joyce's 70th and candy melt flowers

The same weekend that my Dad turned 70, one of my parents' best friends, Joyce, also turned 70. These two food-lovers have celebrated lots of milestone birthdays together now! Joyce's kids threw a big party for her and they asked me to make Joyce's favorite chocolate cake. She has ordered it from me on two prior occasions - I think it might be becoming their family's signature cake. (Is that a thing? I'd like to have a signature cake.) As far as I'm concerned, you can never go wrong with a dark chocolate cake, filled with chocolate buttermilk frosting, and covered in chocolate ganache. I accented the chocolate with colorful candy melt flowers and used them to pipe happy birthday lettering as well.

The candy flowers are super easy to make. I learned how from these handy-dandy instructions at My Cake School. The candies melt easily, and they pipe smoothly onto parchment paper where they set up within minutes. If you mess up, you can scrape off the melted chocolate and try again. You can even re-melt it it need be. You do need to work pretty quickly, however. The chocolate in the piping bag starts to set up rather quickly, which can also plug up the piping tip. (Use a small tip, size 2, or 3, for the most control and the most delicate petals.) By resting the piping bag on a heating pad if you need a break, the chocolate will remain melted and pipe-able. But the best bet is just to work quickly, with only a small amount of candy melts at a time.

I stored the firmed-up flowers in a Tupperware in the fridge in between layers of waxed paper. Run a small offset spatula under them to remove them gently from the parchment paper. As you'd expect, they're extremely delicate, so I recommend piping more than you need in case of breakage. They will keep for at least a week. To stick them to the cake, simply pipe a small dab of frosting on the back of the flower and press gently onto the cake.

I've covered the cake and frosting recipes before, but here are links to them:

Martha Stewart's One-Bowl Chocolate Cake
Chocolate Ganache
Chocolate Buttermilk Frosting 

Joyce's family loved the cake, and I loved getting to help our good friend celebrate an important day!