Winter Wonderland~A Blog Tutorial

 

Hello everyone~ Today, I’m going to show you a very simple, very elegant cake design for the holidays!

One of my favorite decorating mediums for creative accents is candy coating (aka candy melts, compound chocolate, chocolate bark, etc.). There is no tempering required–just microwave, pipe your designs, pop in the fridge or freezer to speed set, and you’re done!

Let me show you how I made some beautiful Christmas trees today. This design is also perfect for “winter wonderland” themes all through the season.

 

Here are the basic materials that I used~

Candy coating (Today I used Ambrosia brand white candy coating which is at my local grocery store.)

Various dragees/sprinkles/hologram twinkle dust

Lollipop sticks

“Glue”  My glue was light corn syrup today, but I also like basic tylose glue (aka sugar glue), or piping gel.

Pearl dust or Pearl Spray (Wilton and PME make pearl spray)

Waxed paper or parchment paper lined cookie sheet…..and you’ll need a frosted yet empty, lonely cake ;0)

 First, I melted my white chocolate candy coating in the microwave.  Then, I filled a disposable piping bag with the “chocolate”, snipped the end, and began piping Christmas tree shapes in various sizes.  I like to freehand but if you’d prefer to use a template, you can slide one beneath the waxed paper and trace.  **Make sure to pipe your trees fairly thick. Mine are pretty lumpy and bumpy.  If they are thin, they will break more easily.

Some of my tree branches have a rounded look, but for others, I used a toothpick to drag out the tips of the branches into a point.

I piped some presents too!  Then, into the freezer–the whole tray, for about 10 mintues.  Once firm, they’re ready for the next step.Fresh from the freezer!  I flipped over my chilled trees and attached lollipop sticks to the back with melted chocolate (piped on). I flipped them because I wanted the textured, bumpy side to be in front.  If you prefer the smooth side, no need to flip!  These candy stick anchors will allow our trees to stand nice and tall with no worries tilting or breaking.

Back into the freezer they go for about 10 more minutes.  (You don’t have to freeze or chill the chocolate to set…it will set up at room temperature also, but it will take longer & the trees will be a little more fragile when handling.)

 Once everything is nice and chilled, you can safely pick up your trees!

 

Now, for decorating…my favorite part~

 I love pearlizing.  I experimented with Wilton Pearl Spray for the first tree below, and brushed dry Super Pearl dust for the middle tree.  You can see that they look very similar… the pearl dust may be ever so slightly more shimmery.  The last tree is naked for now.  What a difference!

Next, sparkle time.   Here, I have both Gold & Silver Hologram Twinkle Dust.  I experimented with mixing a little light corn syrup right into the gold dust.  This allowed me to paint on the glitter only where I wanted to.  The corn syrup took several minutes–probably a good 15 minutes or so to dry.  If I had mixed in a little vodka, it would have dried more quickly.  It’s fun to experiment though.  Piping gel would have worked well too–and so would “sugar glue”.

One quick word about the Disco/Twinkle dusts & dragees~ I prefer to use my ”bling factor” accents on decorations that aren’t going to be eaten.  If you suspect that your partygoers will devour the forest along with the cake, I would use sprinkles, sanding sugar, candies, etc. instead (And pearl spray is fine!)

 

I love the sparkle!  I added some silver dragees.  I pressed them into the light corn syrup “paint” I had just brushed on, but sugar glue or piping gel would dry a little more quickly.  You know what would have been even better?  To have dropped on my dragees just after piping the chocolate trees, before the chocolate had a chance to set.  Next time, that’s what I’ll do. I LOVED this part.  I could have decorated trees all afternoon.

 I decorated the presents using the same method (only I wanted the smooth side of the gifts to be the front).  These would be fine to leave at room temperature or a cool place in your house until you need them.  I still like to pop the cookie sheet with decorations into the freezer for just a few minutes before placing the decorations onto the cake.     I placed the trees into our 8″ round cake which was frosted with vanilla buttercream. I attached the presents to the front side of the cake with a little buttercream.  The snowy bottom border was piped from a Wilton tip 12 (medium round tip), in no particular pattern.   The frosting on top was applied with just a swirly motion of the spatula.

And here we are!

