramatically change the way a photo looks, so practice during different times of day,” she says.

“Secondly, don’t be afraid to mix things up after you’ve mastered lighting. Play around with different props and see how the photo changes. “Props like tissue paper, gold spoons and flowers can each change the look and feel of a photo.” By incorporating complementary props into the scene, a story will take shape and your dessert will sing.

Favoured Flavours

Khoo has noticed a distinct trend towards ‘childhood flavours’ in the modern dessert world. “Flavours like cotton candy and musk stick are beginning to gain popularity [because they] bring memories back to people,” she says. The irresistible creations in I’m Just Here For Dessert indeed cater to a childlike adoration of colour, texture and creativity that lies within us all. While each recipe holds a special place in her heart, Khoo admits her favourite is the ‘Eeni Mini Cupcakes’. Whether topped with turquoise icing, an Oreo or a meringue kiss, they are the perfect example of dessert that brings people along a sensory journey of shared joy and delight.

Simply Perfect

Khoo had never dreamt she would one day publish her own dessert design and recipe book, but it ended up being the perfect project in which to pour her endless creative energy and love of art. “The process of creating the book was amazing and [it’s] something I would love to experience again,” she says. “It really reminded me [of] the importance of going back to basics. [It also reminded me that] less is more, and that simplicity can be just as complex as a dessert that looks complicated.” By helping you understand, learn and master the basics of baking and decorating, I’m Just Here For Dessert aims to set you on the path to discovering your own signature style. After all, the beginning is the perfect place to start.

Image Credit: Provided by the author and featured in the book