Circus Cake

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Circus Cake

Circus Cake

So this is my favorite cake.  Yep, it’s really my very favorite cake (that I have made). It is even more extra special to me because I made it for my nephew’s 1st birthday!  I had been wanting to make a circus themed cake, and I had a picture of this one in my head long before I started. It all began when I found the retro chocolate molds for the animals on the cake.  The adorable elephant, monkey, and seal chocolate figurines were calling my name and crying out to be part of a fun, cheerful circus cake!

Elephant Chocolate Topper

Elephant Chocolate Topper

You may already know this about me, but I’ll say it again, I am a BIG fan of using chocolate on cakes!  Especially now that I am a mom and have to try and squeeze in cake projects here and there, being able to make chocolate figures ahead of time is unbelievably convenient.  When I saw the cute little retro elephant rocking horse chocolate mold, I knew it needed to be the center of attention on this cake!

Monkey Chocolate

Monkey Chocolate

The peanut border is a fun detail that reminds me of the circus.  I made these with some peanut butter flavored candy melts, not for the flavor, but because the color was perfect.  The yellow stars on the top tier are made of fondant using a pie crust star cutter from Williams-Sonoma.  I love their pie crust cutter sets because they are so versatile.  I end up using them for so much more than just pie crust!

Seal Chocolate

Seal Chocolate

The chocolates on the cake are pretty substantial, and I was worried that if I didn’t connect them properly they would just fall right off the cake. I whipped up a thick batch of royal icing and it held the figures on with no problems.  Royal icing is such a lifesaver!

Elephant Chocolate

Elephant Chocolate

The scalloped red and yellow vertical stripes on this cake really bring everything together and give it that big top feel.  I actually placed the vertical stripes on the cake and then cut the scallop pattern using a piece of cardstock and an x-acto knife.  I had to be careful not to cut through the base layer of yellow fondant, but this method was much easier than transferring the individually cut pieces onto the cake.

Top of Circus Cake

Top of Circus Cake

The cake drum is wrapped with yellow grosgrain ribbon and blue rick rack.  I think the rick rack adds to the retro style of this cake, and I love using it as an accent on cake bases. I always hot glue my ribbon to the cake drum.  I have tried other methods such a double stick tape, and white glue, but I really want to know it is going to stay put, and hot glue is the only reliable method I have found.  Thinking back on the making of this cake, it was one of the smoothest and easiest cake experiences I have had.  Maybe that’s why it’s my favorite cake! Once I had the cake covered in fondant, all I had to do was pop on the chocolate figures, which had been made in advance.  It doesn’t get much easier than that!

Thanks for taking a look at this cake, I hope it inspires you to try a cake with chocolate details!

 


Dapper Duck Family

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Dapper Duck Family

Dapper Duck Family

Easter is on its way, and this dapper duck family seems like the perfect something sweet for this holiday.  I love chocolate molding, and Easter is never complete without chocolate, so this is the best time of year to dust off your old chocolate molds and get to work.  I try to find unique and unusual molds, and while bunnies are the traditional choice for Easter, this duck family is so cheerful and cute, I just couldn’t resist!  Searching for chocolate molds is like looking for buried treasure;you never know where you’ll find them.  You can find good molds at specialty kitchen stores and online, but I have found some of my best molds at swap meets and yard sales.  It’s fun to hunt for molds, and you may just find a one of a kind mold that had been forgotten for years in someone’s attic.  The older molds have some fun retro designs that you just can’t find in the store.

Duck Family in Mold

Duck Family in Mold

Back of Mold

Back of Mold

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I made these ducks for my son’s 1st Easter, and I chose bright colors so he would really notice them in his basket.  This happy little duck family reminds me of ours, now that we have a little one waddling around!

Daddy Duck

Daddy Duck

Mama Duck

Mama Duck

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I used candy coating for all of the details and filling of the molds.  I really love my candy melter palette for projects like this, because I can easily keep a variety of colors warm all at once.  This speeds up the mold painting process by leaps and bounds!

Mama Duck Chocolate

Mama Duck Chocolate

The mama duck is probably my favorite; I love the pretty pink Easter bonnet! I added the eyelashes to the mama duck for extra beautification!

Duck Family

Duck Family

The only hiccup in this project was the baby’s hat.  I had mixed a custom color for the light blue using some candy coloring, and that particular chocolate ended up sticking to the mold a bit and not properly releasing.  There are too many factors to pinpoint the exact reason for this failure.  I think it was just to much liquid (candy coloring) added.  I have used candy coloring, which is an oil based coloring designed for chocolate, many times without any issue, but some times you just run into trouble! Oh well!

Ducky Easter Basket

Ducky Easter Basket

Look at this little duck family!  All dressed up and ready for an Easter party! Happy Easter!  I hope you and your family have a wonderful holiday!


