Category Archives: Tutorials

Easy Smash Cake Ideas

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Smash cakes seem to be a rite of passage for many of today’s children, and I wanted to share a few easy ways to decorate them! These smash cakes are inspired by Baked by Melissa’s (Melissa Ben-Ishay) new cake book! It includes a banana smash cake with a straight peanut butter filling, which she used to celebrate her daughter’s first birthday. This helps keep the sugar levels low in the cake…or at least lower than a normal cake! If you’re interested in ordering her book, you can click here.

I was able to make 3 smash cakes out of one batch of a banana cake recipe, which I baked in two half sheet pan! I built each smash cake using 4 inch circle cut outs. Each cake was built with three layers (total of 12 cut outs). You could definitely make larger cut outs if desired, or bake the layers in cake pans as opposed to doing cut outs.

I made three different designs; one was covered covered in sprinkles (easiest), one was decorated with buttercream flowers (more difficult), and another was decorated like a monster (moderate difficulty). Below is a full video tutorial showing how each smash cake is decorated:

The tools and recipes you need to make these cakes can be found below:

Recipes:

  • 1 batch of your favorite banana cake (this is mine)
  • 1 cup of your favorite frosting (here’s mine)
  • 1 small jar of your favorite smooth peanut butter (I used Skippy’s)

Sprinkle Smash Cake Decoration:

  • one jar of rainbow jimmies

Pink Flower Smash Cake Decoration:

  • pink food coloring (I use americolor gel food coloring)
  • green food coloring
  • frosting piping bags (or ziploc bags)
  • Wilton 1M tip (open star)
  • Wilton 103 tip (petal tip) – optional

Blue and Green Monster Smash Cake Decoration:

  • blue food coloring (I use americolor gel food coloring)
  • green food coloring
  • frosting piping bags (or ziploc bags)
  • grass frosting tip (wilton 233)
  • black and white fondant

Once the cake batter is baked and cooled, cut out circles of desired size.

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Stack the layers, applying an even layer of peanut butter between each layer. Chill cake in freeze for roughly 10 minutes. This will make them much easier to frost.

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Once chilled, apply a thin layer of frosting (crumb coat) using an offset spatula or butter knife. Be sure to cover the entire cake, so that all the crumbs from the cake layers will be locked in place. Chill the cake in the fridge or freezer until the frosting is firm to the touch (5-15 minutes), then add a second, thicker layer of frosting. Smooth using an offset spatula, and a bench scraper.

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For the sprinkle version, take a handful of sprinkles, and very gently press them into the frosting. You want to press just firmly enough to stick them into the frosting, but not hard enough to cause an indentation in the smooth frosting.

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To make the pink flower version, color 5/6 of the left over frosting pink, and color 1/6 of it green. Add dabs of pink frosting around the cake, and smooth around the cake to create a watercolor effect. Place some pink frosting into a piping bag with a wilton 1M tip, and pipe buttercream rosettes on top of the cake. If you have a wilton 103 or 104 tip, pipe roses onto parchment squares, and freeze until they’re firm to the touch (as seen here). Gently peel them off the parchment paper, and place on top of the cake. Add small dabs of green frosting between the flowers, to look like leaves.

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To make the monster-inspired cake, divide the remaining frosting evenly between two bowls, and color blue and green. Place colored frosting into two separate bags with a grass tip. Starting at the base of the cake, pipe horizontal stripes of blue and green around the cake, until it is fully covered. Make fondant horns and eyes (could also use an oreo cookie for the eye, and macadamia nuts or almonds for the horns), and gently press into buttercream.

And then it’s time to place the smash cake in front of your adorable baby and see what happens!! Most kids get pretty into it, and tend to make a mess! Be sure to have a camera ready to capture the moment 🙂

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Rice Krispie Burger Cake

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@Mister_Krisp and I made this rice krispie burger cake to celebrate the launch of her book, Treat Yourself! You can order a copy of it here: https://www.amazon.com/Treat-Yourself-Ridiculously-No-Bake-Crispy/dp/0761189807

Treat Yourself! is the perfect answer for any cook, crafty food lover, or creative parent looking to make crowd-pleasing and personalized treats for birthdays, holidays, school events, and virtually every other occasion. With no baking required, these playful, visually dazzling sweets are simple enough for anyone to whip up.

