Sunflower Cake – how to make gorgeous sunflower cake decorations using melted chocolate and a knife.
A new tutorial by our contributor Erin Gardner.
I love chocolate flowers (newsflash) and I love sunflowers. However, I’ve never really loved making chocolate sunflowers or using them to decorate cakes. The flat flower shape always felt limiting. My options were either stick the flower directly onto the side of the cake or perch it flat on top looking like some sort of futuristic chocolate weapon. Neither all that cute IMHO.
With fall cakes right around the corner, I knew it was time to tackle this dilemma head on. It definitely should have occurred to me long, long ago to assemble the flower with one flat side that acts as a base, to make it easier to place on the cake. I’m kicking myself for not thinking of this sooner! This assembly technique not only works for sunflowers, but literally any chocolate flower you want to sit upright. Game Changer! I can’t wait to show you how to make this Sunflower Cake!
CHOCOLATE SUNFLOWER CAKE
a tutorial by Erin Gardner
- 1 cup yellow coating chocolate (or tinted chocolate that’s been tempered)
- 6 disks of orange coating chocolate
- 1/2 cup each dark green, lime green, and black coating chocolate
- Pairing knife
- Parchment paper
- Heavy duty aluminum foil
- Small paint brush
- Small piece of cardboard
- Small bowl
- 1/4 cup of Black jimmies sprinkles
- 6-inch round cake finished with plain buttercream
- Approximately 1/2 cup each of green and blue buttercream
- Icing smoother or large straight icing spatula
Make the Petals
Melt the yellow and orange coating chocolate in the same heatproof bowl. Stir the colors to combine.
Dip an inch or so of a flat side of the pairing knife into the melted chocolate. Lay the coated portion of the knife against the edge of a sheet of parchment paper. Smear the chocolate on the paper, pulling the knife down and away.
Clean the blade of the knife and repeat the process to make more petals. I used about 2 dozen or so in my finished flower. Make more or less depending on how full you’d like your sunflower.
Go back and repeat the dipping and smearing process to add a second layer of chocolate to each petal. This will help strengthen the petals and add more dimension. Set the petals aside to dry completely before making the flower, about 10 minutes. Pop the petals in the fridge to buy yourself more work time if you have have hot hands. Do that at any point in the process if you need to.
Make the Leaves
Tear off 2-inch wide strips of foil. Cut the foil into leaf shapes about 3 inches long. I ended up using three leaves, but always make a few extra in case of breakage. Melt the green coating chocolates in a small bowl and stir the colors to combine. Paint the melted chocolate onto the leaf shapes. Set some of the leaves aside to dry flat. Pinch some of the leaves at the base so that they dry with a little curl to them. Set all the leaves aside or in the fridge until they’re completely dry, about 10 minutes.
Prep the Cake
The design of your finished cake is entirely up to you – as always! But for a finish similar to the one I placed my sunflower on, add small dollops of blue buttercream around the upper 3/4s of your cake and dabs of green buttercream around the bottom. Spin the cake on your turntable while holding the blade of a large icing spatula or bench scraper against the side of the cake. Smooth and smear the dollops to create a watercolor finish. If you need more information, check out the buttercream portion of this tutorial for photos and more details.
Assemble the Sunflower
Carefully peel the petals off of the parchment paper. Pick the paper up and bend it back and away from the petals to help release them. Peel the aluminum foil from the backs of the leaves. Start at the base of the leaf and work your way towards the tip.
Line a small bowl with foil. Lift up one of the edges and slide a small piece of cardboard into the bowl to flatten one of the sides. This is the trick to making your flower sit upright on the cake! Spoon a half dollar-sized puddle into the center of the bowl.
Add a layer of petals to the puddle of chocolate propping them up against the sides of the bowl and straight up against the side with the cardboard. This area will be where the flower sits flat on top of the cake.
Spoon a smaller amount of yellow chocolate onto the center of the flower and add another layer of petals. Set the whole thing aside to dry, about 10 minutes.
Pour the black sprinkles onto a piece of parchment paper. Fold the paper over the sprinkles and crush them using your finger tips and the heel of your hand. Squish some until they’re dust and leave some tiny chunks.
Melt the black coating chocolate and spoon a half dollar-sized puddle into the center of the flower. Dust the edges of the puddle with the crushed sprinkles. Use the tip of a knife to push the sprinkles into the chocolate and shape the center as needed.
Set the flower aside to dry completely before un-molding.
Lift the foil liner out of the bowl. Place one hand under the flower to steady it and use the other hand to peel back the foil. Handle the flower by the thicker center to prevent breaking any petals. If you do break a petal, add another one in it’s place by dipping the bottom of the petal into the melted chocolate and sliding it into place.
The finished flower and leaves can be made well in advance and stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to three months. Place the flower on top of a cake freshly iced with buttercream. Mine sat up nicely for me with no assistance, but feel free to add a dollop of buttercream behind it or prop it up with other elements you’re using on the cake. Slide the leaves in around the flower and attach with buttercream if needed.