Sunday, 22 January 2012

The Night Circus Cake!

Hello fellow Rêveurs! We have a special treat today. The lovely Robin Brenner has kindly given us some of her time and has shared her amazing creation, The Night Circus Cake!

the delicious looking Night Circus Cake by Robin Brenner!

So Robin, tell us a little bit about you.
Let's see!  I'm a teen librarian working near Boston, MA.  I'm a voracious consumer of stories (in all kinds of formats, from novels to movies to television to audio to comics) as well as a writer, artist, pop-culture critic, and as you can tell, amateur cake decorator.  I read about 2-3 books a week, and I zoomed through The Night Circus in a matter of days.

I do have a friend who's a pastry chef but who finds detailed decoration tiresome.  We keep joking that someday, when we're done with our current careers, we'll open a bakery where she makes everything delicious and I get to decorate everything.  Some day!

I must say it again, your Night Circus Cake looks amazing! How long did it take you to make it?
Let me see -- I figured out my plan in a few hours of doodling, and then made the modeling chocolate and the cake itself the night before.  That took around 2 hours.  Then I spent around six hours putting it all together: making the ganache, constructing the cake itself, doing the decorations on the cake, and making the figures the day it was to be served.

Is it made out of just chocolate?
It was an orange and chocolate chunk cake -- recipe from the excellent food blog, Smitten Kitchen.

I layered the cake and spackled together the top point with cherry preserves, and then frosted the whole thing with chocolate ganache (also from the Smitten Kitchen recipe, but about two times the recipe.)  I considered making the top point with chocolate molded onto a shape, but then I just decided the cake would be more tasty and more solid.

From there, the decorations and figures were all modeling chocolate (with a lollipop stick for some structure to help each stand) plus a few bits of candy.  The red vest, for example, is sliced red liquorice, and I did use a few chocolate-covered items (the "gravel" around the bottom are dark chocolate-covered pomegranate seeds, mainly because they were small...and tasty!).

Robin Brenner's delectable Celia Bowen

So... how much chocolate did you end up using?
I think...3-4lbs, total?  Including all the chocolate chunks for the cake, and for the ganache.  Happily, my mom had given me a selection of tasty chocolates for baking over the holidays, so it was perfect timing to help out my construction.  I've never loved eating white chocolate by itself, but I had gotten a 1-lb bag, so I was glad to have a reason to use it!

Where did you get the idea of making a Night Circus cake?
I like making themed cakes and cupcakes of any kind, and I love a challenge.  I particularly love the excuse parties give me (in this case, New Year's) to take on a big project.  My friends and I all once made a gingerbread manor house based on Manderley (from Rebecca), and I have been known to make a Fruits Basket cake (for my manga/anime loving teens at our library) and a Dune cake (as in Frank Herbert's Dune) for a friend's birthday party.
In this case, I knew my friends and I were planning a New Year's party, so I immediately thought -- what kind of dessert can I make?  Oooooh, now is my chance to make a Night Circus cake!  I'd read the novel recently, and the imagery is really what stuck with me, plus I love the challenge of limited color palettes (the black and white with a splash of red challenge.)  When reading the novel, I basically just yearned to GO to the Night Circus.  Having seen (and adored) Punchdrunk's Sleep No More production when it was here in Brookline, I could vividly imagine what The Night Circus could be.

the scrumptious Marco Alisdair by Robin Brenner

Was there a particular scene that inspired you?
Not really.  I decided to go with the feeling the book gave me rather than a specific scene and, of course, I knew I could make a tent with a cake, but I wasn't sure I could make the, for example, the Lovers (I wish I could!   A challenge for another day, perhaps...)

And is that your favourite scene in the book, if not, which one is?
It's hard to pick a favorite scene.  I do love the idea of the Circus itself, I think, and all of the various tents.  How fun would it be to do a cake for each?  Sigh, I wish I had the time (and the space!).

Have you done something similar before?
Here are some photos of other cake creations I've made, as mentioned above:

Fruits Basket cake:

Dune cake:

Can we expect a cake for Erin Morgenstern's second book?
It does depend on opportunity and inspiration, but we'll see!  With such a visual writing style, I can imagine it will be quite inspiring. :)

Indeed! Thank you so much for your time Robin!

Rêveurs, if you'd like to see more of Robin's The Night Circus Cake, simply click here and don't forget to tell Robin how wonderful the cake looks!

Thursday, 5 January 2012

More pins added!

Hello my fellow rêveurs! I hope you are having a fantastic new year so far.

I've been pinning on Pinterest like crazy for the past few days, if you'd like to have a look, The Night Circus board has been updated with lots more pretty pictures.

If you're interested to have an account on Pinterest, just flick me a message and I can send you an invite. Just click on the image of the pinboard above and it'll take you straight to The Night Circus board. Happy viewing! :)

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Oh the thrill!

Hello my fellow revêurs! My apologies for the lack of updates. I shall endeavor to change that in the next few days. Meanwhile, please check out my Night Circus Pinterest board, as mentioned by Erin Morgenstern on her Facebook page!

For some reason, all the pictures aren't showing when you click on the link. If you'd like to see the rest, click on one of the photos on the board. Use the little box on the top left next to the photo to navigate through the other photos.

