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Assemble Your Supplies
Learn how to use chocolate transfer sheets to make patterned chocolate decorations with this photo tutorial!
Chocolate transfer sheets are simple to use, yet they give chocolate desserts a professional, finished appearance and a distinctive touch. This tutorial will teach the basics of working with chocolate transfer sheets, and will provide several examples of using transfer sheets to decorate cakes, cupcakes, and dipped cookies or candy. You might also be interested in the supplemental tutorial... showing how to wrap a cake with chocolate transfer sheets.
To begin, you will need to assemble several specialty ingredients. First, you will need one or more chocolate transfer sheets, which are acetate sheets embossed with cocoa butter and powdered food coloring. When the wet chocolate is spread on the sheets, the design transfers to the chocolate, producing a lovely visual effect. Chocolate transfer sheets are often sold at cake decorating stores and on the Internet.
You will also need chocolate-flavored candy coating, or molding chocolate. This candy product is flavored like chocolate, but has vegetable or palm oils instead of cocoa butter. You can use tempered chocolate instead, but it is more time-consuming and less predictable. It is wise for beginners to start with candy coating, a much more reliable substance, to achieve consistently good results. Candy coating is often sold at cake decorating and craft stores, with Wilton Candy Melts being one of the most popular brands. The amount of candy coating needed will vary depending on your project, but you will probably want at least 12 ounces to wrap a small cake.
Finally, you will need an offset metal spatula. The chocolate will need to be spread in a very thin, very even layer over the transfer sheet, and this is most effectively done with an offset spatula. You will also need whatever baked goods or candy centers you are planning on using for your project.Continue to 2 of 10 below.
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Spread the Chocolate onto the Transfer Sheet
First up: how to make chocolate cut-outs for decorating cakes and cupcakes!
Begin by melting the candy coating in a large microwave-safe bowl. Microwave the coating for 45 seconds and stir gently. Continue to microwave in 30 second increments, stirring each time, until the coating is melted and smooth.
Depending on your needs, you may not need to use the whole transfer sheet, so if necessary, cut the chocolate transfer sheet to your desired size. Place it on your workstation with the textured side... face up and the shiny side face down on the counter.
1. Spoon some of the melted chocolate onto the transfer sheet in even intervals. Remember that it is going to be spread in a thin layer, so apply it sparingly. You can always add more later if you need to.
2. Using the offset spatula, spread the chocolate in a thin layer over the entire sheet, so that all of the edges are covered. It’s okay if the chocolate goes past the edges. Allow the chocolate to sit for 5-7 minutes, until it begins to set around the edges but is not fully hard or brittle.Continue to 3 of 10 below.
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Cut the Chocolate With A Knife
Once the chocolate has begun to set but is not yet hard, you can cut it into your desired shapes. One of the easiest ways to do this is to use a large sharp chef’s knife. Simply press the knife down into the chocolate and create squares, rectangles, or triangles. If you find that a large amount of chocolate is sticking to the knife, or is being “dragged” through the cuts, wait another minute or two for the chocolate to set further.
After you have made the cuts, let the chocolate set completely at... room temperature, or speed up the process by carefully placing the sheet in the refrigerator.Continue to 4 of 10 below.
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Use the Shapes to Decorate Cakes
Once the chocolate is hard, carefully peel the chocolate pieces from the transfer sheet. You can use these beautiful shapes to decorate the tops of cakes, cupcakes, or plated desserts.
The cake pictured above was decorated with chocolate transfer sheet cut-outs and wrapped in an outer layer of chocolate. You can learn this wrapping technique by viewing this photo tutorial showing how to wrap cakes in chocolate.Continue to 5 of 10 below.
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Use Cookie Cutters to Cut the Chocolate
You do not have to limit yourself to cutting the chocolate with a knife. You can produce almost any chocolate shape you can imagine by using cookie cutters! Sharp, well-defined metal cutters work best, as some plastic cutters have edges that are too wide and dull to be effective. Once again, wait until the chocolate is at the intermediate stage between melted and fully hardened, and firmly press the cutters into the chocolate all the way to the bottom.Continue to 6 of 10 below.
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Decorate Cupcakes With Chocolate
After the cuts have been made, allow the chocolate to set completely at room temperature or in the refrigerator before carefully popping them away from the sheet. Use them to decorate cakes, cupcakes, or other pastries.
This method typically produces more waste, as the chocolate that surrounds the cut-out shapes is often oddly formed and unattractive. If the chocolate is dark, you can save it and re-melt it with additional candy coating. The small amount of cocoa butter and coloring from the... transfer sheet will not be visible once it’s re-melted.Continue to 7 of 10 below.
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Pipe Chocolate Onto the SheetsYou can also create free-form decorations and custom designs with chocolate transfer sheets by using the candy coating to pipe words or shapes directly onto the sheets. To create this effect, place some melted candy coating into a paper cone or pastry bag fitted with a small round tip. The coating should be well-melted and free of lumps (even small bits of chocolate can clog the narrow tip) but not so hot that it flows uncontrollably.
Carefully draw or write your desired design directly onto the... textured side of the transfer sheet. It is best not to make it too thin or fragile, otherwise it might break upon removal from the sheet.Continue to 8 of 10 below.
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Decorate With Piped Shapes or Words
Allow the chocolate to set completely at room temperature or in the refrigerator before carefully peeling it away from the sheet. I like to use this technique to make abstract shapes for topping cupcakes—I love the added height and dramatic look it gives ordinary cupcakes.
You can also use this technique to spell out words. Imagine how nice a cake would look with “Happy Birthday” spelled out in glossy, gorgeously decorated letters.Continue to 9 of 10 below.
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Press Transfer Sheets Onto Dipped Candies
All of the techniques above are intended for producing cake and pastry decorations. But you can also use transfer sheets to decorate chocolate-dipped treats! This method works best with a flat surface, so I recommend using it for dipped sandwich cookies, or caramel, toffee, or ganache squares. The example above uses chocolate cream-filled sandwich cookie, which are excellent dipped in chocolate!
Begin by cutting your transfer sheets into small squares slightly larger than the objects you will be... dipping. You will need one transfer sheet square for each dipped item. Dip a cookie or piece of candy in the melted chocolate, and place it on a baking sheet covered with waxed paper or foil. While the chocolate is still wet, place the textured side of a transfer square onto the top of the chocolate and gently use your finger to press down and make sure that the entire surface of the chocolate is contact with the sheet. Repeat this process with the remaining candies and transfer squares.Continue to 10 of 10 below.
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Your Dipped Items Are Now DecoratedPlace the baking sheet of dipped goodies in the refrigerator to set the chocolate for about 20 minutes. Once the chocolate is firm, peel the transfer sheet from the top. The result will be a gorgeous, glossy decoration that makes even the simplest chocolate-dipped cookie or caramel look professional. If you have used candy coating, your treats should remain stable at room temperature. Enjoy making beautiful desserts with your newfound skills!