Icon - Arrow LeftAn icon we use to indicate a rightwards action. Icon - Arrow RightAn icon we use to indicate a leftwards action. Icon - External LinkAn icon we use to indicate a button link is external. Icon - MessageThe icon we use to represent an email action. Icon - Down ChevronUsed to indicate a dropdown. Icon - CloseUsed to indicate a close action. Icon - Dropdown ArrowUsed to indicate a dropdown. Icon - Location PinUsed to showcase a location on a map. Icon - Zoom OutUsed to indicate a zoom out action on a map. Icon - Zoom InUsed to indicate a zoom in action on a map. Icon - SearchUsed to indicate a search action. Icon - EmailUsed to indicate an emai action. Icon - FacebookFacebooks brand mark for use in social sharing icons. flipboard Icon - InstagramInstagrams brand mark for use in social sharing icons. Icon - PinterestPinterests brand mark for use in social sharing icons. Icon - TwitterTwitters brand mark for use in social sharing icons. Icon - Check MarkA check mark for checkbox buttons.
You are reading

Candy Crush: A Dutch Model Moonlights as Brooklyn’s Botanic Baker

Search

Candy Crush: A Dutch Model Moonlights as Brooklyn’s Botanic Baker

May 24, 2018

Plan B is the looming question for fashion models. Rather than joining her confreres in acting class or hoping to launch her own fashion label, Kristel van Valkenhoef of Wilhelmina New York and Elite Paris is setting her sights on a sugarcoated future.

Raised in Utrecht, in the center of Holland, she’s been modeling since she was 16 (discovered at 14, when her sister submitted her snaps to a contest, she was told to come back after high school graduation). That was more than a decade ago, and Kristel is still traveling the world—currently working for Céline and Helmut Lang, among others. But recently she’s also been moonlighting as a baker and candy maker who uses botanicals as her signature embellishment.

Kristel tells us she learned to make meringues from her mother: “She was the creative mom; baking was our way to relax together, and still is.” As for her love of growing things: “My dad comes from a long line of farmers, and I have green fingers; I think it’s a little bit in my genetics and a lot in the way I was raised.” On modeling jobs, Kristel shared her kitchen experiments, and her new venture Botanic Bakery was born. Here’s a sampling of her creations (and read on for a recipe for her floral meringues).

Photography courtesy of Botanic Bakery.

For champagne brand Dom Pérignon, Kristel created a batch of champagne-and-elderflower-infused lollipops that &#8\2\20;frame&#8\2\2\1; edible violas and gold leaf.
Above: For champagne brand Dom Pérignon, Kristel created a batch of champagne-and-elderflower-infused lollipops that “frame” edible violas and gold leaf.

So far she takes on large orders only and has received a slew of commissions from the fashion world, including Jill Stuart, Prada, The Row, and Wilhelmina Models, but Kristel says she’s happy to field all queries: “To be honest, I’m still surprised by how well my concept has been received. To be able to dedicate myself to both careers, I pretty much never sleep.” She works out of her kitchen in Brooklyn and in the commercial studio at Brooklyn Floral Delight in NYC’s East Village, a kindred-spirit operation specializing in succulent cakes and cupcakes.

Candy popsicles with pansies and gold leaf. &#8\2\20;A fun first way of experimenting with sugar is to get a Silpat mat and some sucker sticks,&#8\2\2\1; says Kristel. &#8\2\20;Boil up some sugar syrup to hard crack, pour it onto the Silpat, and add an edible flower on top.&#8\2\2\1;
Above: Candy popsicles with pansies and gold leaf. “A fun first way of experimenting with sugar is to get a Silpat mat and some sucker sticks,” says Kristel. “Boil up some sugar syrup to hard crack, pour it onto the Silpat, and add an edible flower on top.”

Pansies, violas, and roses are Kristel’s favorite culinary flowers. She grows her own indoors (hydroponically) and out—”without a doubt, violas are the easiest”—and off-season works with an organic supplier.

Crystals by Kristel. For Alejandra Alonso Rojas&#8\2\17;s spring \20\18 ready-to-wear show, van Valkenhoef came up with astonishingly real-looking geode candy in the colors of the collection.
Above: Crystals by Kristel. For Alejandra Alonso Rojas’s spring 2018 ready-to-wear show, van Valkenhoef came up with astonishingly real-looking geode candy in the colors of the collection.

She uses a butane torch, sculpting tools, tweezers, and brushes to make her creations. (Peruse YouTube for instructional videos—there are many on edible flower lollipops and even several on agate candy.) For sourcing tools, molds, and extracts, Kristel recommends online site Craftsy, and says she loves browsing the baking supply shops on Paris’s Rue de Montmartre, such as Déco Relief and Mora. Her go-to for last-minute necessities is NY Cake.

If these stone confections look familiar, perhaps that&#8\2\17;s because you&#8\2\17;ve seen them in another guise: They were inspired by Anthropologie&#8\2\17;s gold-edged Agate Coasters.
Above: If these stone confections look familiar, perhaps that’s because you’ve seen them in another guise: They were inspired by Anthropologie’s gold-edged Agate Coasters.
Kristel is as inventive with her flavorings as she is with her presentation: marshmallow rose is shown here, and two other favorite combinations are blueberry bourbon and raspberry rosé.
Above: Kristel is as inventive with her flavorings as she is with her presentation: marshmallow rose is shown here, and two other favorite combinations are blueberry bourbon and raspberry rosé.
Kristel says her Italian-style macaroons are the trickiest item in her repertoire—made even more difficult with a chocolate-dipped and gilded cherry balanced on top.
Above: Kristel says her Italian-style macaroons are the trickiest item in her repertoire—made even more difficult with a chocolate-dipped and gilded cherry balanced on top.
Pansy, viola, and rose confetti cookies.
Above: Pansy, viola, and rose confetti cookies.
Above: The confectioner with some of her key ingredients. “My dream is to have whimsical stores in places such as SoHo and Place Vendôme where people can discover my candy world.”

Feeling inspired? Below is a recipe from Kristel, and see her latest creations at @botanicbakery.

Floral Meringues

Yields 20 to 30 large meringues and up to 200 minis

These are super cute on top of cakes and cupcakes or by themselves. I usually have a batch around because they always come in handy.

Ingredients

  • 5 large egg whites
  • 1 cup and 2 tablespoons sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon floral extract, such as orange blossom, elderflower, lavender, or rose
  • Food coloring (optional—use only gel or powdered varieties; liquid-based will throw the meringue off balance)

Preheat oven to 175 degrees and line baking sheets with Silpat mats or parchment paper.

Add eggs and sugar to a clean, 100-percent-grease-free bowl in a bain-marie, and gently whisk. When sugar is dissolved, start mixing at medium speed and gradually increase to high until stiff-peak stage (you can hold your bowl upside down at this point and the meringue will not fall out).

Add in the vanilla and floral essence, and coloring if you’d like. Be careful at this stage not to over-whip!

Place the meringue in a piping bag (a Wilton M1 piping tip is ideal), and pipe on a baking sheet on top of dried violas or sprinkle on some crushed edible petals.

Dehydrate in the oven for an hour and a half to three hours (depending on the size). To prevent from cracking, let the oven cool completely before taking them out.

Here are some more straight-from-the garden recipes:

Product summary  

Have a Question or Comment About This Post?

Join the conversation

v5.0