Make cake decorations using candy or boiled sweets, like Jolly Ranchers. In this tutorial I’ll show you different ways to melt candy and how to make freehand designs using no tools or more detailed shapes using tools. Then I’ll show you how to attach the decorations to a cake.
If you prefer to watch a video of this tutorial, scroll to the bottom of the page.
To create a 2D shape like a silhouette, put a cookie cutter on a baking tray lined with parchment paper and arrange candy inside it to fill the shape. The more candy you put in, the thicker the shape will be and the easier it will be to remove it later.
Put the tray in the oven at 350F or 175C for five minutes and check to see if the candy has melted completely. If not, leave it in the oven for another 2 minutes and then check again.
The melted candy might leak out from the cookie cutter but that’s fine – we’ll fix it in a minute.
You can do this with a silicone mold to create a more detailed shape. Place the candy into the mold, and for narrow areas you can crush the candy so that you can fit the smaller pieces into the mold.
Bake the candy in the mold at 350F or 175C until it’s all liquid and bubbling. It will be HOT when it comes out of the oven so don’t touch it yet!
You can use a microwave instead to melt the candy, just in a bowl or using a mold. If you crush the candy you’ll be able to blend the colours more subtly than if you use entire candies, like in the previous mermaid tail. To crush candy you can put it in a ziploc bag and then smash it with a rolling pin.
With crushed candy you have a lot more control over the coloring of the decoration, compared to using whole candies where you have large blocks of colour.
Put the mold in the microwave for one minute, until it’s bubbling and there are no solid chunks of candy left. Look at those beautiful colours! But it’s easy to overheat candy in the microwave and if that happens, the colour will become duller as it cools.
To remove the candy from a silicone mold is easy. The mold is flexible so just push upwards from underneath it and you’ll pop the shape out. Now I want to show you the different effects of using the oven and the microwave.
Look at the difference in the colours of the candy – the bright colours of the tail on the left, which was melted in the oven, compared to the dull colours of the one on the right, which was melted in the microwave.
To remove candy from a cookie cutter is a bit trickier. Once it’s cool, lift it off the tray and snap off any pieces of candy that have leaked out of the mold.
Now, you’ll notice that the candy is down at the bottom of the cookie cutter, and intuitively, you’d push it out through that bottom side. But it’s much more likely to crack that way, than if you flip it over and push the candy out through the top of the cookie cutter.
Push gently all over the shape, nudging it out bit by bit, until it pops out of the other side of the cookie cutter. As I mentioned earlier, the thicker the candy the stronger it will be. If the candy is very thin it’s more likely to snap as you push it out of the cookie cutter.
When the candy pops out you’ll have a perfect candy cactus (or whatever shape you’ve chosen). Learn how to decorate this Taco Tuesday Cake on my online cake school!
If you don’t have cookie cutters or silicon molds you can create decorations without them. You’ll need a piece of parchment paper and I like to place this on a tray to hold it in place and make it easy to move around. Melt the candy in a bowl and then drizzle it onto the parchment paper.
Let the candy cool slightly before pouring it because then you’ll have more control over the design because the drizzle will be thinner and it won’t spread out like it does when it’s still REALLY hot.
Look at the difference between candy you pour immediately after melting, compared to leaving it to cool for just a minute, until it stops bubbling.
When these cool, you can lift them easily off the parchment.
To attach candy decorations to a cake, pipe details onto the top of a cake and this frosting will be soft and sticky so you can push the candy straight into them. I’m using a #104 petal tip to pipe these ruffles.
I suggest using a crusting buttercream for piping, like my 4 Minute Buttercream because when it sets, after about 30 minutes in the fridge, it gets very firm and it will hold the candy in place while you transport and serve it.