The full recipe can be found below:

Burger Buns:

  • 2 1/2 cups (324g) all purpose flour
  • 2 cups (424g) sugar
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup (240ml) buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) vegetable oil
  • 3 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 large egg
  • 1 cup (240ml) water

Rice Krispie Burger Patty:

  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 3 cups mini marshmallows
  • 4 cups rice krispies

Vanilla American Buttercream Frosting:

  • 4 sticks (2 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 8 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp. heavy cream
  • 2 tsp vanilla

Additional Decorations:

  • 8 half circle cutouts of red fondant (tomatoes)
  • 4 large yellow triangles of fondant (cheese)
  • white sesame seeds (optional)

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C) and grease and line 2 8 inch round baking pans.

Begin by making the burger buns. Add the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt to a large mixer bowl and gently mix. Add the buttermilk, and gently stir until just combined. Next, add in the water, vanilla, and  vegetable oil, and mix until the batter comes together. Next, mix in the eggs (one at a time) until well combined.

Pour into lined pans, and bake for roughly 30 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Let layers cool in pan for 10 minutes, then place in freezer to cool fully.

To make the rice krispie burger patty, melt 2 tbsp butter. Add 3 cups mini marshmallows and stir until coated and 75% melted, add brown food coloring. Turn off burner and add 4 cups Rice Krispies, stir until coated and pour the mixture into greased 7″ cake ring, press to edges.

While the cake and krispie layers cool, prepare the vanilla frosting. Beat the butter on medium speed for 30 seconds with a paddle attachment, until smooth. Slowly add in the powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time. Add the heavy cream half way through. Once fully mixed, add in the vanilla and salt, and beat on medium low until the ingredients are fully incorporated, and the desired consistency is reached. If the frosting is too thick, add in cream (1 teaspoon at a time). If the frosting is too thin, add in more powdered sugar (quarter of a cup at a time).

Color 2/3 of the frosting tan using a couple drops of brown and yellow food coloring. Divide the remaining frosting between three bowls , coloring one green (lettuce), one red (ketchup), and one yellow (mustard).

To assemble the cake, first trim one cake layer to make it;s shape resemble a dome. Place the bottom cake but on a cake round, and place the top bun onto a flat surface. Smooth the tan frosting onto the two cake layers using an offset spatula, and an acetate sheet. Sprinkle sesame seeds onto to top, rounded bun.

Place the burger patty onto the bottom bun, then drape the yellow fondant triangles over the sides of the patty. Place green frosting into a piping bag with petal tip (Wilton 402), and pipe ruffles around the perimeter of the patty.

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Place red fondant semicircles on top of the lettuce, and fill the center with the red and yellow buttercream. Gently lift the top burger bun up using a larger offset spatula, and place on top of the cake.

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Then it’s time to slice in and enjoy!! I’m always amazed at how delicious cake and rice krispies are together!!

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Margarita Trifle

This month for Cosmopolitan I made a Margarita Trifle!! To make this trifle even more festive, I assembled the trifle in a giant cocktail glass. I used my favorite vanilla cake layer recipe, a triple sec and tequila simple syrup, and a lime buttercream. The full video can be seen here. I will also have the full tutorial up on my Youtube channel soon! The recipes used can be found below:

Lime Cake Layers:

  • 3 1/4 cup flour
  • 3 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks), room temperature
  • 1 cup egg whites (about 7 large egg whites)
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk, room temperature
  • 1/8 cup vegetable oil
  • zest of 1 lime
  • 1 tsp lime extract
  • lime green gel food coloring (I used Americolor Gel Food Coloring in the Electric green shade)

Lime American Buttercream Ingredients:

  • 4 sticks (2 cups) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 8 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp. heavy cream
  • zest of 2 limes
  • juice of 1/2 a lime

Tequila Triple Sec Simple Syrup

  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 Tbsp tequila
  • 2 Tbsp Triple Sec

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and line four 8” round pans.

Mix together all dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt) in a stand mixer with a paddle until fully combined.

Mix chunks of room-temperature butter slowly into the dry mix, on a low speed. Continue to mix until no large chunks of butter remain, and the mixture becomes crumbly.

Pour in egg whites, and mix on low until just incorporated.  Mix in the buttermilk in two installments, on a low speed. Add in vanilla and oil, and mix at a low speed until fully incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula, then beat on medium high for about 30 seconds.

Divide evenly between the prepared cake pans. Bake for 35 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean. Allow to cool for 10 minutes, then run an offset spatula around perimeter of the pan to separate the cake from the pan. Place cake layers on a rack to finish cooling.

