If you’re looking for a winner of a gift, you can’t go far wrong with a handmade chocolate slab!
What you need to make a large slab, or two smaller ones:
- Baking tray
- Baking paper
- 100g Milk chocolate
- 100g Dark chocolate
- 50g White chocolate
- 3 Heatproof bowls
- 3 Small saucepans
- Cocktail stick
The beauty of making your own is that you can use whatever chocolate you like and tailor the topping to the ‘giftees’ taste. One tip – make sure you use tasty chocolate, if you wouldn’t eat it on it’s own, don’t bother using it!
- Set up a baking tray with some baking paper, and if you want to multiple slabs, use something to keep the chocolate contained (I used some straight edged cutters held down by weights).
- Take 3 bowls and 3 pans, pour a small amount of water into each pan (the bottom of the bowl must sit clear of the water to avoid burning) and heat. Chop up each bar of chocolate as small as you can – the smaller you chop it, the quicker it’ll melt! I used 3 different types of chocolate: Green & Blacks milk, Tesco Finest white and Tesco Finest 70% dark.
- When the water in the pans is hot, turn down the heat and place each bowl over each pan and add each type of chocolate to its own bowl.
- With a close eye on your melting chocolate (give it a stir every now and again), chop up any nuts, etc. to sprinkle on top and keep these close by. As soon as your chocolate is melted down to just a few lumps, remove the bowls from the heat and stir until completely smooth. The milk and white chocolate will probably be ready before the dark chocolate.
- Pour your milk chocolate onto your prepared tray, keeping it to the left. Don’t be stingy! Pour it quite thick to ensure it doesn’t snap when you pick up your finished slab. Straight away drizzle the white chocolate down the middle and as soon as the dark chocolate is ready, pour that on the right. Quickly take a cocktail stick, or thin knife and lightly draw out from the white chocolate in the middle to create a swirl. Don’t be too precious and don’t worry if you mix up the chocolate, it all adds to the beauty.
- Grab your sprinkles, whether these are chopped nuts, dried fruit, fudge, marshmallows, or anything else and gently drop these down the middle of your slab. Leave your chocolate slab to set in a cool room out of direct sunlight.
Once set and looking delicious wrap in cellophane for a lovely gift.
I was a little nervous of this one, I’ve only baked gluten free cupcakes and dairy free cupcakes previously, but not gluten free AND dairy free! Luckily I found this perfect recipe…
Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake:
- 2-1/2 cups gluten-free flour blend (I used Doves gluten free self-raising flour)
- 2 cups organic cane sugar (caster sugar)
- 1 cup cocoa powder (I used Green & Blacks)
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 cup unsweetened coconut milk beverage (I used Koko dairy free milk)
- 1 cup warm water
- 2/3 cup mild flavor oil (such as sunflower seed, grapeseed, or canola) I used sunflower oil
- 2 tablespoons white vinegar
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract (I used two teaspoons of vanilla, not a tablespoon)
For the Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake:
- Preheat your oven to 350ºF (approx. 170ºC).
- Line the bottom of 2 8-inch round cake pans with parchment paper and spray each with cooking spray.
- In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour blend, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
- In a medium-sized bowl, combine the coconut milk beverage, warm water, oil, vinegar, and vanilla. Pour over the flour mixture and beat for 1 minute.
- Evenly divide the cake batter between the prepared cake pans, and bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans for 5 minutes, then invert onto cooling rack to cool completely.
For the buttercream, I made chocolate to sandwich and cover the cake, and vanilla to pipe roses onto the top.
150g Pure soya dairy free spread
200g Icing sugar
50g Green & Blacks cocoa powder
1 dessert spoon Koko dairy free milk
For vanilla, as above, but use 300g icing sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract.
Combine all of the ingredients and beat for 5 minutes. The soya spread is much wetter than butter and doesn’t set. If you’re piping with soya spread buttercream, put the buttercream in the fridge for half and hour before putting it in the piping bag and work quickly to pipe otherwise the buttercream starts to melt and separate.
Keep the cake in a cool place to avoid melting!! Unfortunately I forgot to take a photo of my version, fingers crossed the birthday party-goers took one 🙂
One of my most exciting cake projects last year was this one – a guitar cake for a 60th birthday rock party!
The body of the guitar is malted vanilla sponge and the guitar neck is chocolate sponge. I used a printed template to get the body shape which was covered in Renshaw’s Amethyst Purple fondant. The trickiest part was covering the part closest to the neck, as it’s pretty narrow! I then sprayed the body with edible lustre spray to give it a bit of sparkle.
Pickups, switches, etc. were moulded in fondant, sprayed silver and placed on once the guitar cake neck and body were united (I had to use two large rectangle cake boards). Instead of piping the strings, I used edible shoe laces (from Tesco) to add a bit of extra colour.
One of my favourite cakes from 2013 🙂
A lovely lady called me up and asked about having some birthday cupcakes made as a surprise for her friend who happens to live in my village (small world, as they say).
