So simple: Just add some berries to the top of a cheesecake. This cake adds some chamomile blossoms to the strawberries. You can leave the berries plain, or substitute something else, like granola or cookie crumbs. (photo courtesy King Arthur Flour).
 This approawch is foolproof: Place the fruit on the serving plate (photo courtesy Maja Chocolat).
 You can drizzle sauce across the top of the cake, or on individual slices (photo courtesy Flavor And The Menu).
 Not as hard as you think if you just follow the photo. Buy mini macarons, berries and edible flowers (photo courtesy Alcakemy).
Last night’s dinner inspired this morning’s tip.
We were dining at our wine editor’s house with a particular purpose: to see if the fine wines of our friend Jeannette had suffered in a bizarre accident.
Her home wine storage unit had malfunctioned: Instead of cooling, it had been heating the contents for several days before the problem was discovered.
We tested bottles of different wines—Bordeaux, Burgundy, Chinon.
But the point of this tip is the dinner itself. This was an ad hoc event with a simple dinner: just a quick get-together.
The appetizers to test the first bottle of wine were frozen heat-and-serve mini-quiches from Trader Joe’s.
The main course: roasted chicken, string beans, a salad.
The dessert was a cheesecake from the store, served plain (served with a fabulous 1983 Gewürztraminer from Zind-Humbrecht).
We adore cheesecake: plain, dipped in chocolate or any other preparation.
As we looked at that plain beige canvas of a cake top, we thought of easy decorations to make it look impressive.
15 EASY CAKE GARNISHES
You can use these garnishes on cheesecakes, layer cakes, flourless cakes, or any flat-topped cake. (The yellow dots among the strawberries are chamomile flowers, but if you want a second texture/color, you can use blueberries or nuts.)
Berries: The tried and true. One type of berry is fine (photo #1); two or more create eye-appeal in color and texture.
Caramel corn: It’s a winner atop vanilla and chocolate cakes. Try it!
Chocolate: Break bars or bark into pieces and create an “abstract mosaic” on top of the cake. If someone gives you a box of Godiva, place the pieces around the rim of the cake (so much better than buttercream roses!).
Chocolate chips: Who could be unhappy here? If you have a mix of sizes and colors (dark, milk and white chocolate; butterscotch; peanut butter; chips and chunks), so much the better.
Citrus slices: One type is OK; a mix of sizes and colors is better (blood oranges, clementines, mandarine, navel oranges, etc.).
Cookie crumbs: It doesn’t have to be Oreos. Place whatever you have in a plastic bag and crush with a rolling pin. If you have two different types of cookies, crush them separately and do a half-and-half topping on the cake.
Dessert sauces: Butterscotch, caramel, chocolate, dulce de leche or fruit sauce (photo #3).
Granola and/or raisins: These are fine by themselves or in combination, e.g. raisins and nuts or chocolate chips. Trail mix works, too!
Honey: See dessert sauces.
Nuts: Whatever you have will work. Create a rim around the top of the cake with halved or chopped nuts; or just sprinkle them in the center.
Preserves: When you have nothing else on hand, heat a jar of jam or preserves until it gets soft enough to drizzle or dot. Or, go Jackson Pollock.
Seasonal candies: Candy corn, hearts, novelty chocolates (mini Santas and trees, e.g.), peppermint bark, seasonal colored sprinkles.
Shaved chocolate: Grab a chocolate bar and a vegetable peeler, and peel chocolate curls on top of the cake.
Stone fruits: Wedges of peach, plum, nectarine; fresh cherries with stems.
Toffee chips: Buy them ready-to-use, or crush a Heath Bar (we crush our favorite, Enstrom’s Toffee).