 

Thanks for stopping by, I hope you learned something new!  If you’ve never tried working with candy coating for decorations, this is the perfect time to start.  Have fun with with it!  It would be so easy to use the same method but with much more color–you could even use green candy coating for green trees.  Enjoy making winter wonderlands of your own, and I hope you’ll share your creations with us!

 

See you next time!

Category: Blog Tutorials, Chocolate Techniques, Seasonal & Holiday, Winter

54 Comments

  1. Yaneri Rodriguez says: #1

    Beautifully done!!! So inspiring!!! My little wheels in my head are turning full of ideas just looking through your blog!!! I LOVE being a member of MCS!!!! :D

  2. Paula M. says: #2

    I love this Melissa!! Really gorgeous..thank you for creating your site…it inspires me and is so well organized that anyone can follow your directions and be successful! I think I will try this design..wish me luck!

  3. Lynn / L2 just Cakes says: #3

    This cake is beautiful! I know you can get candy melts in lots of colors these days too, great for green trees, presents, tree lights, etc.
    If you use a crock pot set on low with plain hot water in it, you can drop your piping bags in a baggie and you don’t run the risk of scorching the chocolate while re-heating it. (while things are in the freezer)

  4. Shelly Brown says: #4

    Love the simplicity of this! I see this design on my holiday table perhaps with blue on the trees and packages! Thanks for sharing!

  5. Anna says: #5

    Thanks much….

  6. judy oaks says: #6

    I love it!!!

  7. Elizabeth Jordan says: #7

    Thank you, thank you, thank you, this is awesome and I so have to try this for Christmas…..

  8. Melissa Diamond says: #8

    Thank you all so much for commenting! I’m glad that you like it!

  9. TRISHA says: #9

    ~~Makes me want to dance around my kitchen in my fleece pants and sweatshirt and sing at the top of my lungs…”I’m dreaming of a WHIIIIIIITE CHRISTMAS…Just like the one MELISSA made……….”

    Oh ya…I know you can picture me doing that!

  10. Regina Kolaja says: #10

    This cake is breathtaking! We have a big family Christmas get together in Houston every year and GUESS what I’m taking! Thanks so much, I love it:)

  11. Joan Gamble says: #11

    Thank you! I can’t wait to make this for Christmas!

  12. Heather Stanley says: #12

    I have been thinking about what to do for a Christmas cake ( we are cake people!) and now I know!! Thank you, amazing job :)

  13. Dorothy says: #13

    I love the trees simple & beautiful very beautiful!

  14. vera jorge says: #14

    Hello
    Amazing :)

    What cream did you use, to the cake outside?

  15. Irma Uriña Arana says: #15

    Gracias por compartir estas ideas maravillosas me encanto, lo haré de seguro.

  16. Pat says: #16

    Gorgeous! My next thing to try ~ thanks so much for sharing! Your photos and instructions are always so easy to follow & I appreciate that so much.

    Can’t wait to see what’s next!

  17. sarah says: #17

    I love this! I love that it is so easy and elegant, thank you for removing the mystery! I only wish I had more events to go to so I could make more cakes! I am making this one for Christmas though! LOVE IT!

  18. ForSweetsSake says: #18

    Simple…..yet so Elegant!

  19. Kátia says: #19

    so beautiful…
    beijos do Brasil!

  20. Theresa Marlett says: #20

    very cute. I think I am going to try this design.

  21. MaggiesCakes says: #21

    Love this one.

  22. Chellie says: #22

    What a beautiful way to top a holiday cake. As always, you are one talented lady. Happy holidays…

  23. Margie says: #23

    What a beautiful cake!!!! I know what
    dessert I’m making for our family
    Christmas Eve dinner!!
    I love being a member of your
    cake school….you always come up
    with such good ideas!
    Happy holidays!

  24. Melissa Diamond says: #24

    Thank you all so much for your nice comments! I’m so glad to hear that many of you are planning to make Christmas trees! Can’t wait to see them ;0)

  25. Nanna says: #25

    So pretty :)

  26. Ligia says: #26

    So beautiful I will try to make it this christmas thanks

  27. Belinda Davis says: #27

    Hi i was wondering could you lay the lollipop stick down first and pipe the chocolate over it?

  28. Yvonne Brilhart says: #28

    I tried this, came out good..only mine was thinner. So, it was spreading…I added more chocolate after it hard, put them back in refrigerator. Do I need to wait until the chocolate cool or I warm it too warm ?

