How to make chocolate decorations

Making chocolate decorations is a great way to impress your friends and to make any dessert or cake look extra special, and don’t worry, with a bit of practice it’s not that hard to make decorations that look fantastic.

It is also great fun to make chocolate decorations and you can even get all the family involved, as long as they don’t end up eating all the chocolate when you are not looking that is!

What can I decorate with chocolate decorations?

You can use melted, or tempered chocolate to create decorations to add a touch of class to most dessert items including cupcakes, cookies, muffins and even full-size cakes, to give them that “just delivered from the bakery” look.

What kind of chocolate do I need?

You can use any kind of chocolate really to make the decorations of your choice, from milk to white or even dark and plain chocolates. It is always good to have high quality chocolate with a good cocoa level for the best results and flavour.

To make any of the chocolate decorations listed here, you need to melt or temper your chocolate, which is really easy to do. It might help to have a chocolate thermometer and also a microwave-friendly heatproof bowl to hand, before you begin.

Is tempering chocolate difficult?

The easiest way for tempering chocolate is in the microwave, although you can use a bain-marie, which is a small saucepan placed over a larger saucepan filled with boiling water. You melt the chocolate slowly in the small saucepan and don’t let it touch the water.

Can I melt chocolate decorations in the microwave?

However, using a microwave can be quicker and less messy, and it’s easier to melt a small amount of chocolate at a time this way. You just need to put your chocolate into the bowl and heat it at the highest setting in the microwave for just 30 seconds.

Then you need to take the bowl out and stir it before doing the same process again for another 30 seconds, then another 15 seconds and then another 10 seconds, stirring in between each bout.

How do I know when the chocolate is melted?

You need your chocolate thermometer at this stage as it’s important not to let your chocolate go over the optimum temperature which is 86 degrees for milk chocolate, 90 degrees for dark chocolate and 84 degrees for white chocolate.

Your chocolate should be fully melted by now, but if not, you can heat for another five seconds and then it should be fully melted and ready to use and this is where the fun and creativity can start.

What kind of easy chocolate decorations can I make?

There are many different decorations you can choose from, once your chocolate is fully melted, some of which are very simple and easy to make, others take a bit more time and effort, so here are our suggestions.

1.      Chocolate drizzles

This is by far the simplest way to decorate items using melted chocolate and is great if you are doing this with young children who want to make something quickly and easily, just be careful with the hot chocolate.

Lay out your items to be decorated, for example, cookies, or muffins, onto a wire tray and then dip a spoon or a fork into your melted chocolate mixture and just drip the chocolate over them to create patterns and lines.

You will need to let the chocolate cool and harden for at least 15 minutes before these decorated drizzle desserts are ready to be eaten.

2.      Piping hot chocolate

If you have a piping bag you can use this to create some interesting designs and garnishes for your desserts. For smaller items like cupcakes, try filling your piping bag up with the chocolate.

You will need to cut off the tip and then lay out a sheet of greaseproof paper and use the piping bag to pipe out shapes such as hearts or triangles or whatever you want to create. You could even create chocolate letters.

Make them no more than about an inch long and then put them in the fridge for ten minutes to cool, while the chocolate hardens on the paper, then carefully peel them off, before using them to decorate all of your small desserts.

If you are decorating a birthday cake, you can pipe directly onto the cake and perhaps spell out the birthday person’s name or create some patterns on the top. Again, it will need to cool before you can serve the cake.

3.      Chocolate tears

For a more unusual decoration, use your piping bag and the greaseproof paper again. This time you need to pipe small round blobs, the size of a coin, onto your paper, and make sure to leave around an inch space between each one.

Next, take a small spoon and push the back of it into each drop and pull upwards to create a tear shape. These will need to be frozen to stay in shape, for about an hour, before you can then add them to your cake.

4.      Layered chocolate shapes

To make these you will need more than one type of melted chocolate, to create the different layers, so melt the two types of chocolate that you prefer. White and milk chocolate tend to make the best marbled effect.

Pour a layer of white chocolate into a baking tin, and then drip the milk chocolate in sections on top. You can use a fork to swirl them together to create a marbled effect, and then put the tin in the freezer.

It will take about an hour to freeze the chocolate solid. Then you can take it out of the freezer and remove the chocolate marbled slab from the tin and place it onto a chopping board.

You can use a knife to cut shapes you want, such as stars or hearts and then use them to decorate your cake.

5.      Chocolate leaves

Use five or six small edible herb leaves such as thyme, basil or mint and spread them out onto a baking sheet, with space in between so you can pick them up individually after you are done.

Pour the hot chocolate over each one carefully and then put the baking sheet in the freezer and freeze them for at least an hour. When you take them out of the freezer you should be able to just peel the leaves off the chocolate and throw them away.

The leaves will have left a leaf pattern and impression in the chocolate which you can cut round and use to decorate your cakes.

6.      Chocolate honeycomb

For an ideal decoration if you are making any kind of honey-based or honey-flavoured cakes, try making chocolate honeycomb. All you need is a small piece of bubble wrap to use.

Lay out the bubble wrap nice and flat on a baking tray and then pour a layer of the hot chocolate over it. Then pop the tray with the bubble wrap into the freezer and leave it there for an hour.

When you take it out, peel the bubble wrap off the chocolate and you have your own honeycomb design which you can break into pieces if you wish and it’s ready to eat.

7.      Chocolate curls

Take a baking tray and pour a thin layer of melted chocolate onto the tray before putting it into the freezer for a few minutes to harden. Once it is hard, not frozen, take it out again to make the curls.

You will need to take a knife and scrape it across the chocolate, and it should create small curls as you do so. You can use the curls immediately as decorations for a cake or you can store them in a bag in the freezer. These are great to use on the top of a cupcake.