While the cake layers bake and cool, prepare the simple syrup. Place the sugar and water in a heat proof pan, and heat on a medium high heat until boiling. Reduce the heat to allow the mixture to simmer until all the sugar is dissolved (2-3 minutes). Add in the tequila and triple sec, and remove from heat. Allow the mixture to cool.

Next, make the lime buttercream. Beat the butter on high for 30 seconds with a paddle attachment, until smooth. Slowly add in the powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time. Alternate with small splashes of cream. Once fully mixed, add in the lime zest, lime juice, and salt, and beat on medium low until the ingredients are fully incorporated, and the desired consistency is reached. If the frosting is too thick, add in cream (1 teaspoon at a time). If the frosting is too thin, add in more powdered sugar (quarter of a cup at a time).

To assemble to cake, begin by adding a sugar rim to your container. Run a lime slice around the perimeter of the container, then dip into sugar.

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Crumb the cake layers into a bowl using a fork.

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Place some cake bits at the base of the container, and gently press down into a flat layer using your palms.

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Drizzle the simple syrup over the cake pieces. Pipe on an even layer of buttercream, and repeat until container is full.

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Top with green sprinkles, a straw and a lime! Then it’s time to dive in. Happy hour just got a whole lot sweeter 😛 It could also be fun to make miniature version of these in individual sized containers for a party!

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Giant Ice Cream Cone Cake

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This month, Cosmopolitan asked me to make a giant ice cream cone cake. I could not have been more excited, especially since ice cream is actually my favorite dessert!! This cake ended up being quite a bit larger than planned, but you could easily half the recipe and make a smaller version of this cake. Another fun idea would be to hollow out the center of the cake, and fill it with softened ice cream. I used my favorite vanilla layer cake (bakes perfectly flat, no need to level the layers!), and a strawberry and chocolate peanut butter buttercream to decorate. I also topped the cake with some chocolate ganache, and sprinkles. The recipes I used can be found below:

Vanilla Cake layers:

  • 4 3/4 cups flour
  • 4 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter (3 sticks), room temperature
  • 3 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cup egg whites (about 11 large egg whites – I use carton egg whites to avoid wasting yolks)
  • 2 1/4 cups buttermilk, room temperature
  • 1/8 cup vegetable oil
  • pink gel food coloring

Frosting Recipe:

  • 8 sticks (4 cups) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 16 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 3 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup strawberry puree reduction
  • pink gel food coloring

Additional Decorations:

  • chocolate ganache
  • sprinkles
  • a cherry

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and line three 8” round pans, and one 7″ round pan. Also grease and line one 8″ dome pan.

Mix together all dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt) in a stand mixer with a paddle until fully combined.

Mix chunks of room-temperature butter slowly into the dry mix, on a low speed. Continue to mix until no large chunks of butter remain, and the mixture becomes crumbly.

Pour in egg whites, and mix on low until just incorporated.  Mix in the buttermilk in two installments, on a low speed. Add in vanilla and oil, and mix at a low speed until fully incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula, then beat on medium high for about 30 seconds.

Place 1/3 of batter into a separate bowl, and color a light shade of pink with gel food coloring. Pour pink batter into dome shaped pan. Divide remaining, uncolored batter evenly between the prepared round cake pans. Bake round pans for 35 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean. Bake the domed pan for 1 hour and 30 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean.

Allow to cool for 10 minutes, then run an offset spatula around perimeter of the pan to separate the cake from the pan. Place cake layers on a rack to finish cooling.

While the layers bake and cool, prepare the buttercream.

Beat the butter on high for 30 seconds with a paddle attachment, until smooth. Slowly add in the powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time. Alternate with small splashes of cream. Once fully mixed, add in the vanilla and salt, and beat on medium low until the ingredients are fully incorporated, and the desired consistency is reached. If the frosting is too thick, add in cream (1 teaspoon at a time). If the frosting is too thin, add in more powdered sugar (quarter of a cup at a time).

Place 1/3 of the frosting into a separate bowl. Mix in the strawberry puree, and a drop of pink gel food coloring. Set aside. Mix peanut butter and cocoa powder into remaining frosting, to create a light brown shade of frosting.

NOTE: When making frosting for a cake, it is important to mix the buttercream on low at the end of the process for a couple minutes, to get out any extra air that might have be incorporated during the mixing process. This will make it easier to get super smooth sides on your cake!