  29. BeBe says: #29

    Hi Yvonne, after you have melted your chocolate, let it cool slightly so it will not run. As it cools it will thicken, what type of chocolate are you using?

  30. Melissa Diamond says: #30

    @Belinda–I think that it should work fine! You may have a thin strip of the stick exposed in back but maybe you could dip the stick in chocolate first or just pipe a tiny bit of chocolate on the waxed paper before placing the stick on top of it and piping your tree. If you experiment, let us know how it goes!

  31. Paula M. says: #31

    Hi Melissa..I am going to make this design soon (I may make my presents out of colors of fondant, and I am toying with making some skiis standing criss cross together along with the presents…), but I did have a question. Can you give me an idea as to the “height” of your trees? I know you have an 8″ cake in your blog, maybe 5″ tall? I am going to make a 6″ cake approx 5″ tall; so as to not make trees too small or large for the height of the cake, do you have advice as to what would look good tree height wise? Thank you.

  32. I so love your cake! Simple but elegant, will definitely try this recipe and see how it looks on my cakes.

  33. Ester says: #33

    Very beautiful !!!
    A great job.

    M’agrada molt, és preciós.
    Una gran feina.
    Ester

  34. Angela Ammons says: #34

    I tried making the trees tonight! I loved the results and will post my cake soon! Thank you Melissa for this great tutorial!

  35. Melissa Diamond says: #35

    Thanks again, everyone for your lovely comments! — @Paula–Yes, probably my tallest was approx 4.5-5″. Others were probably closer to 4″ and even 3″. — We actually used the same trees on a much smaller cake later that week–it was only a 6″ cheesecake and they still looked cute! We just needed fewer trees. I think you’ll find as you are piping that they are very quick to make–you can throw in a couple of small and medium sized trees so that you’ll have more to choose from ;0) —

    @Angela–I’m so glad that you made them! Can’t wait to see ;0)

  36. Paula M. says: #36

    Thank you Melissa!

  37. Tracy says: #37

    Just beautiful! Did you add corn syrup to the chocolate? Could you also use white chocolate chips or are the bars better
    Thanks for all ur help and tips in my baking!

  38. BeBe says: #38

    Hi Tracy, we did not add corn syrup to the chocolate. We think the trees made from the bark/candy coating are a bit more firm after setting up but I think you would be fine if you wanted to use the white chocolate chips. Be careful not to scorch the chocolate when you microwave. Melt a short intervals and when the cho. chips or cho. bars are soft but holding their shape, just stir and they will gradually melt to the consistency you want.

  39. Tracy says: #39

    thank you…my trees are seeming a little fat and the chocolate a little think
    I did not see a tutorial on this…just doesnt seem as simple as melissa makes it seam I have been able to follow Many turorials very successfully
    haha–just first time with the chocolate

  40. Melissa Diamond says: #40

    Hi Tracy–I’m so sorry that you are having trouble. What are you using for your chocolate? We find that candy coating/chocolate bark is really easy to work with. If it gets too thick, you simply re-warm it. If it somehow becomes too hot and runny, you let it cool for a few minutes. Usually, I can use it straight from the microwave though.

    Also, maybe the hole that you snipped at the end of your piping bag is a little large? I just snip enough to create a small hole, so that the chocolate doesn’t come out so thick or quickly. Also, one difference in piping with chocolate vs. buttercream is that the chocolate will continue to flow even when you are not applying pressure. So, I keep the bag moving. It may take 5 seconds to make one tree to give you an idea.

    Would it help you to have a template of the trees that you could place beneath the waxed paper? I could post a rough sketch of the general shape of the trees I made. —

    While we don’t have a video tutorial of this (we usually keep our blogs and videos separate), we do have several video tutorials where I make chocolate decorations from melted candy coating. These are in our “Working with Chocolate” section– (Chocolate letters, chocolate bow, chocolate transfers, chocolate daisies and shards, etc.) We also demonstrate chocolate decorations in our “Cupcake Basics” video. No need to watch all of these, but you could watch one or two if you want to see how quickly I moving the piping bag, etc.