Dancing Goldfish Cake

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Dancing Goldfish Cake

Dancing Goldfish Cake

This is a fun little cake I made for my mom’s birthday.  I was inspired by the goldfish chocolate mold, and couldn’t resist putting this little happy goldfish on top of a cake.  I like using chocolate figures on cakes because I can make the figures way in advance and then just pop them on the cake at the last minute.  For this particular cake, I knew I would be short on time and sleep because I had a two month old baby at home. Even though I was short on time, I wanted to make something special for my mom, so I chose this design.

Painting Chocolate Mold

Painting Details on Chocolate Mold

I have tried a lot of different methods for “painting” chocolate molds, and for fine details like these I prefer to use a candymelter palette and paint brush (one that is dedicated to food use only).  Once I found the candymelter palette, I really got excited about chocolate because it allows you to keep up to ten colors warm at the same time in the small aluminum cups attached to the palette, and for painting details, there is nothing better.  When you stop having to worry about keeping all of your chocolate melted, you find there is so much more you can do with your designs.

Painted Details Front of Mold

Painted Details Front of Mold

The basic strategy for painting chocolate molds is a layering technique where you paint all of the details first and then fill in the background color.  You need to leave a little bit of time in between layers so that the colors don’t run.  For example, I painted the black pupil of the eye first and had to let it set before applying the white part so that the two wouldn’t run. All of the colors that you see are melted candy coating (a.k.a candy melts, confectionery coating, summer coating, chocolate wafers).  Candy melts are not actual chocolate.  They have a higher melting point than chocolate, do not require tempering, and come in a variety of colors, so they are quite convenient.

Filling in the Background

Filling in the Background

Once all of the details have been painted and are dry, you are ready to fill in the mold.  For this, I use a chocolate squeeze bottle. I melt my background color, pour it into a chocolate squeeze bottle, and then fill the mold.  Make sure to tap your mold so that all of the nooks and crannies are filled in with candy coating.  Luckily, the molds are clear so you can just lift them up over your head to see if there are any gaps or bubbles.  For this goldfish, I stuck a lollipop stick in at this point since I knew I would be putting it on a cake!

Goldfish in Mold

Goldfish in Mold

This goldfish just makes me smile!  It is so cute and it reminds me a bit of Cleo, the goldfish from Pinocchio.  The pretty pink flowers and lovely bow remind me of my mom.  Once your chocolate is dry, you can flip the mold over and unmold your figure.

Unmolded Chocolate Goldfish

Unmolded Chocolate Goldfish

Once your goldfish is unmolded, you are left with a beautiful, shiny, chocolate goldfish!  Looks like the perfect cake topper to me!  This happy goldfish looks like it is dancing for joy.  I was so excited about the goldfish, I almost forgot about the cake!  For my mom’s cake I wanted the chocolate goldfish to be the focal point, so I needed something simple that would coordinate with the goldfish and not detract.

Coconut Cake

Coconut Cake

To keep things simple I frosted the cake in cream cheese frosting and decorated the sides with toasted coconut.  I love how the toasted coconut is a thousand different shades of golden brown.  I am partial to Baker’s Angel Flake Coconut, and use it whenever I can.

Dancing Goldfish Cake

Dancing Goldfish Cake

Whimsical, simple, and fun!  That is how I describe this cake.  Next time you need a cake in a hurry, think about using a chocolate cake topper.  It adds a lot of interest and detail to the cake, and can be made well in advance so you don’t have to invest a lot of time decorating at the last minute!  You may have noticed that there is a happy dancing boy goldfish as well!  Hopefully someday soon, I will be able to make a happy pair of dancing goldfish!


Haunted Forest Cupcakes

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Haunted Forest Cupcakes

Haunted Forest Cupcakes

Create a petrified forest full of spooky trees and plump pumpkins. These Haunted Forest Cupcakes are sure to please this Halloween.

Supplies

Supplies

Begin with black baking cups, haunted tree suckers, Bundt bon bon pumpkins, and a pastry bag filled with blue frosting.

Blue Frosted Cupcakes

Blue Frosted Cupcakes

Use Americolor Royal Blue gel paste to tint your frosting. Ateco tip 825 is used to pipe frosting on these cupcakes.

Cupcakes with Pumpkins & Trees

Cupcakes with Pumpkins & Trees

Add some plump little pumpkins to spice up these cupcakes.  These pumpkins are chocolate, made using our bundt bon bon mold and decorated with green royal icing.

Single Cupcake

Single Cupcake

Add your own details and decorations to these cupcakes to make them your own.  Yellow sugar pearls will add an extra splash of color and purple polka dot baking cups are also a fun choice.

Haunted Forest Cupcakes

Haunted Forest Cupcakes


Paisley Cake

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Paisley Cake

Paisley Cake

This paisley cake is something I made for my mom’s birthday. I love that the paisley chocolates that decorate this cake resemble a beautiful wrapping paper pattern.

