Disneys new film “Moana” has taken over households all over the world and I’m sure most can agree it’s a total hit with the kids and parents! When I watched the film I fell in love with all of the beautiful colours, nature and of course the MUSIC! So for this week I had a challenge on my hands which was given to me by one of my dear friends who NEVER colours within the lines! She has a unique soul and is always up for creating something bigger and better. The challenge was to create a Moana themed dessert table for Nyla’s 3rd birthday with Moana themed desserts, tropical styling and just a giant life size 3D Tamatoa cake!? So I have never created a 3D novelty cake like this but when she showed me the cake she wanted how could I say no?! Secretly I was excited as hell and so ready to take this on! As a caker, cakes can sometimes be a little repetitive and it can often put a hold on creativity, so this was definitely something i was excited about as i got to spread my wings and let the creativity flow!
The purpose of this blog post is to sum up some of the highlights of the dessert table, some tips and ideas for creating your own Moana themed table and some of my fails and triumphs. I’ll also be posting some tips for the desserts if you’re thinking of going all out Moana style! Here we go!
The first thing about styling these kind of tables is TIME! YOU NEED TIME! Of course the desserts and cake can wait till the week of, but my biggest tip of all is to start early! Buying things online can be troublesome so always try to buy things early to leave room for mistakes (buying online has its moments).
Have a plan! What route do you want to go with? Are you focusing on “ocean” vibes or are we staying on the sand? Or both? My biggest issue is wanting to do too much! But sometimes the K.I.S.S. (Keep it simple, stupid) rule applies heavily here! With such a beautiful theme like Moana its easy to get carried away with flowers, greenery, fruit, shells etc But be warned, sometimes your “plan” changes, like me, changes were made right before the guests arrived (talk about indecisive).
For me, I had to work around the CAKE as it was pretty large and took up about 40% of the table. The cake had to be the centre of attention so it was a matter of “trial and error” but it worked out in the end! Now, not everything was all unorganised, messy chaos, there was LOADS of planning. But my other tip is to let it flow! Being a tropical laid back movie, it’s important to create that organic, natural feel that adds authenticity.
So for my table, i decided to have some kind of “flow” to it by adding fabric to the table that wasn’t completely smooth to create the illusion of movement. I was lucky enough to find these gorgeous shells that were brought by my grandparents from Cyprus over 30 years ago. These huge shells added to the authentic touch that is needed, and helped stay true to the theme. I stuck to a “rustic” wooden feel with the use of crates, cake stands, wooden stumps and palettes that added to the natural look which were collected over time from previous prop sales and garage sales. Buying tropical fresh fruits and florals that will add to your colour scheme can also really make everything pop and make it authentic!
A cool tip is to use a pineapple as a flower vase! Carefully cut the top of the pineapple head and then scoop out the flesh the day before using a knife and spoon. Cut a circle at the top as a guide and then scoop away, making sure to leave a slightly thick skin on it so it doesn’t become flimsy (make sure not to scrape all the way down the bottom and leave a decent foot). I spray painted it gold and added the florals in on the day as well as fresh monstera leaves at the back to give it more height. I also matched the colours to the macarons which were made by “Macarons by Maree” as well as matched the colours to the fruit.
What I loved most about the table was that so many characters were highlighted, from the GIANT Tamatoa cake, to the gourmet caramel apples which were inspired by Te Fiti. I handmade sugar frangipanis and dusted the middle with yellow petal dust and the mini pink ones with a fuchsia petal dust. As Te Fiti has a green moss texture to her in the film, i also wanted to create the look of “moss” on the outside of the apples. I’ll be posting up a tutorial/blog about how i achieve this look so stay tuned!
Additionally, Maui and Moana were highlighted on the background as well as her adorable little pets.
Even the crazy Kakamora pirates were at the party! I actually found fresh coconuts and painted their little faces on using acrylic paint. I actally cheated and ran out of time and used fondant to add to their faces, and it worked a treat! (TIP: If youre using fondant add it when the paint is dry).
Now just because the table had so much going on, and the cake was the centrepiece the desserts didn’t lack any details! The mini tarts were beach themed with white chocolate ganache inside tinted a pale shade of blue, with pearly sugar shells and biscuit crumbs to resemble sand.
The jelly cups were inspired by my latest trip to Hawaii where i had an amazing encounter with some GIANT turtles where we got to interact with them on the shore! Such an amazing experience had to be recreated in a little dessert cup. I also made cute little chocolate turtles and had them just pulling up onto the shore! The turtles were made with milk chocolate and i used a silicone mould (TIP: if you’re planning on making a lot of these turtles buy a few moulds to save time).
I just had to add some tropical fever to these desserts so I had to make a silky smooth mango panacotta with a glittery pineapple and glittery palm tree made by “Have it Made by Leanne Marie” to just add that extra sparkle!
Not to mention those awesome volcano pyramid chocolates with a caramel interior, that oozes out just like lava!
And lastly, the cake. This cake was inspired by Ashlee Marie, with a few changes! What a cake it ended up being! I have to say the worst part was transporting this cake as it weighed over 30kgs and was roughly 24 inches in length not including the legs! The shells and treasures on his back took about 2 days to make and all in all was a great experience. I used rolkem super gold to paint his shell to give him his “shiny” look. On the areas where his claws are there is an orange and purple blended look to it and i actually used fuchsia petal dust to achieve this. You can also use an airbrush but using the dust gave me more control and a concentrated colour. I also handmade Maui’s hook because well it is the main reason for this scene! His hook was created using gum paste and i used a clay extruder to give me those thin brown strings around the hook. I used a range of interesting piping tips to give me a pattern on the hook, to which i painted these sections in an ivory food colouring to create more depth and authenticity.
Oh there are so many things you could do with this theme and this is just the tip of the ice berg! GO NUTS! COCONUTS IN FACT!
Ok, i couldn’t resist, Nyla’s mum asked me to dress as Moana so i just had too! HAPPY 3RD BIRTHDAY TO NYLA! We hope you enjoyed your Moana themed party!
More blog posts to follow about the cake and possibly some tutorials about how to make some of the desserts.
As always, I hope you are having a great week!
Love always, Nelle or Moana xox