Chocolate Magic with Karen Portaleo at Cake International

This is the official photogallery from the last “Chocolate Magic” with Karen Portaleo, Cake Artist as guest artist at Cake International. Sponsored by Callebaut, Saracino, Magic Colours and

The most of the pics are from my camera and Nicola Keysselitz (who always does great pics of my features), some great ones are from Official CI Photographer Robby Dee Photography (he always makes awesome pics of the show too).

Karen and I planned this really ambitious display for our feature at Cake International since May but all of it was produced in the last two weeks. Karen came with the snail, the crowd and the armadillo Atlanta. The awesome snail came sadly too damaged so she had to spend time repairing it, but at the end it was gorgeous (and one of my favorite pieces from the feature). She made her awesome witch, warthog and all its amazing details during a stay in Snowdonia where we’ve been together since the Wednesday of the week before the show at the fabulous Llety Betws owned by the kind and caring Melanie Underwood who closed it for us to work comfortable all this time.

We had last minute issues regarding the dummies providing, but we found that were interested in sponsoring us and granted us all the polystyrene we needed, but raw due to the short time notice, which made me have to spend two days carving it with a chain saw in Melanie’s lovely garden which won’t get recovered soon.

I arrived to Llety Betws Monday night willing to prepare all the materials and tools and start working in my pieces as I hadn’t the time before but due to these issues and some others, couldnt start my work until Karen’s arrival. So, I had basically a week to carve all the dummies, prepare ganache, bonbons, wrenches, leaves, toadsters, owl, bush with eyes, hedgehog, some decorations for the whole display and my cake structure.

We filled two vans with all and drove to the NEC on Wednesday morning. Unloaded on Wednesday afternoon and did the basic setting up on Thursday which included a crazy amount of dummies ganaching, and the main setting of the stand with great helpers along the weekend (thanks to Gillian Sturgess, Nicola Keysselitz, Adriana Rivera, Zoe Burmester, Dominique Justine Ballard, Laura Dodimead and her husband, Corinna Maguire, Kay Gajra and many others).

We worked restlessly to compensate the delay caused by the issues and try to come to a final result, even i wasnt perfect. The main detailing work for our main cakes and the finishing details of the display were made on Saturday and Sunday as on Friday Karen was teaching and I was judging.

We used in this display nearly 300 kg of chocolate and chocolate decorations from Callebaut, 200 kg of modelling chocolate and 100 of sugarpaste from Saracino, a crazy amount of colour and dummies from Magic Colours and and around 300 h of restless work from Karen, me and our awesome helpers. Such an intensive work.

The cake on our display was the bust of my feminine forest spirit made completely live at the show in about 10 hours, some chocolate bonbons spread all over the display, the owl, the bush and the hedgehog were 100% tempered chocolate pieces with some modelling chocolate decorations. The toadsters were made of tempered chocolate except the base and the biggest one which was a covered dummie. The trees, hills and rocks were ganached dummies and Karen’s pieces were dummies covered with modelling chocolate and fondant.

We finished the display around 3 pm on Sunday and shared all the cake, bonbons and chocolate with the public at the show. Love to see all the happy faces.

I’m a bit sad about again not having a minute to share with most of my cake friends as the pressure to finish this was high. But so happy to get this done with the incredible Karen which worked so hard and showed once again her talent from out of this world, she really creates magic.

I already miss Karen and all my lovely cake friends. #dreamscometrue #hardworkpaysback and even that, nearly killed us #wedidit and created the most amazing #chocolatemagic display ever. Couldn’t believe that I’ve pushed Karen Marie Portaleo to work restless day and night, and she did the same for me.
Karen is the most compromised and hard worker artist I’ve ever met, its not a surprise that she is our most beloved cake hero. These two weeks with her, though hard due to some issues we had to face about materials and tight timing, have been one of the most exciting and incredible time of my whole life. There’s a crazy amount of skills one can learn besides such a strong person and talented artist like her.

Also I feel so grateful to Melanie Underwood , event manager of @thecakeshows the beyond incredible help and support with this feature production, and of course to the Cake International family, cause that’s how it feels, especially to the lovely Bethan who is currently keeping and taking care of some pieces from our display. Thanks of course to our sponsors @saracinodolci @magic.colours.inside @callebautchocolate for their wonderful products.

I’ll keep on adding process pics to this gallery in the next days and possibly a process video ;) with time. I hope you like it.

Supplies: callebaut chocolate saracino magic colours

Tags: chocolate magic

Daniel Diéguez Cake Artist


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Iva Halacheva ...

This is incredible!

Sweet Dreams by Heba ...

Wow, this one might be your best work to date IMO, Daniel, and what an INCREDIBLE display it is… I don’t think Melanie minds it too much :) CONGRATULATIONS to all involved in creating it and making it come to life :) xx

MOLI Cakes ...

Wow, wow, wow !!! Amazing piece !!!

MsGF ...

Wow! Incredible as always! :-)

Goreti ...

Amazing as always

Calli Creations ...

This was without doubt, the talk of the show!!! Remarkable artistry of the highest order, you both complimented each other perfectly and the unison of works fused together with such magical charm and fluidity… Jaw dropping..every tiny aspect a vision of art and for me an inspiration overload… It gave me goosebumps on my goosebumps!!! 😍😍😍 Love you Daniel.. you are a huge inspiration to us all. Pinned to CI exhibition. 😍

Daniel Diéguez ...

Aw!! You are so adorable <3 Thank you so much!!

CakeHeaven by Marlene ...

Just out of the world!

June ("Clarky's Cakes") ...

Wowsers..would have loved to have seen this amazing creation in person. Absolutely wonderful.

Pepper Posh - Carla Rodrigues ...

Out of this world! One of the highest moments at CI! Congratulations!

Sandra Smiley ...

A staggering, magnificent accomplishment! Huge congrats to you, Daniel, and Karen for once again creating magic with chocolate!

Cupcakes2Delite ...

Absolutely incredible work, gorgeous characters and amazing detail. Thank you for sharing this sugar artwork in your photos for all the cake artists who couldn’t travel to the show! Congratulations on such a beautiful work of art!

Lallacakes ...

Wooooooooooow!!!! Breathtaking!!!👏👏👏♥️♥️♥️✨✨✨✨✨

Olina Wolfs ...

Incredible work, fantastic!!!

Magda's Cakes (Magda Pietkiewicz) ...


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Chocolate Magic with Karen Portaleo at Cake International