Decorative chocolate work

There's no doubt, weekends are made for baking… Who could resist this decadent, triple layer chocolate cake? It's perfect for chocolate lovers everywhere. Chocolate can be a notoriously tricky thing to master, so we're here to help with this in-depth how-to and handy videos (see the sidebar). You'll have learned how to perfectly temper the sweet treat in next to no time!

Each component of the cake is super-simple to make – it's a great project for beginners wanting to take their baking to the next level…

Triple layer chocolate cake recipe


  • 10oz/285g margarine/baking spread/softened unsalted butter
  • 10oz/285g caster sugar
  • 5 medium eggs
  • 7oz/200g self-raising flour
  • 3oz/85g cocoa powder
  • 1 level tsp baking powder
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp milk

For the buttercream:

  • 5oz/150g unsalted butter, softened
  • 11oz/310g icing sugar, sifted
  • 3.5oz/100g white chocolate

1. Preheat the oven to 190°C / 170°C fan / gas mark 5. Grease and line three 20cm/8" cake tins. Start by beating margarine, sugar and vanilla extract in a bowl, using a wooden spoon, hand-held mixer or freestanding mixer, until creamy and light in colour. Add the eggs to the mixture one by one, beating in between each addition. Sift in flour, cocoa, salt and baking powder before adding milk and stiring together until just combined. 

2. Divide the mixture equally between the three tins and bake for 25-35 minutes until springy to touch. Take the cakes out of the oven and leave in their tins for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

3. To make the buttercream, melt the white chocolate in either a microwave or a bowl over a pan of simmering water. Let it cool slightly, but not for so long that it starts to solidify. Put the butter and half of the icing sugar in a bowl and beat together. Add the rest of the icing sugar and the melted chocolate and beat again until well combined. 

Top tip: If your cakes are domed in shape, use a serrated knife to cut the top flat, making all three cakes level. 

4. Use the white chocolate buttercream to sandwich the cakes on top of each other on a Little Venice Cake Company 10" Round Clear Work Board. Put the board on a revolving turntable and use an off-set palette knife to cover the entire cake with the buttercream, smoothing it all over and levelling the top of the cake. Leave the buttercream to set for at least 3 hours.

Top tip: If you’re in a hurry, put the cake in the fridge for an hour to set before adding the chocolate drizzle.

Chocolate ganache drizzle


  • 50g dark chocolate, finely chopped
  • 50ml double cream

1. Heat the cream in a pan until just coming up to the boil. Pour into a bowl over chopped chocolate and leave it to sit for 5 minutes whilst the chocolate melts. Stir very well until you achieve a glossy shine and texture. Leave the ganache to cool down a little.

2. Spoon the ganache over the top edge of the cake, encouraging it to dribble down the sides. (Remember when adding drizzle to the cake, the ganache must be runny but not too warm that it melts the buttercream).

Chocolate shards

1. Gather together your leftover chocolate – at least 200g. This can be just one type or a mixture of dark, milk and white chocolate. Melt the chocolates separately and line a shallow baking tray with greaseproof paper.

2. Pour the chocolate into the tray, using the back of a spoon to spread it into a rectangular shape with a thickness of approximately 5mm. (You can create a marbled effect with 2 or 3 different types of chocolate by layering teaspoons of chocolate next to each other and swirling together using a cocktail stick).

3. Immediately, whilst the chocolate is still liquid, cover it with your choice of topping and put in the fridge to set.    

4. When the chocolate has set hard, use a sharp knife to cut it into shards and decorate your cake.

Chocolate truffles


  • 150g dark chocolate, broken or chopped up into small pieces
  • 150ml double cream
  • 25g unsalted butter

1. Put the cream and butter into a pan and heat until the butter has melted and the cream is just steaming. Place the chocolate in a bowl and pour over the hot cream and butter. Leave to sit for 5 minutes whilst the chocolate melts and mix very well until a glossy ganache is achieved. 

2. Chill the mixture in the fridge for at least 3 hours. To shape the truffles, dip a melon baller in hot water and use to scoop out balls of the mixture. Drop the truffle balls onto greaseproof paper and roll them in a selection of coatings, such as cocoa powder, coconut, chopped pistachios and freeze-dried strawberry pieces.

Top tip: If you don’t have a melon baller you can use a teaspoon to scoop the mixture and roll into balls with your hands. Rub a little vegetable oil into your palms to stop it from sticking.

3. Keep the truffles in the fridge until you are ready to use them.

Piped chocolate butterflies

1. Find a picture of a butterfly to use for your template and print the image, and a few extras, in the size that you require. Cut each butterfly in half along the body and stick these to a piece of blank paper to make your template. Secure the template to your work surface and cover with non-stick paper. Tape this in position.

2. Melt 50g of white chocolate, fit a piping bag with a medium writer nozzle and fill with chocolate. Trace the outline of each butterfly half, adding some detail to the wings. Leave to set or place in the fridge. Once the wings have set, slide a palette knife under each wing to loosen it. To form the butterfly, prop up one wing with a ball of cling film and use a little melted chocolate on a cocktail stick to glue the two halves together.

3. When decorating the chocolate cake, start with the tallest chocolate shards towards the middle and back, and place the smaller shards towards the front. Position the truffles around the edge and finish with a chocolate butterfly. 

Project and how-to instructions by Lucy Bruns. Project originally published in issue 66 of docrafts Creativity magazine.

Make sure to pick up your copy online or in your local craft store. Alternatively, why not subscribe? We love seeing your makes. Share them with us on Facebook or hashtag your project on Twitter or Instagram with #docrafts.

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