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Tuesday
Jul222008

Batter Chatter: Interview with Melissa Cohen of Metal Sugar

Metalsugar
Do cupcakes go to heaven after they're eaten? Are they up somewhere, hanging out on cotton candy clouds, looking down at us? 

Well, if they are, they'd be happy to see themselves memorialized on the fantastically sweet jewelry made by Metal Sugar Designs. Owner Melissa Cohen's love of all things sweet and cute certainly shows in her jewelry line, which cupcakes and little anthropomorphic characters play a prominent role. We recently got to talk shop with Melissa; here's what we learned about seeking one's calling, the best cupcakes in New York--and we even got a prized recipe (see bottom):

Cakespy: Can you tell us a little bit about how Metal Sugar came to be?
Melissa Cohen: About two years ago, I found myself in panic mode. I was utterly lost and working in Corporate America, feeling somewhat hopeless about the future and what I wanted to do with my life. I felt like I should KNOW where I was going and what I was doing, but I didn't. I have always thought of myself as a creative person, but I didn't necessarily have an artistic talent, and I really wanted one. I thought about taking some art classes for years and never did, but once I was in freak out mode, it was time to get creative. So, I signed myself up for a jewelry course in the summer of '06, hoping that this would get me in the right direction. I was determined to change the course of my life and discover something I could be passionate about. Shortly after the class started, I made my very first ring (the Puff-Puff). I fell in love with metalsmithing right then and there! I became obsessed and finally got to feel what it was like to be totally passionate about something. I found what I was good at and what could hopefully end up being my full-time hobby/career. Two years later, I'm still obsessed, still passionate about making jewelry, and even more excited about [the] future!

SprinklesBaby Cupcakes at Cupcake Royale
CS: Your designs are very eclectic, but cupcakes in particular seem to make a few appearances in your line. What is it about cupcakes?
MC: Ever since I was little, my mom and I would bake cupcakes in a variety of colors and flavors, topped with delicious cream cheese icing and plenty of rainbow sprinkles. Nothing was better than a warm cupcake out of the oven! As I grew older, this love just got stronger and I found myself making cupcakes anytime I entertained guests. As an homage to my favorite dessert, I decided to make the Cupcake Signet Ring (pictured top). After that, Cuppington was born.

Metal Sugar PendantCS: Can you tell us a bit more about the Cuppington pendant? We know there's got to be a story behind that smiling little face (left).
MC: I never quite broke out of that phase of loving Japanese toys and candies from childhood; "Kawaii", as they say. I love anthropomorphic things - inanimate objects with happy faces. I don't know what it is, but I just can't handle it! Cuppington was made after I got a tattoo of a smiling cupcake with my best friends. I knew then that he needed to be part of my jewelry collection.

CS: What are some of your most popular designs?
MC: The Cupcake Signet Ring, Cuppington, the Amoeba-ish Necklace, my Serious Business Ties, and my Bar rings - those are hot right now. I just started making tiny tiny duckie jewelry, too.

CS: You currently live in Brooklyn but hail from Georgia. What baked goods or desserts do you miss from the South?
MC: Being a southern gal, I grew up eating pralines: a Savannah specialty made from brown sugar, cream, and pecans. 

CS: What have been some of your favorite NYC baked good / dessert finds?
MC: I was on the cupcake hunt for almost a year, trying every cupcake in every bakery around NYC. Surprisingly, I never found one that was better than my ole Betty Crocker cake mix with sprinkles. That is, until I met the ladies of Lux Sugar! This wonderful group of bakers make the yummiest, moistest cakes and cupcakes you'll find! Once I had their strawberry cupcake, the hunt was over! Check them out, seriously! Other than that, the Crème Brûlée' at Dumont in Williamsburg is amazing!

CS: What type of sweets hold a special place in your heart?
MC: Cupcakes are definitely my favorite, but a close second is my Mom's Chocolate Delight! (Recipe below).


CS: If interested, how and where can people buy your work?
MC: You can find me on metalsugar.com or on Etsy, as well as various other sites. Because I do custom pieces, I love being contacted through my site. I also LOVE having people check out my jewelry in person, so I try to sell at craft fairs or flea markets in the area often. I'm working on getting into blogging about my work, but I'm not quite there yet-stay tuned!

CS: Any advice for budding jewelry designers or small business owners? Things you wish you knew when you were just starting out?
MC: I'm still fairly new at all of this, but my advice is to take classes. Try something you've been curious about. Explore something new! It changed my life in every possible way. I went from worrying about what I was going to do with my life to being excited about where my creativity could take me. I wish I had known that I had talent sooner, but it's never too late!

CS: What's next for Metal Sugar?
MC: To be honest, I don't really know...You never know with Metal Sugar! One day it's a poop ring and the next it's a classic design that your mother would wear :-) Keep checking my site for the many surprises to come!

Melissa's Mom's Chocolate Delight

Crust: 
  • 1 C all purpose flour
  • 1 stick butter, melted
  • 3/4 C chopped pecans

    Mix together, pat into 13x9x2 glass pan; Bake at 300* -30 min; let cool.

Middle Layer: 
  • 1 C Cool whip
  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 1 C conf. sugar(powdered sugar)

    Mix together, pour over crust.
Top layer:
  • 1 small inst. van. pudding 
  • 1 small inst. choc. pudding
  • 3c. milk
Mix with spoon or whisk to thicken.
Pour over cream cheese mixture.

Top with cool whip.

NOTES: 
  • Good idea to purchase the 12 oz size cool whip (Any brand)
  • I prefer the choc fudge flavor pudding and any strength milk will work, from whole milk to 1%. I haven't used skim, but it probably will work, just use a little less.


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