Make a birthday cake or other special day cake oh-so-adorable with candies! Cookbook author and stylist Libbie Summers shares 11 super-simple ways that cinnamon candies, jelly beans, malt balls, and other sweet favorites can make you look like a professional cake decorator in minutes.
Decorating with Candy
Candy and cake are two of our favorite treats, so why not put them together? With all of the bright colors and fun shapes out there, candy is a great tool for transforming an ordinary cake into a dessert to remember. Follow the suggestions below to decorate stand-out cakes, or get creative and use our directions to inspire your own sweet and stunning creations.
Show off your patriotic spirit by covering a cake with shiny red stars. Arrange red hot cinnamon candies in star shapes on the top and sides of a frosted layer cake.
Cake Decorating Tip: If you want to ensure your stars are all uniform in size, lightly place a star-shape cookie cutter onto the cake to use as a guide. Then, press cinnamon candies into the frosting within the lines.
Jelly Bean Shamrock
Grab your favorite flavors of green and yellow jelly beans and get to working creating this St. Patrick's Day masterpiece. Starting with green jelly beans, arrange them into a four-leaf clover on top of your cake. Once you have your outline in place, fill in the center of the shamrock with more green jelly beans. Then, fill in each leaf of the shamrock with different-colored yellow jelly beans. You can arrange the colors any way you like to mimic a faded yellow (or entirely bright green) four-leaf clover. To add a little decoration to the sides, you can trail green jelly beans down the side of the cake to make a winding stem. You also don't have to limit yourself to just shamrocks; you can use your favorite jelly beans to make a giant flower and other designs!
Militant Malt Balls
If malt balls are your candy of choice, this cake was created just for you! Liven up the party by serving a layer cake decorated with a uniform of polka dot malt balls. Simply line the malt balls up in rows along the sides and top of the cake. We recommend starting by creating a ring around the bottom layer of the cake, then working your way up the sides. Finish by making close rows on the top of the cake. Don't stress if your pattern gets a little off track—lightly press the malt balls in place so they can be easily fixed if one or two get out of line while you're decorating.
Express your love for patchwork quilts in cake-form (or just show off your skills for color-coordinating pez candies!). Grab your favorite colors of pez and coat your cake in a patchwork pattern. You can make each "patch" of candy as big or small as you like, but we recommend using six candies for each section, arranging them in two rows of three. If you're using a round cake, your patchwork won't be perfect, but you can make it as uniform as possible by patch-working the sides first, then working out from the middle of the top. Fill in the extra round spaces at the edges of the circle with a few spare pez.
Chocolate Candy Beach Ball
If you can't go to the beach, this cake will bring the beach to you! Start with a round layer cake, then arrange white-coated chocolate candies in a small circle just off the center of your cake. Then, pick your favorite colored chocolate candies to fill in the bright sections of the ball. If you want, you can create the sections of the beach ball before filling them in by standing chocolate candies up on their sides. Start each section at the round white beach ball center, then place candies out to the edge of the cake. This way, you can plan out the entire ball design using just a handful of candies. Once you have your cake divided into sections, enlist your little ones to help fill each section of the beach ball with gorgeous colored candies. Just make sure the candies are used for decorating and not snacking!
You don't have to wait for April showers to bring beautiful blooms to this cake. Get creative and use your favorite colored candies (like jelly beans, chocolate candies, and candy covered almonds) to make flowers in every size and color. Experiment with different combinations to make your flowers just the way you want; try placing a chocolate candy as the flower center, then surrounding it with jelly bean "petals." For a different look, you can also use chocolate candies as petals, but place them on their sides so they stick up from the cake. Cover the top and sides with multiple layers of petals and blooms, then present this cake for a spring celebration.
Everyone will love seeing these ladybugs land on your cake. Tightly wind thin red licorice strings into a circle to create ladybug bodies, then snip black licorice strings into small pieces for antennae. Lay another short black licorice string down the center of the red body, then place small black gumdrop slices on either side for spots. Use another larger black gumdrop slice for each ladybugs' head. Place ladybugs on the top and sides of your cake for fun, adorable decorations. You can also create a few candy flowers among the ladybugs if you want to turn your cake into a true garden scene.
White Hot Monogram
Turn any cake into a personalized treat for a birthday or special celebration by using candy to make a gorgeous monogram. To make our white-hot version, stand up white jelly beans (or use white chocolate candies) to form a monogrammed letter in the center. Then, stand up white candy covered almonds in pairs or trios around the edge of the cake for a little extra decoration. But you don't have to limit yourself to white—to make this cake more fun for a child's birthday, use their favorite color (and favorite candy) to add their initial to the cake, or use a variety of colors to make a multi-colored wonder.
Lemon Head Polka Dot Bikini
This cake has its own itsy-bitsy teeny-weeny polka dot bikini! Use round yellow lemon candies to outline a bikini shape on the top and sides of the cake, then use more lemon candies to fill it in with polka dots. To make the straps of the bikini, twine a couple of red licorice strings around the cake from the top and sides of the bikini. In no time at all, this cake is ready for an afternoon by the pool!
Circus Peanut Goldfish
Orange circus peanuts are perfect for turning into adorable swimming goldfish! Use one whole circus peanut for the body, then cut two slits on either side of one end. Cut small triangular pieces off of another circus peanut, then insert one piece into each slit to form fins. You can also make smaller goldfish by cutting a small slice all the way through one end of a circus peanut, then gently pulling the two sides apart to form a tail. Use a tiny dot of black licorice string to make an eye, and use blue chocolate candles for bubbles. Arrange the blue candies in a row leading away from the head of each goldfish to make each one look just like it's swimming through a tank.
Cotton Candy Nests
Say hello to spring with sweet candy eggs tucked inside even sweeter nests. Start by taking a small handful of cotton candy and shaping into a rough circular shape (it doesn't have to be perfect; real birds' nests are also a little irregular). Try to shape the cotton candy so that there's a small indent in the middle of the circle with higher edges all the way around it, like a real nest. Once the nest is in a shape you like, place it on top of the cake and set a couple candy eggs in the middle. You can also add a few extra candy eggs on top without a nest, or press a few into the sides of the cake for added decoration.
More Gorgeous Cake Decorating Tips
We're not finished just yet! Besides candy, there are dozens of ways to dress up a cake so it stands out from the crowd. Use our tips to learn how to make stunning decorated cakes from scratch, and how to use frosting to make any cake recipe a star.