This week’s cake decorating tutorial is brought to you by the season of Autumn. Oh, and candy. Lots and lots of homemade candy.
I really wanted to make a joke about needing to call a bling hotline (a’la the song Hotline Bling by Drake), but apparently that would mean I’m looking to have a booty call. Who the hell do I call if I just want to talk about my bling addiction? Lame.
Prior to beginning you’ll need a candy thermometer as well as some candy molds. This multifaceted gem mold by Lorann really hits the spot. You may be wondering what the point is in making your own candy when you could just buy a couple bags of jolly ranchers and call it a day. Good question. You can totally do that. But what I like about this tray (besides the rectangular gem shape) is that the resulting candies are about 50% thinner than jolly ranchers, producing candies that are less bulky and more translucent.
It comes in a set with two other trays as well. One with hexagonal shapes, the other with miscellaneous jewels.
Making the candy is pretty easy. Add one cup of sugar, 1/2 cup of water, and 1/2 cup of light corn syrup to a small sauce pot. I liked how this one has pourable sides. Comes in handy later.
Bring the mixture to a boil over medium high heat. You can stir it a bit in the beginning to make sure all the sugar dissolves, but once it starts bubbling it’s best to stick to gently swirling the pan.
It will take a bit of time, but you want to remove it from the heat when it reaches 300° F–310° F/148° C–154° C. This is the hard-crack stage.
The mixture will continue to bubble for a while. Now is the perfect time to add your gel color. Keep in mind that the syrup has naturally taken on an amber tone so it may be difficult to reach your desired shade. Your light blue may look green, your pink may look a bit orange–you get the idea.
This is where those pourable sides of my pot came in handy. You need to slooooowly pour the syrup into each of the little cavities, trying your darndest to not overfill them. Which is nearly impossible. When you overfill them even just a little it creates a little ridge around each rectangle and makes it difficult to stack them evenly. Important: spray your molds with cooking spray before using!
It doesn’t take that long for the candy to harden. Afterwards you just pop them out of the tray like ice cubes. If you look at the candy on the bottom right you can see what I mean about that little extra ledge. Kill it with fire. Or like, snap it off carefully with a knife. Or just eat it and pretend it never existed.
You could always double the syrup recipe and then transfer it into two different bowls to color it, but that shit is hot. No thanks. I made another batch in a different pot and opted not to color it at all (notice the natural amber color). Instead, I splattered the tray with edible gold liquid.
There are tons of gold dusts on the market. My favorite is “super gold” by Rolkem (you can find it on etsy). Just mix a few drops of vodka (or lemon extract) in with the dust and it becomes a shimmery gold liquid.
I had a lot of remaining sugar syrup left over so I filled in a few cavities on the misc gem tray. This was a bit harder to do since gems are so far apart. Ledge galore. If you’re wondering what those little specks are, it’s just some overspray from my gold brush. As if I’d be mad about that. Just call me Queen Midas.
When that got boring I poured the rest on some parchment paper and carefully tilted the paper to spread it out. Be careful though! Once again, this syrup is hot. I splattered it with more gold and then snapped it in a million pieces after it set.
Okay, so onto the good stuff finally. Place the first row of gems around the base of the cake. If you need a reference, I used about a tray and half full of gems to cover this small 3 layer 4-inch cake (it ended up being about 6 inches tall). As you can see, you may need to double up on a color when you get to the last gem. That’s okay. Just consider it the back of the cake and attempt to keep the pattern consistent on the other side.
Here is the cake turned 180º so that the front is now forward. Each time I began a new row I placed the candy in the middle of the two gems under it. At this point I made it I made it halfway up the cake so I decided to do it the other way to make a sort of chevron pattern.
(Shhhhh It’s best not to think about what a pain in the ass the cake will be to cut. 😛 But if you want to avoid this predicament I recommend not staggering the candy.)
Afterward, you can adjust your gem placement with a toothpick or skewer.
Now take some of those candy shards you made earlier and stab them right into the cake.
And top with a pile of your remaining candy gems.
You can also dab a little gold leaf on those shards to really glam it up if you have some on hand.
And there you have it! Be sure to check out my other cake tutorials. You can find them in the navigation menu at the top of this page. 🙂
Until next time <3