She’d seen my coffee and walnut cake covered in buttercream roses, so it was decided that these 60th birthday cupcakes would use rose piping and be chocolate and vanilla. Indulgent and pretty was the brief 🙂
The cupcakes were decorated with edible pearls and fondant discs with ’60’ on top.
So here they are… presented in a 12 hole card cupcake box, fastened with a ribbon. Happy 60th birthday Jan!
Backpackers cake paradise! This rucksack cake and travel-themed cupcakes were made for a young man embarking on a 7 month adventure around Asia. The backpack cake is modelled on the Osprey Farpoint 70, the exact bag the traveller would be using.
I baked 4 x 30cm square vanilla sponges which were then stacked and shaped, it was important to make sure all corners and edges were rounded like a real backpack. I then coloured the fondant to match the green Osprey bag by using Sugarflair’s Holly Green and ChestnutBrown with a little of Melon (yellow) to achieve the olive green. The most challenging task was covering the cake with the fondant – due to the height of the bulging pockets, the fondant had to be well rolled!
I added a bit of Wilton’s Jet Black colouring to a small portion of the olive green fondant for the strap and flap details. Buckles were shaped out of white and painted with edible silver paint. The map and passport
were handcut and decorated (passport coat of arms was hand-piped – don’t think I’ll be forging these any time soon!).
Accompanying red velvet cupcakes were decorated with fondant discs resembling globes, this was achieved by
rolling country shapes of green fondant onto blue (place cling film over the fondant when rolling to avoid it sticking the to pin). I cheated slightly by buying a mould for the aeroplane, fondant was pressed firmly into the mould, then placed in the freezer for approx. 30 minutes. These were sprayed with Dr Oetker silver spray to give them a metal-like sheen. The passports and maps were again hand cut and decorated freehand.
Very envious of such an exciting adventure! But I enjoyed the challenge of this cake and all of it’s little details.
Rockers rejoice and celebrate a special birthday with a legendary LP cover of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon!
A square vanilla sponge sits beside a half a circular sponge, a simple but very effective structure. Now, black isn’t the easiest colour fondant to work with, plenty of icing sugar the keep it from constant bad behaviour (sticking to everything it can). With a blast of edible glaze spray you’d never know how dusted in icing sugar this cake was during construction!
The prism design was hand cut, the edge dusted with black edible powder to soften the edge.
The perfect novelty cake for any crazy diamond cake fan 🙂
It was quite an easy design choice of cake for restaurant supervisor Aye. She runs my Dad’d Thai restaurant in Hitchin (www.sukawatee.com), and eats A LOT of chilli!
I’d just bought a copy of Cupcake Heaven magazine which contains a chilli chocolate cupcake recipe, perfect! I used 1 x cupcake quantity per 30cm square tin, I used 2 square tins. Each layer was filly with chilli chocolate ganache.
After cutting the sponge into a thin block, I used a cut out chilli shape as my template. I then smoothed the sponge over with a layer of ganache, before covering with bright red fondant. Using an aerosol edible glaze by PME I lightly glazed the red fondant to give it a glossy chilli appearance.
To make the green top, I added an extra layer of fondant over the red and hand cut a zig-zag pattern to look like the leaves.
When I decided to make this birthday ball of wool cake, I thought to myself “this won’t take long, just a few sausages of fondant” – I was yet to learn that there were plenty of sausages of fondant to make!
I baked two strawberry sponges using pyrex bowls and sandwiched these together with fresh strawberry buttercream. I then covered the cake with a layer of fondant in the same colour as the ‘wool’ and started making the sausages to lay vertically and horizontally, filling in the edges afterwards. Some five hours (or so) later the ball was covered.
The needles were made by covering two drinks straws in grey fondant and shaping the ends and stamped the size number into the top to resemble actual knitting needles. One dry I sprayed a little PME glaze spray over to give them a shine.
I made one last extra-long sausage of fondant to lay around the back and over the top of the cake, draping the end slightly over the message, and among the buttons to bring all of the elements together. For the buttons I used a silicon mould, greased with Trex, inserted the fondant and popped in the freezer for 20 minutes!
Birthday girl Louise was one surprised knitter! 🙂
A friend of mine has just finished a bunch of exams for her psychology degree, it was a relief when her birthday came around and she could finally relax and celebrate – so I thought not that she’s done with the books, she can eat them instead – the book cake idea was born!
Using a 30cm square tin I baked a vanilla sponge and sectioned it up to give me a two layer large oblong, and a smaller two layer oblong. I covered these in vanilla butter cream and fondant, then made impressions using the back of a knife for the pages. The larger book, I washed the pages with a little colouring to make it appear ‘old’.
For the covers, I cut pieces of fondant to fit the top and side (spine), but slightly overhang all the way round (like a real book cover does). I used a textured rolling pin for the bottom book and applied artwork of the book ‘After Freud Left’ on the top book (using a stamp set and carefully painting in the lettering).
The larger book cake has a black fondant seam and a few gold edible pearls for effect. My final task was the bookmark – I left this to dry while draped over an egg box to give it a curl, then inserted it into the cake at the last minute.