What can you do with $10 of drugstore candy? You could eat it straight from the bags, of course, but you could also expertly arrange all of it into floral patterns on a tall frosted cake. That's what Erin Gardner, author of Erin Bakes Cake ($28), did with oodles of sweet gummmies, taffy, licorice, and Nerds candies.
The final product is an edible garden of sugary goodness. You'll be sad to cut into the beautiful bouquet, but all will be well once you see what's inside: incredible and tasty layers of white cake and buttercream. If you've got a shower or birthday party coming up, look no further. People are never disappointed by cakes that look almost too pretty to eat.
I'd like to say there's some sort of romantic, inspirational story behind the design of this cake, but there isn't. I saw a lamp. I thought the lamp looked like candy. I turned it into a cake. A candy-covered cake worthy of a sophisticated soiree.
The real story here is how to make $10 worth of drugstore candy look like a million bucks. To take candy from kiddie to chic, think outside the box. More specifically, grab a knife and get cutting. Explore what the insides of different candies look like. Discover what they look like cut in half or thirds or into tiny pieces. Combine these new shapes to mimic floral patterns from wallpaper, fabric, or in my case, a lampshade. Consider this list of candy a general outline. Get creative and use whatever is available near you.
Faux Fabulous: Skip all the knife work and create a simpler floral arrangement using premade gummy flowers and leaves.
- 6-inch round layer cake, finished in raspberry buttercream or vanilla buttercream tinted pink
- Layered chewy taffy candy or filled licorice sticks (like Hi-Chew)
- Cream-filled licorice bites (flower-shaped)
- Green and pink taffy
- Gummy peaches
- Tiny yellow crunchy candies
- Parchment paper
- Small, sharp knife
Large Open Flowers
- Cut thin slices of layered taffy candy at an angle. I made two of these flowers on the cake, one using pink candy with white centers and the other using yellow candy with white centers, but you can use whatever colors you like. As you go, separate the cut pieces and spread them out on parchment paper so that they don't stick together. Cut three to four pieces in half to form little triangles.
- Place a line of five or so cut candy pieces onto the cake. This is the top row of the front of the flower. Layer another row of cut candy pieces so that the tips of this next row overlap the first. Continue layering pieces of candy to create the shape of the flower.
- Press a semicircle of tiny yellow crunchy candies into the buttercream just above the first row of petals. Fill in the spaces between the petals with candy. Add a few of the cut triangles around the top edge of the semicircle.
- Cut thin slices of layered green taffy candy at an angle, just as you made the petals in step 2 for the large open flowers.
- Place a line of cut slices onto the cake in a row at a slight angle. Add a second row, mirroring the first, to create a shape similar to a fern leaf.
- Roll a piece of green taffy between two pieces of parchment paper. Microwave the candy for 5 seconds to soften, if needed.
- Use a small knife or leaf cookie cutter to cut leaf shapes from the taffy. Pinch the pointed ends to give the leaves shape.
Flat Open Rose
- Cut thin slices of layered taffy candy at an angle, the same as in step 2 for the large open flowers and leaves. I used white candy with an orange center, but you can use whatever colors you like.
- Place one of the tiny end slices onto the cake as the center of the rose. Add more pieces of candy, ascending in size, around the center piece.
Large Peach Rose
- Gummy peaches are flat, triangular-shaped pieces of candy. Cut all three sides off the triangle and discard (or enjoy!) the center. Repeat with two more gummy peaches.
- Place two of the cut strips onto the cake, cut-side down (like two Cs facing each other), to form the center of the flower. Add more strips around the first two, slightly cupped toward the center of the flower.
- Roll a piece of pink taffy between two pieces of parchment paper. Microwave the candy for five seconds to soften, if needed.
- Cut the candy into 1/2-inch-wide strips. Coil one of the strips up and pinch the bottom to give the coil a tapered shape. Repeat with more strips to make more tiny coiled flowers.
Tiny Blossom Clusters
- Cut a cream-filled licorice flower into thin slices. Arrange the slices on the cake in clusters, mimicking hydrangea or hyacinth plants.
All Together Now
Add the larger flowers to your cake first, and then use the smaller blossoms and leaves to fill in around them. Follow my lead and assemble a crescent-shaped arrangement on the top of your cake, build a candy garden around the sides, or create a dramatic all-over floral design.
Reprinted from Erin Bakes Cake by Erin Gardner. Copyright © 2017 by Erin Gardner. By permission of Rodale Books. Available wherever books are sold.
- Desserts, Cake
- Serves 8-10