Instead of buying expensive cake toppers, use these ideas to make four stunning homemade cake toppers that will add colour, texture, and height to your cakes! In this tutorial I’ll show you step-by-step how to make each one AND how to attach them to cakes!
If you prefer to watch a video of this tutorial, scroll to the bottom of the page.
#1 Chocolate Shapes
For detailed shapes, melt chocolate chips and spoon the melted chocolate into a cookie cutter placed on top of a piece of parchment paper.
Use the spoon to push the chocolate around to completely fill the shape, right up to the edges. Save a spoonful of the melted chocolate for later and then put it in the freezer for 10 minutes or in the fridge for 30 minutes.
When the chocolate has set, take it out of the fridge or freezer and gently pushing the chocolate out of the cookie cutter. Flip the cookie cutter over and push from the bottom, up to the top, and this makes it much less likely to snap as you push. Push all over the shape to gradually ease it out of the cookie cutter. The thicker the chocolate is, the stronger the shape will be, which is important for this part!
Once the shape is out you can brush it with edible glitter or luster dust to give it some colour and sparkle. Remember to do the sides as well, so that those match the colour of the front of the shape.
To attach the shape, flip it over and use the spoonful of chocolate you saved to make a line down the middle of the shape. You’ll probably need to re-melt this chocolate because it will have set while the chocolate shape was setting.
Press a paper straw into the melted chocolate, which will act as glue to attach it. You can put the chocolate shape with the straw in the fridge for a few minutes to speed up the process.
Meanwhile, push a straw into your cake to forge the pathway for the straw attached to the cake topper. Then when the chocolate has set to attach the straw to the chocolate shape, push that straw into the hole and the shape will slide in easily and secure the cake topper in place.
With just a cookie cutter you’ve created a perfectly shaped cake topper!
#2 Buttercream Rose
With a petal tip you can create all sorts of flowers using buttercream, or any other frosting. You’ll need parchment paper (just a small square), a flower nail and a plate or a tray.
Choose a petal tip that’s the right size for your cake. I’m using a #126 to pipe a rose on top of my little 4” cake but for a larger cake you might choose a larger tip like a #127.
Drop the petal tip into a piping bag and you’ll notice it’s a teardrop shape with a narrow end and wide end and that’s going to be very important in a minute.
Fill your piping bag no more than half full with frosting and push the frosting down to the to[, twisting the bag to make piping easier. Squeeze a little smear onto the flower nail, which will act as glue to attach the parchment square.
Now squeeze a blob onto the middle of the parchment, which will support the rosebud.
Hold the piping bag with the narrow end of the top pointing up and squeeze the buttercream out, spinning the flower nail between your thumb and fingers to make a ring and keep piping to overlap it, creating a rose bud.
Roses are really easy to pipe because you use the same motion to create petals, just changing the length and the angle. Start by angling the tip in to keep the petals as tight as you can, as close to the rosebud as possible, and overlap each petal by a bit so they sort of wrap around each other.
After one ring, pipe another ring, and with each ring the petals should get a bit longer and also start angling a bit further out so they’re less tight around the rosebud, because rose petals start to fan out as you get towards the outside of the rose.
When you’ve covered the parchment, pinch a piece of it and carefully slide it onto a plate or a tray and put it in the freezer for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, pipe a generous blob of frosting onto the top of a cake which will act as glue to attach your rose.
Take your rose out of the freezer and it will be cold and firm for a few minutes so work quickly! Lift the rose on the parchment paper up from the plate. It might be easiest to slide an offset spatula underneath it to loosen it.
The buttercream will already be starting to warm up and soften so while it’s still firm, peel it off the parchment paper.
Lift it up and place it onto the blob of buttercream on the cake, angling it so it’s facing outwards rather than straight up. You might find it helpful to use your offset spatula to lower it slowly down onto the blob of buttercream.
Spin the cake so you can see the back of the rose and pipe move petals around the back to cover up that blob.
Keep the narrow end of the piping tip pointing up and overlap the petals so that the blob of buttercream and the underside of the rose are no longer visible.
If you want to you can tidy up the petals with a toothpick, because the frosting is soft and sticky so you can manipulate it.
Roses are so elegant and this one has the added benefit of being delicious, too!
#3 Candy Shards
Another delicious way to add height and colour to a cake is with any kind of hard candy. Place them on a baking tray lined with parchment paper or a silicone mat and put the tray in the oven at 350F or 180F for about 2 minutes, until the candy melts into a puddle.
The candy should have a few bubbles on the surface but don’t wait until the candy is bubbling furiously because the candy will spread out too much and be too thin and delicate.
Let the candy cool for about 5 minutes. Those big bubbles will settle as the candy cools, leaving shiny colourful shards. Lift them off the parchment paper and they’ll peel off easily because of the non-stick surface of parchment paper.
Push the shards into a cake either straight after frosting it, or after the frosting has set. I prefer to do it after the frosting has set because the cake and frosting are firmer and will support the shards better. The shards will have thin, sharp edges so they’ll poke through the firm frosting easily.
Don’t be shy as you push the candy in, pushing all the way through the frosting until you feel it sink into the cake underneath. The frosting will hold the topper in place so it doesn’t topple over. No one will guess how easy it is to make these colourful cake toppers!
#4 Chocolate Basket
To make a basket or sail, melt chocolate and pour it onto parchment paper and spread it around to make (approximately!) a circle.
Use your offset spatula to smooth the chocolate to create an even layer so it’s the same thickness all over. Aim for smooth edges since those will be noticeable at the end.
Immediately lift the parchment up and drape it over a bottle or an upside down bowl or any other object. You can use clothes pegs or pins or clips to hold the parchment in a certain position to create the shape you want for your chocolate.
Put the chocolate in the fridge and this is essential – it’s almost impossible to get the chocolate at room temperature off the parchment without breaking. When the chocolate is cold, take it out of the fridge and remove the clothes pegs or clips or pins.
Peel the parchment paper away from the chocolate and you’ll leave behind a pretty chocolate basket!
You could fill the basket with sprinkles or candy or fruit, or leave it empty and the unique shape will be dramatic and eye-catching.
If the frosting on your cake has set, spread a bit of fresh buttercream onto it and press the chocolate into that and the chocolate will stick to it. So pretty!
I hope you’ve seen some fun ideas you’d like to try. Visit my online cake school for LOTS of courses teaching hundreds of cake designs and techniques and join my ClubPLUS for access to them all!