One of the easiest ways to dress up a cake is to make a chocolate lace collar around it. I always felt intimidated by it and didn’t try it for a long time. My first trial in Chennai resulted in a semi broken collar. I had let the chocolate set for a long time and so it lost the malleability to go around the cake. It broke in places and resulted in some gaps in the design, thankfully no one commented on those (except me who kept point it out, of course!).
Ideally you should be tempering the chocolate for making the lace, but I have been lucky to get away with out tempering multiple times now. All you have to make sure is that the cake is refrigerated until the time of serving.
The next time was after long wait. I followed the dosa/ pancake way this time. When you are pouring the pancake batter onto the pan, its in liquid state. Soon the liquid vaporizes and it starts to set a bit, though it still is a little wet on top. At this point, you can get the spatula under it for flipping and the pancake will bend to your will. That’s what we are looking for. The fine line between fluid and solid state.
The chocolate is in a fluid state when we are doing the pattern. It has to solidify a bit, but it should not be so hard that it is not malleable any more.If it hardens, then it will lose the flexibility to bend when we apply it against the round shaped cake. So it needs to go into the fridge for a minute or two until it just stops being a fluid.
You need to keep a sharp eye on the time here. A minute more and you will have rock solid chocolate which will not bend around the curved sides of the cake. Result : Broken lace!
I have tried making smaller patterns. Like hearts with patterns inside it. You can pipe hearts or any pattern you like and let it set completely. You don’t have to worry about the flexibility, because its a single piece and doesn’t have to go around the cake. It will be a series of single pieces. You can freeze them for using later.
You can go through the pictorial below for step wise pictures. Please keep in mind that I am far away from perfecting this art. The height or patterns in the collar are not even. The patterns are very basic (O’s and 8’s is what I mostly do), but I feel that even the most simple pattern brightens up the cake a lot.
Another major plus point is that you don’t have to worry about the cake’s frosting. The finish needn’t be perfect at all. You can cover up pretty much all flaws when the collar goes all around it. If the buttercream finish is really bad, you can melt some chocolate and simply spread it evenly on the wax paper. That would give a solid chocolate collar with no pattern, but will look stunning at the same time.
Since its chocolate, it can be used over buttercream, fresh cream and all other kind of frosting. No limits there. So lets get melting some chocolate!
- Parchment/wax paper
- ziploc/piping bag
- Frosted cake
Measure of parchment paper against the sides of the cake pan used. I prefer two shorter sheets against one long sheet. That makes it easy to handle and to fit in the fridge as well. My fridge is not wide enough to keep the longer collar. Make sure you have a little extra than the exact circumference.
Keep the parchment papers ready. Line them in a tray or silicone liners for easy moving and handling. Free some space in the fridge for this to go before you begin.
Take about 1.5 cups of chocolate in a bowl or a microwave safe piping bag/ziploc. Microwave in 30 second bursts until all the chocolate has melted. You will have to take it out in between and press with your hands to help the spread the heat and melt the chocolate evenly.
All melted and no lumps. (This is the first time I am using a piping bag for melting, I prefer the bowl better I think. Its easier to mix in between and handle it on the whole.). Now snip a small cut at the end for the chocolate to come out.
Make your design (simple looping ‘O’s here, I am no Da Vinci :D). If you are artistic, there is a lot you can do here. If you are not, you can keep the parchment over print out of some designs and follow that for piping.
All looped and ‘O’ed. Do not leave blank parchment space under the design. That might lead to the frosting sticking to blank paper when it goes around the cake. It becomes messy to peel it off.
Now, I add another shorter layer of looping O’s on top and bottom. Creative juices were flowing freely :D.
Looped and ‘O’ed at the top and bottom. The time chocolate takes to set depends on the weather. When I made this in summer, it took 2-3 minutes in fridge for it to set a bit. But now, in peak winter, I could see that the first loops were already loosing its sheen and hardening before I was even done with the whole thing.
Into the fridge it goes. I left it there for exactly one minute. What we are looking for is for the chocolate to lose some of its sheen. It means that the chocolate is hardening and not a fluid any more. But it should not harden completely because then it will break when you apply it to the round sides of the cake.
I would suggest refrigerating for 2 minutes in warmer weather conditions, but check after one minute to be on the safe side.
Another method is to apply the collar directly to the cake after piping the pattern. The cake is then refrigerated for sometime to allow the chocolate to dry. I haven’t tried that way yet.
Now, after exactly a minute (thank you, kitchen timer!), I took out the collar and applied it against the cake. I kind of gently,but firmly, pressed the collar with my hand all over the sides to make sure that all of the chocolate is touching the cake. Again, be careful not to break the chocolate.
The cake goes back in the fridge again. This is not needed, but playing it safe here.
Now for the fun part. Peel off the parchment paper. See, even simple Os result in OOHs here :-). I don’t like tall collars, I like it to stay lower than the cake. When you are cutting the cake, a serrated knife works best to cut through the chocolate layer.
Lemon and Ricotta cheese cake and eggless mango cakes, all decorated with chocolate collar. Its one of the easiest way to decorate a cake.
Check out the Blogging Marathon page for more recipes from other participants.