To assemble the cake, stack and frost the round cake layers with the chocolate peanut butter buttercream. Placing the 7 inch cake layer on top. Using a serrated knife, trim at angle from the top of the cake down to the base, to taper the sides.x

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Once trimmed, apply a thin crumb coat and chill the cake for the fridge or freezer until firm. Apply a second layer of the chocolate peanut butter frosting, and smooth with a bench scraper. Clean bench scraper, and warm blade with dipping it in extremely warm water. Use the warmed edge to score the frosting with diagonal lines, 1 cm apart, in the pattern of a cone.

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Chill cake in fridge until firm, then flip the cake over using an additional cake round. Cover and smooth the new top of the cake with buttercream.

Trim the browned edges from the pink cake dome, then apply a crumb coat with the strawberry buttercream.

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Chill, then apply a second, thicker layer of frosting. Smooth with a piece of acetate sheet or a flexible bowl scraper. Chill again, until frosting is firm. Once the frosting is fully chilled, spread some chocolate ganache on top of the dome, add sprinkles, and top with a cherry.

Once both cake layers are chilled, gently place the pink dome on top of the cone.

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Place additional pink frosting into a piping bag, and pipe a boarder around the the based on the pink dome.

MVI_8445_Moment(3) And that’s it! This cake is very large, and can feed 25-30 people. It would be perfect for a summertime party, or a large birthday party 🙂

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Easy Pineapple Cake

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For this week’s live stream with the Food Network, I wanted to make something summery! I’ve recently started a food-themed cake series on my YouTube channel, so I thought a pineapple cake would be perfect! The design is inspired by Lyndsay (Coco Cake Land). The recipe used can be seen below:

Vanilla Cake Ingredients:

  • 3 1/4 cup flour
  • 3 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks), room temperature
  • 3 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup egg whites (about 7 large egg whites)
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk, room temperature
  • 1/8 cup vegetable oil
  • yellow gel food coloring

Pineapple Frosting:

  • 8 sticks (4 cups) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 16 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/3 cup pineapple reduction (pineapple puree, strained and reduced over medium heat to half of volume)
  • yellow gel food coloring

Additional items:

  • green fondant
  • black fondant
  • white fondant
  • tooth picks
  • Wilton 4b decorating tip
  • piping bags

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and line four 7” round pans, and one 6″ cake pan.

Begin by making the cake batter. Mix together all dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt) in a stand mixer with a paddle until fully combined.

Mix chunks of room-temperature butter slowly into the dry mix, on a low speed. Continue to mix until no large chunks of butter remain, and the mixture becomes crumbly.

Pour in egg whites, and mix on low until just incorporated.  Mix in the buttermilk in two installments, on a low speed. Add in vanilla, yellow gel food coloring, and oil, and mix at a low speed until fully incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula, then beat on medium high for about 30 seconds.

Divide evenly between the prepared cake pans. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean. Allow to cool for 10 minutes, then run an offset spatula around perimeter of the pan to separate the cake from the pan. Place cake layers on a rack to finish cooling.

While the cake layers bake and cool, make the fondant details for the cake decoration. For the eyes and face for the pineapple, use the white and black fondant. Mix tylose powder into the green fondant (speeds up the drying process). Roll the green fondant to 1/4 inch thickness, and cut into the shape of pineapple leaves. Make 4-5 tall leaves, 8-10 medium sized leaves, and 12-15 smaller leaves. Insert toothpicks in the base of the leaves, and place on parchment paper to firm up.

Next, prepare the frosting. Beat the butter on high for 30 seconds with a paddle attachment, until smooth. Slowly add in the powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time. Alternate with small splashes of cream. Once fully mixed, add in the pineapple reduction, vanilla, and salt, and beat on medium low until the ingredients are fully incorporated, and the desired consistency is reached. If the frosting is too thick, add in cream (1 teaspoon at a time). If the frosting is too thin, add in more powdered sugar (quarter of a cup at a time). Color 2/3 of the frosting yellow with gel food coloring.

For the cake assembly, stack and frost cake layers with the pineapple buttercream. Stack the 7 inch cake layers, then top the cake with the 6 inch cake layer. Apply a thin crumb coat, rounding out the top of top of the cake with frosting. Chill cake in the freezer for 5 minutes. Once the crumb coat is firm to the touch, apply a thick, second layer of frosting with the yellow buttercream. Smooth with a bench scraper.

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Using a bit of frosting, secure the fondant eyes and smile onto the cake. Place the remaining yellow frosting into a piping bag with a Wilton 4b tip, and pipe frosting points onto all around the cake.

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Add some extra frosting to the top of the cake, and insert the hardened leaves onto the top of the cake. Begin with the largest leaves at the very top of the cake, then make a circle with the medium sized leaves around them.

