This past weekend my daughter Lily turned four. I had the privilege of making her a special cake for her birthday. I say privileged because that's exactly what it was. To see her eyes light up on her special day when she blows the candles out on her cake is one of those moments for me, as a parent, that makes the day to day ho-hum bearable. There are many many things that I fail at when I try, but for some reason cooking and baking I seem to be OK at. It's like a gift I get to give to her, and all of my family on special days.
Lily is just like me and nothing like me. She is just like me because she has been talking about and planning out her birthday for the past six months, just like I did when I was her age. She is nothing like me because she is girly girl to the max and wanted a fancy birthday that was going to be pink pink pink, and when I was her age I was a total tomboy.
So for the past six months the two of us put our heads together and planned out her perfect party. We decided to make her party a "Fancy Nancy" themed party after one of her favorite series of children's books, so that it was all going to be pink feather boas and fluff. Of course, there had to be a cake to match. Lily wanted a vanilla cake with strawberries and pink icing. I had seen a recipe for a vanilla cake on Sweetapolita that looked amazing, so I had that part figured out. The filling was going to be some of my homemade strawberry jam with some *ahem* "fresh" strawberries from the store. The part I was having a problem with was the overall look of the cake. Until I saw a cake from a British cake company called Maisie Fantasie. The cake was heart-shaped with white chocolate curls around the perimeter and real roses on top. I showed it to Lily and she was head over heels for this cake. I just had to figure out how I was going to pull it off.
Originally I was going to pipe roses on the top. The problem is that I have never piped roses before. If that was the route I was going to take I was going to have to do it the day of the party and if I failed I was going to be sad sad sad. One night on Twitter I was talking with a couple of ladies about my ideas and concerns. One of them said that piping roses wasn't worth the trouble. She said if you were going to have edible roses on top that chocolate roses were the only way to go. I was all..."chocolate what now??"
Yup, chocolate roses, or in my case white chocolate roses dyed pink. After getting a recipe from one of those lovely ladies on Twitter and watching some videos online I set to work. I won't lie, they took some time... but the good thing about those roses was I could make a few here and a few there and store them in the refrigerator so that come party day all I had to do was assemble the cake.
I used those French wafer cookies filled with ganache to go around the sides. By doing that two great things happened; first, I was able to use half as much icing and since I'm not a big icing fan that worked out for me. Second, the cookies covered up any mistakes that might have been around the sides. Oh, and one more good thing about using those cookies was that when you ate the cake there were all these different parts to it. You had the white chocolate roses, the cookies, and then the cake itself.
Lily had so much fun. Her eyes sparkled all day. So yeah, the cake took a bit to put together, and I had to learn some new things to pull it off. But she will only turn four years old once in her lifetime. So if you ask me if it was worth it...well...do you really need to ask?
If you want to have a go at making white chocolate roses on your own someday here are the links I used to figure it out. If you learn best by videos I found this video really helpful. I also found a blog called Cake on the Brain that had really good step by step pictures of the process.
My own tips:
- I kneaded the dye (I used a pink gel dye) into the white chocolate plastique. Then I rolled out tootsie roll width logs about 6-8 inches in length and chilled them. When I went to make the roses I would cut them into the proper amount of pieces.
- I found my roses came out best when I worked with the white chocolate plastique as cold as possible. The key was to be quick and efficient with my movements.
- I also found that using my fingers to form the petal shapes worked best. I did try a few in between plastic as the video suggested but they were harder to shape that way.
- Make sure to stagger the petals so that the flower has the proper shape.