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TIP OF THE DAY: Have A Cake Decorating Party

You won’t believe how easy it is to decorate
this cake, using products by Duff Goldman
for Gartner Studios. Photo courtesy Gartner


Our cake design (not the one in the photo—more about that below) recently “took the cake.” It was selected as the winner of a cake decorating contest by Duff Goldman, the Ace of Cakes himself. And it inspired today’s tip: Have a cake decorating party.

But first, a recap. In this contest, we were competing against other members of the press. The reason: a media event held by Godiva Chocolatier to announce Godiva’s externship scholarship for outstanding pastry students at the Culinary Institute of America.

To enable them to further develop their chocolate-making skills, six CIA pastry students will spend 18 weeks in Godiva’s test kitchen with master chocolatiers. The externships will take place over the next two years.

Casey Shea, the first recipient of the Godiva Chocolatier Scholarship, presented one of her externship creations: a sophisticated cappuccino bonbon, milk chocolate filled with cappuccino creme. We enjoyed it with a shot of Godiva Chocolate Infused Vodka, a really excellent infusion of chocolate into vodka.


Sidebar on Godiva spirits: Godiva Chocolate Raspberry Infused Vodka is also a treat, as are all of the Godiva chocolate liqueurs—Caramel, Chocolate, Milk Chocolate, Mocha and White Chocolate. Add some to coffee, hot chocolate, a milkshake or straight into a glass and enjoy it instead of dessert. A straight sip can easily satisfy a chocolate craving.


Six teams were each given a three-tiered cake covered in white icing, plus open access to a room filled with Godiva confections and the Duff Goldman for Gartner line of cake decorating products.

Our strategy? First, we developed a concept. Given that Godiva’s best-selling chocolate worldwide is an open milk chocolate clam shell filled with chocolate hazelnut creme, we were inspired to create “The Octopus’s Garden,” a cake with an under-the-sea theme. We haven’t yet received a photo of the cake, but here’s what we did:

  • We accented the sides of the cake with Duff’s glittery sprinkles, in bright blue and pastel green “ocean tones.”
  • We pressed some of Godiva’s White Chocolate Pearls into the hazelnut creme and covered the base of each tier with chocolate clam shells, white chocolate starfish and chocolate-dipped madeleines—sponge cake-like cookies baked in a pan that produces elongated shell shapes.
  • To continue the sea theme, we used Duff’s Decorating Icing Pouches in blue and green to create ocean waves around the bottom cake layer, topped with some “white caps” from the white icing pouch. Tan sanding sugar created a “beach” between the waves and the cake.
  • We used a cake wire, a Duff signature, to create a plume effect with a hook on top of the cake. We dangled a piece of chocolate from the wire. (Duff is a CIA alumnus, by the way.)

    Duff’s line also includes icing, edible spray paint in eight colors, cake tattoos in a variety of patterns (for wrapping around the sides of the cake, as demonstrated in the photo above), fondant in several colors, food coloring gels and texture tiles to give added texture and dimension to fondant icing.


    We have a lot of fun at food events, but this was our favorite event ever. So if you’re looking for a memorable way to entertain, have a cake decorating party.

  • Invite as many people as you can accommodate with table space, counter space or other work space.
  • If you don’t have the wherewithal to bake (or order) three-tiered cakes, use ten-inch single-layer cakes iced on a cardboard cake circle. Use plain white frosting. Ask one of the party participants to help you bake and/or frost. If you really want to delegate, tell each guest to arrive with his/her own cake.
  • Supply basic decorations—candies, colorful decorating products—glitter and sprinkles, for example—and perhaps some small cookies.
  • Buying decorations can be expensive if you want to have a large selection. You can invite contestants to bring their own, although this takes away the spontaneity and tips the scales to the most aggressive competitor.
  • If you don’t want to judge the cakes yourself, invite a guest judge who can also go from table to table and offer tips—like Tim Gunn on “Project Runway.”
  • You can give out a prize (this is a great opportunity to regift). Our prize from Godiva: a box each of their delicious cupcakes and caramel brownies.
    After the judging, put out coffee and tea and eat some cake!

    And the bonus: Everyone gets to take home the remainder of his or her cake.

    Find our favorite cakes and recipes in our Gourmet Cakes Section.


    Related Food Videos: For more food videos, check out The Nibble's Food Video Collection.

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