Candy coloured girls with flowing brown locks and polka-dot red frocks watch on as lions and zebras jump out from the depths of the jungle – this is the fantastical world derived from the imagination of Maria Lantelme. Maria’s new Melbourne-based venture, Lollipop Cakes & Cookies, creates premium, bespoke themed cakes and unique cookies that are brought to life through her exceptional skills that morph fondant into vibrant characters that are fun for the kids and transport adults back to a childhood utopia.
Lollipop Cakes & Cookies is a product of Maria’s extensive training and passion for baking and cake decorating. Maria trained at the renowned South American SugarCraft School, Ballina Institute under the guidance of Director Marta Ballina who has long been internationally recognised for her skills in cake modelling and creativity. Maria then spent three years completing her Certificate in Hospitality before working as a Pastry Chef at various institutes in Argentina and abroad. As she continued to forge her career, a key highlight came when asked to create a birthday cake for the daughter of Carlos “Gato” Dumas – pioneer of the Argentinean cuisine and restaurant scene, which spurred her desire to go out alone.
Maria came to Melbourne in 2002 and has most recently worked as the Pastry Chef at Cacao Fine Chocolates and Patisserie and later at Oyster Little Bourke. Maria still harks to home and channels the vivacious colours of Argentinean culture in her cakes – adorning them with caricatures and the items of interest or passion of the people for whom they are created. Maria enjoys the process of sitting down with each client to explore and agree on a cake that best suits them and the occasion to ensure a highly individual and personalised piece.
Alongside her cakes Maria also produces unique cookies, including the wonderful Alfajores (a cookie indigenous to her homeland) – a shortbread biscuit filled with the delicious toffee ‘Dulce de Leche’ and rolled in coconut. Maria’s decorating also extends to an array of biscuits with designs tailored for marking occasions such as weddings, births or christenings.
Maria is focused on producing items with a visual ‘wow’ factor but is of course also very particular about how they taste. “I always use the best ingredients for my cakes and cookies from the eggs, sugar and flour to the chocolate and toffee. If I put so many hours into creating a cake and it’s decoration looks amazing it would be disappointing to not have a great tasting cake under all of that!”