Different ways to use chocolate in your cake decoration

28 Sep 2021

Food + Drink

Add the finishing touch to any cake with these fabulous chocolate decoration ideas

Whether it’s for a birthday, wedding or any other occasion, we don’t think we’re alone in saying that any cake is improved by adding chocolate. It tastes delicious, of course. But chocolate can also be a versatile and creative ingredient that adds the final flourish to a decadent cake. From intricate stencils to a thick coating of rich chocolate buttercream, here are a few of our favourite ways to use chocolate in your cake decoration.

Most of these chocolate cake decorations require you to melt chocolate, so just remember to heat gently to avoid burning it!

Chocolate cake

Layer with Ganache

Sumptuous chocolate ganache makes a delightfully indulgent truffle filling — our Pink Champagne Truffles and Simple White Chocolate Truffles just wouldn’t be the same without it. However, chocolate ganache also makes a wonderful cake decoration.

Whether you keep it understated with a thick, rustic coating of the stuff or use it as a base to hold other toppings, it’s sure to taste divine. And the real beauty of chocolate ganache? It’s so easy to make!

All you need is a mixture of melted chocolate and cream. You can use any kind of chocolate you like. Still, for a rich flavour brimming with nuanced cocoa notes, we recommend going for dark chocolate. Our 70% Dark Chocolate Batons, for example, balance the sweetness of the cream perfectly.

For a thick consistency that you can spoon and smooth over your cake, use equal measures of cream and chocolate.

Let it drip

However, you can also get a lovely effect by creating a thinner chocolate ganache mixture to drizzle over the surface of an iced cake. Using a squeeze bottle will give you control as you place the drips, but you can also use a spoon. To achieve even, defined drips, let your ganache cool to room temperature before drizzling.

For best results, squeeze your ganache mixture around the edge of the top of the cake and slowly turn the cake. Bring the mixture just over the edge when you want to make a drip. Pause, then move the mixture back to the top. Continue around the cake until you want to make the next drip.

Dripping ganache is a great option for chocolate cake decoration

Top with your favourite truffles

A rich layer of chocolate ganache also offers the perfect opportunity to top your cake with your favourite chocolates. You can scatter them, or place them neatly around the edge so that every slice gets one. Two treats in one!

Vibrant, fruity chocolates are a great way to add a pop of colour. How about our bright Passion Fruit Selectors to complement a white chocolate ganache. Or Lady Marmalade gin truffles for something darker, with a boozy kick. Alternatively, you could keep it more classic with some Caffe Latte Selectors for a mocha twist.

Add chocolate-dipped fruit

And for a slightly healthier cake decoration, you can’t beat fresh fruit dipped in chocolate. Strawberries, cherries, orange slices — whatever your heart desires. Again, ganache creates the ideal surface for your chocolate-dipped treats to nestle against.

For an extra chocolate dimension, why not follow our guide to creating amazing chocolate shapes and top our ganache with those?

Create texture (and some sparkle) with stencils

Stencilled toppers are an elegant way to use chocolate for cake decoration. You can find cake stencils in an array of patterns and designs. Many people use them for royal icing, but you can create textured decorations from melted chocolate, too.

After melting your chocolate of choice — whether that’s white, dark, milk or something with a hint of salted caramel — use a spatula to spread it over parchment paper. Score the chocolate in whatever shape you’d like to create, then let it cool for about 30 minutes in the fridge.

Place a stencil over the top of the cooled chocolate and pour another layer of melted chocolate over it. Smooth it out with a spatula, taking the chocolate off the stencil.

Peel back the stencil to reveal your design and cut along the lines you scored to get your shape.

For an extra touch, you can dust the stencilled chocolate shapes with edible lustre. The sparkles will emphasise the stencilled patterns. 

Cupcakes with chocolate shape decoration

Cloak your cake in a chocolate wrapper

A chocolate wrapper is a great way to add some texture to your cake. As it encases the cake all around, it can also cover up any misshapen bits! This type of chocolate cake decoration works best on tall cakes with multiple layers.

Before creating your chocolate wrapper, coat the outside of your cake with a layer of frosting and pop the cake in the fridge to chill. Wrap a large piece of baking parchment around the cake, making sure it’s slightly longer than the cake’s circumference. You also want it to be as tall as the cake — or longer if you’d like to create a ‘collar’ effect.

Melt your chocolate and pour it over the parchment, spreading it all the way to the edges. Let it cool and harden slightly. Before the chocolate sets fully, however, lift the parchment up and wrap it around the cake. Gently press it against the sides, then put the cake back in the fridge for an hour to set the chocolate.

Once set, pinch one end of the baking parchment and peel it off slowly, being mindful not to break the chocolate.

Whip up some chocolate buttercream

Alongside ganache, buttercream is another tasty and versatile way to decorate cakes. You can smooth it over the surface of the cake, layer it thickly, or pipe it.

Making chocolate buttercream

A basic chocolate buttercream recipe requires:

  • 50g dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa — why not try our 90% Dark Chocolate Slab for ultimate depth?)
  • 100g softened, unsalted butter
  • 200g icing sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

To make your chocolate buttercream, melt the chocolate in a bain-marie. Let it cool until it’s no longer hot to the touch.

Beat the butter and icing sugar together in a bowl with the vanilla extract.

Fold the chocolate in until combined. If it’s too thick, you can always add a small amount of milk to soften it. 

Cupcake with chocolate buttercream frosting

Chocolate buttercream cake decoration

If you want to add a layer of chocolate buttercream all over your cake, it’s helpful to first add a crumb coating (a thin coat of frosting that keeps any loose crumbs together). This will give you a more even surface to decorate.

You can use a flat tool to smooth buttercream all around the outside of your cake or a piping bag to decorate it with trims, swirls, and flowers.

You can even use different types of chocolate (with differing cocoa percentages) to create various shades of buttercream. Pipe bands of the different buttercreams around your cake then smooth them all together for an ombre effect!

Chocolate cake decoration for every occasion

Hand-decorating a cake is a lovely way to add a personal touch, whether it’s a celebratory dessert for a friend or a treat for yourself. These techniques can take a bit of practice to perfect. However, what makes chocolate such a brilliant cake decoration ingredient is that, even if it doesn’t look quite how you wanted, it will still always taste delicious!

So why not pick up a slab of your favourite luxury chocolate and give cake decoration a go?