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Jun 8, 2011 10:49 AM

Cake Decorating with a Chocolate Bow

I'll be making an Opera Cake for a very special person in a few weeks and want to decorate it just as shown:

At first I wasn't sure if it had to be made by using fondant or if you can use chocolate, but I'd prefer to do chocolate. Information seems to be limited on this, maybe I'm not searching in the right places. I'm open to doing a fondant version if it's easy and realistic looking and I'm sure I have dark brown coloring.

I've been able to come up with a few articles and short video clips but what I need is a really good step by step reference so that I can at least see if this is something I can attempt (not the creative type so I may have a huge chocolate mess on my hands.) Anything you can think of that would make this real easy would be greatly appreciated. Thanks always!

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  1. Bon Appetit Magazine made a big cake with chocolate ribbons you should check out:

    4 Replies
    1. re: Claudette

      Thanks Claudette, I think this one might still be too fussy for me and more importantly no pasta machine here. If I could I'd probably just go buy one but if I find something very basic I'll attempt it. I like the way they made the chocolate into modeling chocolate, I bet its easier to work with.

      1. re: lilgi

        lilgi - you don't need a pasta machine because the modeling chocolate is very easy to roll out with just a rolling pin. I taught my daughter to make it and use it when she was young, and we've also used it to make little animals, etc., for her cakes.

        1. re: Claudette

          I'll give this a try if I can make the same bow I posted above. I'm hoping the loops aren't too floppy to retain that shape.

      2. re: Claudette

        I made this show-stopper back when it first appeared in the magazine. People are still talking about it.

      3. I'm not sure if this will help, or just confuse you more.

        You can make a bow from tempered chocolate or chocolate plastic. The tempered chocolate will take more skill, as you need to keep the chocolate in temper as you complete each loop. The end result will be shiny. The chocolate plastic tastes kind of like a tootsie roll. It is chocolate and corn syrup or glucose. It has more of mat finish, but can be manipulated with your hands, so is much easier.

        The Nick Malgeiri plastic recipe from his Chocolate book uses 2/3 c. light corn syrup to one pound of melted semisweet chocolate. You stir them together, making sure they are fully incorporated, then spread it out and let it rest on a plastic wrapped pan at a thickness no greater than 1/3". You wrap it completely, then let it rest for several hours. You can then roll it out in a pasta machine or by hand, using cocoa powder to "flour" your surfaces. If you have access to this book, and it has a whole chapter at the end of working with chocolate plastic. After cutting ribbons from the plastic, you loop them over themselves into a kind of teardrop formation. You should be able to pinch the individual loops together to form the bow. I think it is easier to work with than fondant, and has a better flavor if you were going to eat it.

        With tempered chocolate, you would cut acetate strips, coat them with chocolate, and loop them over (chocolate inside, acetate outside) to the teardrop formation. You can secure them with a binder clip or something similar until they set up. Once they are all fully set up, you carefully remove the acetate, then attach the pieces together with tempered chocolate. It is best to wear gloves to avoid leaving fingerprints on the shiny surface. Each piece needs to be supported until it sets to achieve the proper shape.

        Does that make any sense?

        4 Replies
        1. re: maxie

          I don't have the book but I should be able to get it from the library. I don't have the patience I used to have but I'm willing to have a look at this and try. I appreciate this, thanks.

          1. re: lilgi

            The chocolate plastic is super easy to work with. I think if you mess around with some, you will find the bow pretty easy to make.

            1. re: maxie

              Thanks, I'm glad I have plenty of time to do this and store it. I'll check this out, not feeling too hopeless now ;)

          2. re: maxie

            That's the way to do it. Elaine Gonzales does it that way too. Chocolate modeling clay is what one of them calls it and then smear it on acetate strips.

          3. Okay, sorry I'm a little bit slow on this - basically both posts are plastic chocolate, I can simply follow the recipe using a rolling pin from Claudette's post along with Maxie's tips (last paragraph) and use gloves and cocoa powder. Roll on marble. The top loop would have to overlap one end over the other whereas the other loops would surround the top by joining the ends together (not overlapping but forming a loop).

            I think I got this, I figure I'd need a little melted chocolate to bring everything together and if the binder clip doesn't affect the chocolate this will work. I hope this makes sense.

            I had trouble visualizing what I had to do. I think this will work, I'll get to work on it soon, hopefully this weekend. I'll let you know how I do. Thanks so much!

            2 Replies
            1. re: lilgi

              If you use the plastic, you shouldn't need the binder clips. You can just pinch the ends together with your fingers. (The binder clips are useful for tempered chocolate). Melted chocolate may help you secure the pieces together, but it may not be necessary -- you should be able to pinch them together.

              1. re: maxie

                Maxie, your instructions are great; I went back last night and reread everything and even found a few more articles which I'll post below.

            2. It's pretty straightforward with tempered chocolate. Instead of buying special acetate, I get florist plastic from the grocery store (some will give you it free, others charge a nominal amount). You don't get the pretty design but w/ tempered chocolate, you get a nice shiny sheen. I've also added glitter to the acetate. If you look at this video, about the three minute mark, there's a part about making the loop.


              2 Replies
              1. re: chowser

                I got the impression you could simply use wax paper, no? Id like a plain bow with no designs (as in the photo), but the other thing is that since I don't want to do this, I just want it to be real easy. I'd decided last night on molding chocolate but now back to undecided again. And if waste is going to be an issue then I'm probably better off by doing the molding chocolate. Not sure which I'm deciding on yet. Thanks for the link.

                1. re: lilgi

                  Hmm, I was taught to use acetate so that's what I've stuck with but don't see why wax paper or parchment wouldn't work. Maybe for larger pieces, it doesn't have as much support but for something like this, it would be fine. Molding chocolate would be easier for a first time project. While tempering chocolate isn't that hard, it does take time to get the right temperature, seed, etc. And, if it's off, you only know in the end and then it's too late.

              2. I was able to come up with a couple of guides last night after some more searching which I'll post. Both are using tempered chocolate:



                Hank I think you mentioned the author of the second one. The tempered chocolate seems easy enough method as well but I'm still leaning towards the molding chocolate.

                2 Replies
                1. re: lilgi

                  Yes, that article is from Elaine Gonzalez' book, "The Art of Chocolate". I think she talks about it in "Chocolate Artistry" too, which is a much older book.

                  You can make a gift box with a lid and a bow on the lid....all out of chocolate. Then you could fill the box with truffles.....

                  My arteries are hardening just thinking about it.

                  1. re: Hank Hanover

                    I was supposed to do the box for Mother's Day; with so many projects, I've postponed the ones that need the most attention or the ones that have several steps involved; my cannoli have taken a backseat as well.

                    I took the "path of least resistance" and made the modeling chocolate. Will start on it as soon as I have the chance this weekend.

                    I liked her article but her instructions are for a smaller bow; if I have to do this again (and use tempered chocolate), I'll have to cut ribbons almost twice the size because I prefer them much bigger (with thicker strands).