The Icing Queen

Love is sweet, and so are the cakes, pops, and candies from Warwick, Rhode Island-based baker Kerri Fusco and her team.

wedding desserts baker kerri fusco

Photograph by Jared Leeds

A confection table by Kerri Fusco is a work of art—a display of fresh flowers, paper pompoms, and tantalizing sweets as unique as the bride and groom themselves. The self-taught baker and candy maker (known to most as “Kerri Cupcake”) got her start selling chocolate-covered pretzels at craft fairs before opening her first shop, Sweet Indulgence, in Warwick, Rhode Island, in 2007. With a second location in Cranston and more than 20 employees helping turn out cupcakes, wedding cakes, and dessert tables for fetes in Boston, New York, and beyond, Fusco’s hard work has paid off. But the best reward, she says, is “making couples happy on their wedding days. That’s what I work for.

Describe your first meeting with a bride and groom.

I get to know the couple right away when I’m sitting in the consultation. I ask them who their florist is, the colors of their wedding, their venue, and the date of the wedding—that gives me an idea of who the couple is and what they’re going for.

Do couples bring photos of what they want?

My brides usually have Pinterest. I get to follow them the whole time and see where they’re at with planning. Anything that we can get is good—the more, the better, because I want to know everything about the event.

How can a couple express their personality through their desserts?

I love to see the cake match the dress, because it’s a huge part of who the bride is. If they’re going with a theme, say, “winter wonderland,” we could do snowflakes and make it very iridescent and match what they are going for in the room. There are so many different ways of pulling in your theme.

How can a bride get the most out of her baker?

The first impression is a lasting impression. You have to feel good about who you choose. I ask everybody who walks through here, “Have you gone to cake tastings anywhere else?” I encourage them to go out and try other cakes. I encourage that experience because it only comes once in a lifetime, hopefully. That’s the fun part—going out and tasting the cakes. But I always know they will be back.

When did you start doing full-scale confection tables?

It was probably a year into opening my business. A lot of people do confection displays, but ours are not your average candy tables. We paint the chocolate-covered Oreos and graham crackers by hand. We do cake pops. And themes—we’ll match your invites, we’ll match the wedding dress.

What makes for a successful dessert display?

It has a lot to do with the theme and what venue you’re in—you have to know your surroundings. Once you figure that out, you need varying heights. You have to have highs and lows and an ample amount of sweets. Everything has to be symmetrical—if you have symmetry, you’re on the path to success.

Are groom’s cakes here to stay?

We’ve been doing a lot of groom’s cakes lately. I love that it’s coming back. Groom cakes are very sculptural. We just did a submarine cake for an engineer, right down to the smallest details. Recently we had an orthodontist who got married, and the bride wanted the cake to look like gums with braces. The funniest part was that the flavor inside was red velvet.

What are some other dessert trends?

Our cake pops are definitely in demand. French macarons—there are a few bakeries that make them, but we have the largest selection to choose from on an everyday basis. And cupcakes. I think that’s a trend that will never go away. Everybody wants them on the dessert table.

How do you work with brides who have a wish list bigger than their budget?

We can scale things down. We can knock off a few of the sugar flowers—they are a lot of work. We can do fresh flowers. We try to show them corners they can cut but also have the dream they are going for.

Fondant in general: yay or nay? 

I like fondant. At our bakery, we cover the cake no earlier than the night before the wedding, so it’s not hard. When people come in to try our fondant, they say it tastes like marshmallow. It hasn’t been sitting there for a week before you crack into it.

How do you manage dietary restrictions and allergies?

It has come up a lot lately, especially with peanut allergies. We have brides come in and want a peanut butter filling and I ask them, “Do you know if anyone has a peanut allergy?” You can’t please everybody, but we try our best. We do have gluten-free options. We can do French macarons in lieu of cake.

Do couples still request the top tier of their cake, so they can freeze it and eat it on their first wedding anniversary?

I’m professionally and completely against it. I know it’s a tradition, but you have to make room for it in your freezer, and it’s never going to taste the way it tasted on your wedding day. You can come back to us in a year and order the exact same cake that you had. It’ll be fresh. It will still bring back the memory and it hasn’t been wrapped up in your freezer.

What sweets did you serve at your own wedding?

It was before I started the store. We were young and do-it-yourselfers. If I could take it back and do it again, I would have left it all to the experts. But we served cupcakes, chocolate and vanilla. We did a whole dessert table and I did a dummy wedding cake—of course I wanted that visual. We had all kinds of dessert because that’s what we were really into.

905 Warwick Ave., Warwick, RI, 401-228-7719; 2202 Broad St., Cranston, RI; mysweetindulgence.com

TIPS

Five outside-the-(cake)-box additions to a dessert table, courtesy of Kerri Fusco.

Handmade Props

A square cake plate can be turned upside down to create a pedestal. Put the cake on top and cluster the cupcakes below.

Fresh Flowers

They tie everything together and give your display wow factor.

Nostalgic Treats

The classic combination of milk and cookies is cute and great for photos.

Haute Sugar Cookies

Forgo simple circles in favor of elaborately decorated shapes—shimmery wedding dresses, for example.

Verrines

Fill these petite plastic cups with mousse or tiramisu. Pair with mini spoons for dessert on-the-go.