Otherwise, if you don't want to go through every single picture but want a collage view, click on my name (Toni de Lara) and then click on '61 pins' (number may change). Unfortunately it will show you all my other non-related pins, but you'll be able to see the rest of The Night Circus ones. Thanks very much!

Friday, 28 October 2011

Fan Art Feature: SunnySerenade on deviantART

A huge thank you to Sunny who's agreed for her art to be featured here at un revêur.

Celia Bowen.
Click on the image
for a larger view.
Tell us a little bit about you.
Well, there isn't much to say about myself besides being an avid reader with an overactive imagine and hands that can't stop drawing I guess.

How did you come across The Night Circus? What made you want to read it?
I came across The Night Circus in the book store out of sheer luck. I read the summary inside the flap and instantly fell in love with it. I tend to fall in love with love stories cause love stories are the most dramatic!

Who's your favourite character and why?
My favorite characters are of course Celia and Marco because of the bond they share even though they met each other 20-25 years later and instantly knew who each other were and eventually fell in love with every single quality about them. I also love Herr Thiessen, he's is so adorable, especially with his crush on Celia. 

Poppet at the Cloud Maze.
Click on the image
for a larger view.

Can you walk us through your drawings? Tell us what was going through your mind when you drew Celia and Poppet.
Well, my drawings are rather simple. I just wanted to draw the characters as I see them in my head since most people don't know who they are, so I thought "Why not introduce them to dA (deviantART) since no one knows this book" and BOOM! Celia and Poppet appeared on dA!

Will you be working on any more drawings?

I will be trying to work on more drawings. I would love to draw Herr Thiessen and his brilliant clocks, but I hope time can permit it. College life is rather stressful when you're in a pre-medical major.

Thank you Sunny!

You can find more of Sunny's artwork on deviantART.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

My review of The Night Circus

Originally posted on onechocolatebox.

author: Erin Morgenstern
isbn: 9780385534635

When I was a toddler, my father used to sell cotton candy and multi-coloured, flavoured popcorn at circuses. So one of my earliest memories is of holding my mother’s hand on a chilly evening, as we were walking towards dad’s stall, passing by bright lights and big, yellow and red striped tents. It’s a fleeting image, like a very short video clip. Whenever I recall this, the first thing that hits me is the sense of excitement I had felt at the time - the kind of excitement that trails shivers down your spine, sets your heart racing in anticipation and leaves your lungs fit to burst with joy.

That was exactly the kind of excitement I felt while I was reading Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus. From the very first sentence, I was hooked.

“The circus arrives without warning.”

The story begins in 1873 and spans the course of 30 years, following Celia and Marco as they are raised and trained by rival magicians and culminates in “… a deadly contest, forced to test the very limits of the imagination, and of their love…”, as written on the book blurb.

The fantastic imagery had me enchanted. Morgenstern’s descriptions made the scenery nearly tangible. You can practically feel the cold from the Ice Garden, just about taste the delectable caramel drizzled popcorn, virtually see the contortionist twist herself into a glass box, all but hear the collective gasp from the crowd with every illusion described, almost smell the various heady scents from the sunken garden.

The Night Circus’s strength definitely lies in its powerful imagery. Plot-wise though, there are a few snags. For instance, more than half the book is finished by the time any romance blossoms between Marco and Celia, when several book blurbs indicate that the story is centred around their relationship with each other. Their ‘deadly contest’ is never fully explained. The story falls a little short in delivering the fierce duels it promises. There were also a lot of backwards and forwards time jumps, which I thought was unnecessary, as the story could have still flowed if chapters were rearranged carefully.

Character-wise, there seemed to be a lot of superfluous ones. The Burgess twins, Madame Padva, even one of the main supporting ones, Isobel, doesn’t seem to contribute much to the story. And there were some interesting choices, such as Bailey. He is seen in a vision by one of the main characters and is purported to play an integral role to the circus’s future, but it is written in a scene between Bailey, Celia and Marco that it could have easily been someone else. However, the antagonists are absolutely, deliciously evil. You cannot help but feel waves of hatred towards Hector Bowen, Celia’s father. Mr. A. H— is equally loathsome. Poppet, Widget and Herr Thiessen are supporting characters that you cannot help but love.

The Night Circus has more than enough charms to help you forget the aforementioned flaws. If you plan to read this book, and I highly recommend that you do, look out for the scene with the jars. It is so creative and beautiful, like the rest of the book. The minute I put down the book after reading the last page, I wanted to pick it up and read it all over again, and get lost in the world that Morgenstern has created.

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Your invitation awaits.

As I was looking for inspiration for content, I stumbled across this nifty site...

I have only played it for a few minutes and so far, I am hooked! The 'tarot' cards are a very nice touch.

It is an interactive site created by Failbetter Games. It will ask you to login via twitter or facebook. Please feel free to get in touch with me if you'd like to add me on to your list of associates.

So step right up, and enter The Night Circus!


I actually got shivers when I read the prologue. I cannot recall the last time a book elicited this much excitement from me. I feel the same about this fan site too! So pardon me if you stumble across this blog while it's still under construction. I am currently in the planning stage - blueprints everywhere with notes on top of each other... it's a shame I do not have my very own Circus Dinner. Yet.

While you're here, feedback on design and comments as well as suggestions are much appreciated at this stage. Thank you.