Cakes for a Cause This weekend marks the annual Nielsen-Massey Buttercream Ball.

By Sydney Burrows



What do cheerleaders, custom cakes and the BMA have in common? Usually, not much. But this Saturday, Icing Smiles, a local nonprofit that specializes in delicious treats, is teaming up with Baltimore Ravens Cheerleaders, Cakes 2-A-T and Nielsen-Massey Vanillas, a family-owned vanilla company, to host their annual Baltimore Buttercream Ball. The evening will be filled with tasty cocktails and delectable confections.

Icing Smiles contributes to the Baltimore community by creating custom cakes for local families who have been affected by the critical illness of a child. Relying on over generous 8,000 volunteers, they provide families with unique desserts that create a moment of escape and guarantee a sugary smile.

Tracy Quisenberry, the founder and executive director of the non-profit, turned her cake decorating hobby into a philanthropic organization when she felt a calling to contribute to society. As for her customers, Tracy says, “I have always had a passion for the plight of children with critical illness and their families. So that is the audience that I felt should be served.”

At the ball, local cake-lovers will have the opportunity to see edible pieces of art that take anywhere from several dozen to one hundred hours to create.

“When people see the cakes up close, they understand how a cake can make such a difference to a child and their family. This event gives people the opportunity to see the mission up close, almost as if they were in the position of the kids,” sasys Quisenberry.

And he cakes are far more intricate than most would expect. “People have the vision that we arrive with a sheet cake, but these ‘Sugar Artists’ really are fine artists who are professionally trained.” (At Icing Smiles, “Sugar Artists” is the name for volunteer bakers.) “They could be sculptors or painters,” she adds, “but their medium is cake. That’s the type of work that we take the most pride in.”

One of the 2017 “Sugar Artists” is local baker Jason Hisley, owner of La Cakerie and Cake Wars winner. Jason values his time baking for Icing Smiles, and is excited to share his work with others at the Buttercream Ball.

“Whether it’s a small cake for two or an elaborate design celebrating a child’s birthday, a cake is so much more than dessert,” he says. “I’m really looking forward to sharing the stories of how these cakes have helped the families of children in need of smiles. There’s never a dry eye in the place, but hearing how these cakes makes a difference is truly rewarding.”

Beth Nielsen of Nielsen-Massey Vanillas is also eager to share Icing Smiles with the Baltimore community.

“We have been long time supporters, which began when one of our chef customers told us about Icing Smiles,” she says.  “It is an opportunity to make a difference in a child’s life, as well as support bakers, cake decorators and pastry chefs across the country.”

The Buttercream Ball will be held Saturday from 7-11pm at the Baltimore Museum of Art. Tickets are available both online and at the door.

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