8.      Chocolate dripped cake

To decorate a cake which has already been covered in white icing or frosting, just take your melted chocolate and pour it gently over the middle of the cake, so it will just start to drip down the sides.

You will then need to keep the cake chilled in the fridge for around half an hour to allow the chocolate drips to set and cool down. Then your chocolate drip cake is ready to be served.

9.      Chocolate wrapped cake

This is a slightly fiddlier decoration to make but it will add a real chocolatey surprise to any plain cake that you choose and is perfect for any chocolate lover in the family.

For this one, measure grease proof paper that is long enough to wrap around the outside of your cake.

Then spread it out on baking tray and pour your chocolate into the piping bag. You need to pipe lines back and forth, pointing to the left, then do it again the other way, pointing to the right, which will create a zig zag pattern of chocolate lines.

You need to cool the chocolate but not freeze it entirely as it might break, so leave it in the freezer for around 30 minutes, before then removing it gently from the paper and wrapping it around your cake.

10.  Chocolate spheres

For an ambitious chocolate decoration, try making a chocolate sphere as these look impressive on any cake and can be decorated to resemble planets or other sphere-themed cake ideas.

You will need a special chocolate sphere mould to make these specialist shapes using your tempered chocolate and the technique can be tricky.

Pour the melted chocolate into the mould and use a scraper or knife to remove any excess chocolate. After 30 seconds, you need to pour the chocolate out, to make sure the sphere shells are thin.

Leave the mould upside down on some grease proof paper for around 15 minutes so the chocolate is not quite fully set. Scrape off the excess to make sure your sphere has a clean edge.

The next stage is to place the moulds in the fridge to allow the chocolate to fully set which should only take around ten minutes.

Once you can release the chocolate half spheres from the mould you will need to melt the edges slightly, before pressing both sides of the sphere together gently but firmly. Allow them to cool and fully set before painting them or using them on your cake or cupcake.

11.  Chocolate sails

For a stunning showpiece on top of a cake, or even one with a nautical theme, chocolate sails look really beautiful and are very simple to make. You just need some grease proof paper and some clips or clothes pegs.

Lay your paper out on flat surface before spreading a thin layer of your melted chocolate over it, evenly with a spatula.

Take the two corners at one side of the paper, bring them together and clip them to secure in place, making a sail shape, before placing carefully in the fridge for the chocolate to set into shape.

It should only take around 15 minutes for the chocolate to set and then you can gently remove the paper from the chocolate, before tidying up the edges using a knife and then placing it carefully on your cake.

12.  Chocolate cups

Chocolate cups are a great way to serve other desserts, including mousse or ice cream and all you need to make them are some water balloons, greaseproof paper and melted chocolate, simple!

Don’t be tempted to use normal balloons as you will struggle to remove the chocolate from them, water balloons work much better and are the right size as well.

Start by blowing up the balloons and tying the ends, then place your greaseproof paper onto a baking tray. You need to pour your melted chocolate into a large bowl that is big enough to fit the balloons into.

Dip each balloon in turn, into the chocolate and then rest it on the paper. Once they are all dipped you can put the tray into the fridge and leave for around 15 minutes for it all to set. Then remove from the fridge.

Finally, pop the balloons using a small pin and the balloon should shrink away from the chocolate by itself. Remove the balloons and then you can fill your chocolate cups with whatever you fancy, maybe even a decorated cupcake.

13.  A chocolate bowl

This is not so much a chocolate decoration but a way to serve your desserts which can also be eaten at the same time. All you need for this one is a normal balloon and some clingfilm, and of course your ready melted chocolate which will need to be in a piping bag to make the process easier.  

Firstly, blow up your balloon and tie it off, then place it into a bowl or a cup, upside down. Place your clingfilm over the end of the balloon before you begin, so your chocolate doesn’t get stuck.

Use your piping bag to pipe chocolate over the end of the balloon so it covers the clingfilm and it doesn’t matter if it drips slightly. Place the whole thing in the fridge for 15 minutes for the chocolate to set.

Then you can take it out and carefully remove the chocolate – which is now in a bowl shape, from the clingfilm and the balloon and use it to stand upright and serve your dessert in. You can fill it with all sorts of goodies to make a great dessert centrepiece but remember it will start to go soft and melt if it’s left too long at room temperature.

14.  Chocolate shards

Chocolate shards make a dramatic and exciting decoration for any cake, and once made you can keep them in the fridge to use whenever you are ready.

Pour your melted chocolate into a baking tray in a thin layer and allow to harden slightly. Once hardened, use a knife to score lines through the chocolate layer to create random patterns. You are not aiming to make shapes here, just jagged lines to end up with shards.

Pop the tray into the fridge and allow the chocolate to harden fully for around 15 minutes before removing it from the fridge. Use a knife to go through the score marks to cut the jagged shapes from the chocolate, creating dramatic shards.

You can now use these to decorate your cake or save them to use by storing them in a bag in the freezer. You can also cut them to any size you need them so you could even make mini ones for cupcakes. They are a great decoration to finish decorating any cakes.

15.  Using chocolate wafers and chocolate buttons

Our final suggestion is if you don’t want to go through all the process of melting chocolate to create decorations, then you can always get creative using other existing chocolate elements and use those on your cake or dessert instead.

You can look for chocolate wafers, chocolate buttons or spherical shaped chocolates that you can buy in the shop, chocolate chips or even chocolate fudge fondant, and create all kinds of beautiful decorations of your own that way, without melting anything.

This approach is ideal if you want young children to get involved with helping to decorate desserts as it’s still fun and creative but doesn’t involve any risk of injury from the heated-up chocolate.

That’s it choc lovers. If you have friends and family who also have a love for chocolate, why not treat them to a chocolate hamper from Virginia Hayward.

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