    I hope this helps! Finally, if you have “fat trees”, don’t throw them away. The appearance can be dramatically improved with a little decoration! You can give the illusion of thinner branches when you paint on your glitter, or pipe on a little snow (or whatever you have in mind!) ;0)

  41. pam says: #41

    absolutely wonderful….i had seen something similar but i LOVE your decoration the most…thanks for sharing

  42. GlamMa8142425 says: #42

    Hi Melissa. I used this project for a cake for my husband’s holiday party. It was a huge hit!! Thank you so much for sharing all of your wonderful inspiring ideas, they’re too cute and I want to do them all!! With all of the ideas and techniques that are out there, following a tutorial simply makes it easy and less stressful, cuz I can never decide. :-). I posted the pic in the gallery.

    Have a wonderful holiday!!

  43. gracie says: #43

    I think it’d be very helpful if you could make up a template for the tree
    I am having a hard time shaping mine.
    They look nothing like yours ….

  44. Melissa Diamond says: #44

    @Pam- Thanks!!

    @”gracie” – I will work on adding a template for you to use for the next time! I’m sorry that you aren’t happy with your shapes–I bet that they look good though! Mine are all a little different since I freehanded.

  45. HollyLE says: #45

    After playing with the tree designs a bit, I found it easier to begin my piping at the bottom of the tree and working my way to the top point. Starting in the center where the trunk would come out of the bottom, I make narrow ‘infinity signs’ or number 8′s laying on their sides if you will. Each layer going up is just a little shorter than the one below it until I reach the top of the tree. It works better that way for me than starting at the top.
    I do believe for beginners that drawing out your tree with a black marker on a sheet of paper then taping it UNDER the wax paper for a guide has to the be the easiest way to make trees.
    I read that some trees are too thick…over heating the chocolate can cause it to cease up (or get very thick). The best way to melt the chocolate is on MEDIUM power for 30 second intervals, checking between each 3 seconds to see if your chocolate is soft enough to flow…it doesn’t take much. I’ve even run my piping bag under hot water till the chocolate is soft enough.
    Hope this helps!
    Melissa and Bebe,
    Thank you so much for all the incredible inspiration and instruction. I’m so blessed (as are so many others) to have found your cake school. You’re so pleasant to watch and a gifted instructor! I’ve learned so, so much from you both. You keep me excited about cake baking and decorating!
    I wish you and your family a VERY Merry and Blessed Christmas!
    Holly

  46. HollyLE says: #46

    LOL, sorry for the typo…Checking every 30 seconds to see if your chocolate is soft enough…Not every 3 seconds.

  47. Melissa Diamond says: #47

    Haha- Thanks Holly, that would be a lot of checking ;0) –And thanks also for your input on what works best for you!! Everyone approaches each project a little differently and I appreciate learning what works best for everyone else! Thanks for your nice words about the site too. Merry Christmas! ;0)

  48. Wanda Higgins says: #48

    I just made a cake using these chocolate trees. They worked out great. I piped chocolate on both sides so the trees looked 3 D. They turned out awesome! I made the green and used them on a “Gold Rush” cake. (I needed them to look like fir trees in Alaska. ) See my cake in the novelty section of the gallery. My three grandchildren LOVED eating them. Everyone couldn’t believe I made these. They were so easy. I will definitely use this technique again.

  49. BeBe says: #49

    I just took a look and you did a great job, I’m happy you gave the trees a try, thanks for posting!

  50. Julie says: #50

    I love you! Brilliant, this is just what I need. Thank you for being so selfless, posting and sharing your skill and knowledge!

  51. paintmycake says: #51

    This was fun and easy to make. Unfortunately I made my presents too large for the cake, so I quickly made some in royal icing and put them on the plate.
    I made peppermint frosting for the snow and the filling inside of a dark chocolate cake, vanilla buttercream on the outside. It was wonderful, everyone loved it. I’ll post a picture on the member gallery. As usual, thank you!

  52. Melissa Diamond says: #52

    Thank you so much!!

    @paintmycake, I’m glad that you made it, your cake sounds delicious! ;0)

  53. Nancy Lawlor says: #53

    I just finished my trees and even though they aren’t as beautiful as yours, they are so cute! I decorate a buche de noel cake a little different every year and these are perfect to stick in the log.Love your site. All the cakes are terrific. You ladies are good!Thank you and Merry Christmas!

  54. Nellie says: #54

    Thanks for the tutorial what a fast easy way to decorate a cake. My grandson can make this with me.

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