Have your wonder cabinet and eat it too!

I’ve been spending too much time browsing etsy lately – it’s like windowshopping, only I don’t have to go out in the dismal drizzle that is Cambridge in March. One of the wonderful, fanciful shops I found is Andie’s Specialty Sweets. It turns out that if you ever wanted to have your wonder cabinet and eat it too, YOU CAN!

edible sugar fan coral and shells – click here to see more of the shells.

sugar ferns and fiddleheads

Every once in a while I run across something that represents core, archetypal, this-is-why-I-made-the-word-up bioephemera. I can’t think of a better example than illusory leaves, shells, and insects made out of sugar and chocolate. They’re ephemeral portrayals of ephemeral nature, designed to tickle the senses, and they are simply delightful.

Yes, the time lavished on them is clearly out of proportion to the time they’ll linger on the tongue, and I haven’t tasted them in person (the reviews I’ve read are highly complimentary, FYI). But I think these old-fashioned candies would make the most beautiful wedding cake decorations I can possibly imagine. And party decorations – I have an antique lab glass cloche, and when I have more disposable income. . . maybe a sugar wonder cabinet centerpiece?

white chocolate starfish

aspen leaves

I can’t believe these nuts aren’t actual nuts:

chocolate filled candy nuts

I kind of want to just put the entire shop in this post – they also have ladybugs, butterflies, acorns, flowers, mushrooms, etc. – but I’ll stop now. Suffice it to say that if you have a high enough budget, Andie’s can help you make the most mindblowing Bouche de Noel ever.

(Click to see the original, and then zoom. I am dying here, it’s so cute.) And if Bouche de Noel isn’t your thing, can you imagine a faerie-sized gingerbread house nestled in among those ferns and mushrooms?

As I said in my post on David Imus’ map, living in an era of pervasive technology has sparked new appreciation for the old-fashioned techniques of letterpress, letter-writing, calligraphy, and photography, and for hand-crafted, artisanal incarnations of mass-market goods. To some extent, my appreciation for these sugar creations is based on the artisanal tradition they represent.

At the same time, though, Andie’s etsy store doesn’t have the same retro atmosphere as a tall, chocolate-filled glass case in an overflowing confectionary. It’s not a nostalgia-laden reproduction of what I actually ate as a child; that’s not where the charm comes from. It’s a nostalgia-laden incarnation of what I imagined as a child, refracted through an adult’s aesthetic sensibility. Andie’s sugar trifles are straight out of a crystalline Narnia winter: they’re a perfected version of what I imagined sugarplums to be, or the White Witch’s version of Turkish Delight (since I had no idea what either sugarplums or Turkish Delight were). They’re what the Mad Hatter served at his tea party. They’re marzipan crossed with the Glass Flowers. I want to put them in a glass collector’s case, and I want to gobble them up. Don’t you?

You can obtain Andie’s sugar-and-chocolate bioephemera at Andie’s Specialty Sweets on etsy. And PS: she also makes candy Scrabble tiles. I haven’t been this charmed by a childhood gamepiece since I found candy LEGO!

More: Read interviews (and see more photos) with Andie here and here.

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