Crafts. They are lovely right? Such a great and useful hobby. Too bad I suck at it. Big time. I was always mocked as a little girl in school because my play-dough “flowers” looked more like big colorful deformed mounds. I can’t use a scissor to save my life. So I become very frustrated when I want to decorate or make bake goods prettier. I usually take the easy route and pour ganache over everything. But someone special, requires a little more effort. So for my best friend ever’s birthday I’m making the best and prettiest cake. I can’t give you much details about it yet, but this will be the first of a series of posts leading to the finished cake.
Today, I’ll make a small tutorial (I never thought I would be making a tutorial!) on chocolate decorations. I couldn’t find one I liked enough, so I’ll try my best here. Is a beautiful and incredibly easy way to turn a normal cake or cupcake into something really special and personalized. Sure, everyone tells you you can make curls, hearts, stars, letters or random pretty forms, but seriously you can make almost anything if you have a design. For instance, my best friend’s favorite animals are owls, so that’s what I’m making, as well as many different things to show you how easy (and fun!) it is. Ready? pour yourself a glass of (non-alcoholic for me, thanks) eggnog and let’s get started! :D
You need a few things. Chocolate of course. I used a variety that doesn’t need tempering and is the best thing ever. If you can find it, is very useful and helpful here. If not, there are plenty of great tutorials on tempering chocolate. I’m using dark chocolate here but use the one you like the most. Now, you need parchment paper. Quite a bit depending in your decorating needs. For basic chocolate decorating, that’s it! Only 2 things. Now, if you’re like me and drawing or designing is not your strength, you’ll want to use lovely google to find the shape or design you want and then print it. Also, some scotch tape, cause (at least for me) it always saves the day. Aaaand a scissor.
Okay, you want to have everything ready before melting the chocolate, to the first thing is to make a parchment paper cone. You could use a plastic bag, but I find the parchment paper to be stronger and more controllable. Use what you feel comfortable with. Making the cone looks DEAD easy, but me being me, spent about 5 minutes trying to find the correct way to twist it, and then having scotch tape in my mouth…I cried out of frustration (Why I can NEVER do these things?!) and asked my mommy for help…*sigh* but eventually, the second time around, did it. Here it is…
Ta dah! the uggliest cone ever! don’t make fun of it…
I followed this video but used tape to secure the ends as I was sure I would find a way to screw that up. Once you have that done, we’re going to prepare our designs to be piped. Cut a piece of parchment paper a little larger then your printed shape or design and tape them together. Again, if you’re like me, you’ll want to tape them to the table so they won’t move as you pipe the chocolate over them…
See? that was easy. Now, melt the chocolate. I use the microwave and never had any problems, just be careful with times. Make the first time very short and see how this chocolate reacts and then go from there. You don’t want it steaming hot, just melted and warm.
Pour the chocolate in your cone, but don’t fill more than half at the time. Fold your cone over itself and keep folding until almost the top of the chocolate. Hold it tight and firm but not too hard as you cut the tip off cause it will go flying everywhere (been there…)Make sure not to cut too big. It all depends on what your design is like, but remember you can always cut more, but if you go too big, you’ll have to start over. Remember, the thinner the line, the more delicate and more likely to break.
And now just, pipe! try to keep a steady hand, and with figures like these you want all the lines and/or dots to be touching, that way when you lift it up, it will be one whole piece. After you’re done piping, let it firm up at room temperature or (me, being impatient) the fridge. Sometimes, even the freezer will do it.
Just make sure you have room in the fridge for this to fit completely flat. Carefully transfer it and it will take about 2 minutes. I love when things are so fast, that way I’m not tempted to screw the whole thing before its done. Now you remove it! Most likely, the edges of the figure will lift off the paper on their own, and you just have to carefully peel it all off. If is too hard, maybe give it another minute in the fridge and try again. You can use them right away, stick them in the fridge until you need them, or if you’re just doing a tutorial, you take the pictures and melt them again to use another time.
An owl! not the prettiest, mind you, but I’m getting better! Now, I wanted this piece to be flat, but you can make your figure round-ish by placing it in a can, or for example, I do this little thing for the wings in butterflies to lift off in an angle, first, before piping, you have to fold the paper right in the middle of the body of the butterfly, like this..
And then you unfold it and pipe like you normally would. Let it set for about 30 seconds before folding it every so slightly, at the angle you want the wings to be, and place the butterfly between to objects to hold the wings up, like this…
You can also do this in the fridge, using the items there, and then really carefully peel it off the paper. I love this part, is really satisfying. Also I must tell you this is the prettiest butterfly I’ve made to date! you’re in luck! I should probabaly mention that the inspiration from all this cam from one of the most gorgeour cakes I’ve ever seen at Pores au Chocolat and the other one at Desserts for Breakfast. Such talented ladies!
Voila! a delicate and gorgeous butterfly. I assure you this makes everything pretty. I’ve considered wearing it in my head so people will like me better.
So now you see you can make pretty much anything, hearts, animals, flowers, names, even faces if you get creative enough! and most of you are probably more skilled than me at this and will wind up with prettier pieces. I will just need the owl, some trees and my best girl’s name. I think this is one of the most wonderful ways to personalize a cake and show that you care.
Sorry for the picture. Ugly, ugly, but I was running out of daylight. By the way, that’s my name, not hers.
Oh, I almost forgot, if you want some of the shapes to hold themselves up better and give them a little more dimension, you can make a base for them, by just doing this…
Let them harden and then glue the pieces together with a little more chocolate and let it harden again.
All you have to do now is put the pieces (carefully) in your cake or cupcake! They will adhere quite easily to frosting.
If while piping, the chocolate in your cone starts hardening, pop it in the microwave for about 8 – 10 seconds, that should do it, and continue with your work. If you have leftover chocolate, I like to create a little mold out of tin foil, pour it in, let it harden in the fridge and them save it with the rest of my chocolate. You can always melt again and re-use. Just discard your cone and make a new one for the best results!
But really, the most important thing to remember here is that, if I could do it, a 5 year old with ADHD can do it. And they will probably cry less. Get creative and you can make pretty much anything! And everyone likes chocolate figures.
I hope this is helpful and please feel free to ask anything, comment with feedback or even criticize! I’m here to learn from you too ;)
Have you worked with chocolate? like it? Do you have any suggestions?
Thanks! tune in tomorrow for part II!