Since moving to Southwest Florida three years ago, Cindy DeLeone has become more interested in beachcombing. She lives only a few miles from Sanibel Island, the location of her favorite beaches. “I once found a piece of sponge with an urchin attached,” says Cindy. “I had no idea what it was when I found it, but I kept it because I found it interesting and beautiful. The beach provides so many fascinating things to explore.“
Cindy uses inspiration from items she finds on the beach in her work for her cupcake company, Delectable by Design. Requests come in weekly for under-the-sea, mermaid, shell, and tropical flower designs. “When I look at things in nature, I wonder how I can transform them into buttercream art on cupcakes,” Cindy says. She tries to create her botanical designs as realistic as possible.
Cindy is a self-taught culinary artist. She has always been passionate about cooking and baking: Cindy started cake decorating when she was in her twenties. Formerly a graphic designer, she designed wedding and Mitzvah invitations for most of her career. Her love of color and design carries over into everything she bakes—and the taste of her creations is as important as how they look. Everything she makes is done in small batches, using only the finest, natural ingredients.
After baking the cupcakes, Cindy carefully decorates them with buttercream icing using different piping tips. She sculpts her shell designs from gum paste and hand paints them with edible paint. For sea glass, Cindy hand dyes rock candy to mimic the variety of colors she finds on the beach. “I love creating sea art on cupcakes.”
“There are so many treasures to be found in Southwest Florida. I am so blessed to be living close to Fort Myers Beach, Sanibel, Captiva, and Marco Island,” Cindy says. “If I had to choose one favorite location, I would probably choose Sanibel, the seashell capital of the world. It’s a beautiful, quaint, quiet island that reminds me of what Florida must have been like decades ago.”
Cindy’s favorite places to take her guests when they visit are the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge and Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum, both located on Sanibel Island. She and her family enjoy dining at Fresh Catch Bistro on Fort Myers Beach and The Mucky Duck on Captiva Island—places she goes to catch a great view of the sunset along with some good food.
See more of Cindy’s delicious, delightful, edible art at delectablebydesign.com.
This article appeared in the Beachcombing Magazine May/June 2021 issue.