Paisley Cake Side View

Paisley Cake Side View

This cake is covered in fondant, and the bow and pearl edging are also made of fondant. The pearl/bead edging is made using a 4mm bead mold brushed with super pearl luster dust (that is why the pearls are shiny and opalescent).

Paisley Cake Closeup

Paisley Cake Closeup

The paisley chocolates are attached to the cake with royal icing. See below for a photo journal of the making of this cake.

Leveling the cake

Leveling the cake

This cake is an 8″ square so I leveled the layers using a small cake leveler. I then cut one of the layers in half, so that there would be three layers.

Filling the cake

Filling the cake

The cake is a champagne cake with a champagne custard filling. I piped a buttercream dam around the perimeter of the cake to make sure that the filling would not ooze out. Champagne cakes used to be popular and could be found in many bakeries. I remember the classic pink champagne cake that was covered in pink chocolate curls. It was stylish and delicious!

Stacking the cake

Stacking the cake

The stacked cake is about three and three quarter inches tall. This means that once the cake is crumb coated and covered in fondant, it should be about four inches high.

Crumb coating the cake

Crumb coating the cake

Here is the crumb coated cake. Crumb coating is applying a light coat of frosting (in this case buttercream diluted with water) to cover the cake and seal in all of the crumbs. Once this crumb coat sets up, you are ready to apply your final coat of frosting or cover your cake in fondant. The crumb coat is a rough coat and does not need to be perfect. It is intended to seal in the crumbs so that your final coat will not have any crumbs or bits of cake peeking through.

Smoothing the crumb coat

Smoothing the crumb coat

If you are covering your cake in fondant, you will want your crumb coat to be smoother than if you were going to apply another layer of frosting. This is because the shape and texture of the frosting that is underneath the fondant will show, so you want to get it as smooth as possible. To do this I fill an asparagus steamer with boiling water. I then dip a large bent spatula into the water and wipe it off with a paper towel and then run the hot spatula on the sides and top of the cake to smooth.

Smoothed cake

Smoothed cake

This is the cake after I have smoothed it with a hot spatula. Don’t fuss over the frosting too much, because the fondant will cover small imperfections.

Covering the cake in fondant

Covering the cake in fondant

This is the fondant covered cake. The red silicone rolling pin is the one that I use to roll the fondant. The straight rolling pin in the background is the one that I use to roll the fondant onto and pick up to lift and place on the cake. I use the fondant smoother (right side) to smooth the fondant over the cake.

Trimming the fondant

Trimming the fondant

I use an x-acto knife to trim the fondant from the bottom of the cake.

Making fondant pearls

Making fondant pearls

For this cake, I am trimming the fondant ribbon with fondant pearls/beads. I use the 4 mm bead maker to make the strings of pearls that will be attached to the ribbon. The super pearl luster dust is brushed into the pearl mold to keep the fondant from sticking.

Adding ribbon to the paisley cake

Adding ribbon to the paisley cake

Next I begin adding the fondant ribbon and pearls to the cake. Both are attached using a tiny amount of water (painted using a fine paint brush).

Materials for paisley cake

Materials for paisley cake

Now its time to start adding the paisleys to the cake. The fondant bow is formed using rolled paper towels stuffed in the loops to keep its shape while it dries overnight.

Attaching the paisleys

Attaching the paisleys

Adding more paisleys

Adding more paisleys

Paisleys panoramic view

Paisleys panoramic view

The paisley chocolates are attached to the cake with royal icing. Royal icing is very strong and the chocolates need to be held in place for less than a minute to get set on the cake.

Dried fondant bow

Dried fondant bow

The bow has dried overnight and is now sturdy enough for the pearl trim to be applied.

Adding pearl/bead trim to the bow

Adding pearl/bead trim to the bow

The fondant pearls are attached to the ribbon by applying a very small amount of water to the ribbon using a fine tipped paint brush. The strings of pearls will stick to the surface that is covered with water, but too much water will make them fall off and can also leave marks on the fondant.

Attaching fondant pearls to the bow loops

Attaching fondant pearls to the bow loops

Attaching the pearls to the bow loops was probably the hardest part. I had some strands of pearls that I had made the night before, but found that I could not attach them to the bow loops because the curves were too much and would cause the strands to break.  I ended up making additional fresh pearls for the bow loops.

Putting the bow together

Putting the bow together

Even though the bow looked like one piece when it was drying, it is actually five different pieces. If  it was all one piece, it would be even harder to attach the pearl trim. The final five pieces were assembled on top of the cake as the final step.

Paisley Cake birds eye view

Paisley Cake birds eye view

Here is the finished cake! It was a lot of work but definitely worth it!

Paisley Cake corner

Paisley Cake corner

The paisleys with polka dots are my favorite.

Paisleys

Paisleys