Seasonal Cake Decorations

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The holidays may be over, but it’s still fairly early in winter. And what better to treat yourself to while being snowed in than a Snowflake themed cake?

For this recipe I’ve assumed that the cake will be made from a boxed mix. There are several varieties of cakes that taste just as good as any homemade cake, and mixes, while sometimes bland, are usually consistent. A subtle base taste is good for adding whatever sorts of frosting or decorations and candies that you fancy. Here’s one of my favorite cakes:

Snowflake Cake

1 devil’s food cake (Recommended: Betty Crocker) and vanilla frosting (recommended: Pillsbury)
Sugar Snowflake
Chocolate swirls
Spun Sugar

Sugar Snowflakes: 2 cups granulated sugar, 1/2 cup light corn syrup, 1/2 cup water
Chocolate Swirls: 2 cups chocolate chips (dark chocolate works better than milk chocolate), corn syrup to add as needed
Spun Sugar: 2 cups granulated sugar, 1/2 cup light corn syrup, 1/2 cup water

Sugar Snowflakes: Mix all ingredients together in a pot (preferably copper). Place on stove, heat on medium until all sugar dissolves. Then, turn the temperature up. Let the mix sit until it hits 310 degrees, then briefly dip the bottom of the pot into ice water. Put the pot on an unused burner and allow to sit for 1 minute.

Next, move to your wax paper. You’ll want to lightly spray it with some sort of non-stick cooking spray, such as Pams. You will also need something to drip the mix with, such as a whisk with the tips cut off, or a (metal) fork. Do not use plastic utensils, they could melt. Using your utensil, drip strands of the sugar mixture onto the wax paper. Unlike spun sugar, this is meant to be thick. Your strands may be in any shape, though for a snowflake, I’d suggest trying for rounded edges.You should end up with a large, circular piece of sugar made up of overlapping strands. This will go beside your cake, to decorate it. For now, set it aside.

Chocolate swirls: Add 1 tablespoon of the light corn syrup to the chocolate chips. Then, in a microwavable bowl or over a double boiler, melt the chocolate. Drizzle onto a sheet of parchment paper. Again, the chocolate should overlap, though in this case, not so thickly. You want a lot of holes between the strands, almost like a lattice. If you want to do snowflakes and have an appropriately shaped cookie cutter, you can use that to cut shapes when finished. If not, I recommend simple spiral or swirl shapes. Whichever you do, try to keep them small. These will be pressed into the side of the cake after it is frosted. You can also add some on top if you’d like.

Spun sugar: Mix the ingredients together in a copper pot. Allow to cook on low-medium until all sugar is dissolved. Bring the mixture to a boil, and let it simmer for 2 minutes. Then, turn the heat up. When the sugar reaches 315 F, dip the bottom of the pan in ice water so that it stops cooking, then allow to sit for a minute. Take your whisk or fork, and lay strands out. You may do this over wax paper, but I prefer to set several pots on the edge of a table, and drape the strands over the pot handles. The sugar should be thin and somewhat pliable, though it will be fragile as it cools. Shape the sugar however you’d like. A thin coating could be used to cover the top of the cake, or wrapped around the sides over the frosting and chocolate swirls for a snow fall look. For those who would like something that takes a bit more effort, if you make a layer cake, you can twirl spun sugar up and around the cake in a spiral.

Once all your decorations are assembled and the cake has had time to cool, find a plate for the cake. I suggest a plain, glass plate with some extra space. Set the large sugar snowflake on the plate with the cake. You could lean it on an angle with the cake next to it, or if you want and it is large and thick enough, put it under the cake. Frost the cake, and press the chocolate shapes onto it wherever you want. The spun sugar can be wrapped around the cake, placed on top in little “snowdrift” puffs, or wrapped around the sides like snow.