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Using the smallest leaves, circle the larger leaves. And just like that, the pineapple cake is complete!

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How to Make A Purple Geode Cake

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I finally hoped on the geode cake band wagon this weekend, and found that it is WAY easier to make a geode cake than I thought! All you need is a frosted cake, some white/clear rock candy, gel food coloring, and a little vodka!

I was inspired by an amazing geode wedding cake made by Intricate Icings Cake Design, and also added a gold boarder with edible gold paint. I modified the design to make it a bit more approachable for all of us home bakers!

I used my favorite vanilla layer cake recipe (bakes perfectly flat), which I colored purple with gel food coloring. I baked 4, 8-inch round cake layers, and frosted the layers with american buttercream (I used 1.5 batches). Once stacked, I applied a thin crumb coat around the cake, and trimmed a triangle from one side of the cake.

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I then covered the exposed area with frosting, and let the cake chill in the freezer for about 5 minutes, until the crumb coat is firm to the touch. Apply a second layer of frosting, and smooth using a bench scrapper. Gently press crushed rock candy into the cut area of the cake. I started with the larger chunks of candy, then filled in with smaller bits of candy.

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Mix together a few drops of vodka and large squeeze of purple gel food coloring. Using a sterile paint brush, gently dab the mixture into the center of the candy area.

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Rinse off and dry your paint brush, and add some additional vodka into the gel food coloring to dilute the mixture. Brush around the dark purple center, gradually spreading the lighter purple liquid out towards the edge of the candy covered area. Leave the rock candy around the edge uncolored. I also painted the edge of the candy area with a boarder of edible gold paint.

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And that’s it! It’s that easy!!! If would also be fun to use a grey buttercream (or even an oreo buttercream), to make the cake look more like a rock.

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Lisa Frank Inspired Rainbow Glaze Cake

I’ve made a few different mirror glaze cakes, but this one is definitely the most colorful! It’s inspired by the colorful designs of Lisa Frank, a brand that all us millennials hold near and dear to our hearts!!  Although the traditional mirror glaze recipe involves more ingredients and additional equipment, this easy, 5 ingredient recipe makes the technique way more approachable. I tweaked the recipe to include a bit more white chocolate, to make more vibrant rainbow colors. A full tutorial showing how to make a mirror glaze cake is also up on my YouTube channel.

I work primarily work with buttercream cakes, and have found that you can pour mirror glaze over a classic buttercream cake, as long as it is fully frozen, and the frosting is extremely smooth.

The recipe I used can be found below, and I’ve also made a tutorial on my YouTube channel!

White Chocolate Glaze:

  • 1.5 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 cups miniature white chocolate chips
  • 2 Tbsp. unflavored gelatin (bloomed in 1/4 cup of additional water)
  • gel food coloring (blue, green, yellow, orange, pink, and red)

Equipment:

  • medium sized pot
  • sieve
  • thermometer

Instructions:

Mix the gelatin in a bowl with 1/4 cup of water, and set aside to let it bloom while you begin the glaze. Over a medium heat, stir together the sugar, cup of water, and sweetened condensed milk. Stir occasionally, until the mixture begins to bubble. At this point, pour in the gelatin, and stir until fully dissolved. Then turn off the heat, and gently pour in the white chocolate chips. Stir slowly, until all the white chocolate has melted. Pour through a sieve into a large bowl, then divide the glaze evenly between six bowls. Color the other bowls pink, purple, blue, green, yellow, and orange. I replaced the color red with pink, to match the Lisa Frank color scheme. Continue to stir the glazes occasionally to stop a skin from forming, until the glaze has reached 85 degrees, or is about room temperature.

I made my cake out of my favorite vanilla layer cake recipe and my vanilla buttercream. I trimmed my cake into the shape of a heart, and made my frosting as smooth as possible. It is important that the cake is made on a cake round the exact same size as the frosted cake, so that the glaze can run off seamlessly. I trimmed a cake round into the shape of a heart, and frosted the cake to the edge of the cardboard base.

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Freeze the cake for a few hours (must be fully frozen for the glaze to stick to the cake), and place on a circular object, on top of a large baking sheet. I placed a 4-inch cake pan underneath my cake, then slowly pour the colored glaze in stripes onto the cake.

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Drizzle thin lines of the excess glaze over the top of the cake, to give it a psychedelic look.

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Let it continue to drip for about 10 minutes, then scrape away the excess drips around the base of the cake and placed it in the fridge.

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See? So easy!!!

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