How to Wrap a Cake With Chocolate

Chocolate cake
Annabelle Breakey / Getty Images
  • 01 of 10

    Assemble Your Supplies

    chocolate transfer sheets
    Elizabeth LaBau

    Have you ever seen a cake wrapped with a seamless band of glossy decorated chocolate, and wondered how this effect was accomplished? This seemingly complicated decorating trick is actually very easy to do and requires only a few special ingredients. This tutorial will show you how to use transfer sheets to wrap a cake in chocolate and create chocolate cut-outs to decorate the top of your cake. There is an additional tutorial with several different examples of using transfer sheets to decorate cakes, cupcakes, and dipped cookies or candy.

    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 use them 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 to easily spread the chocolate in a thin, even layer. You might also want a pastry bag and tips to finish decorating the cake.

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  • 02 of 10

    Measure Your Cake

    Chocolate transfer sheets
    Elizabeth LaBau

    Begin with your frosted cake. The sides will be covered up, but depending on your decorating plans, the top might be visible, so take that into account when finishing the cake. This tutorial uses a small 6-inch cake, but you can use this technique with a round cake of any size. It is easiest to decorate the cake if it is on a larger cardboard round or cake platter.

    1. The first step is to determine the height and circumference of your cake​ so that you cut the chocolate to the appropriate size. Using a ruler, measure the height of the cake. You can either cut your chocolate to the exact height of the cake, or make the chocolate slightly taller if you want to make a barrier and cover the top of the cake with fresh fruit, or a layer of poured ganache or mousse.
    2. After you have determined the height, measure the circumference around the cake. The easiest way to do this is to use yarn or kitchen twine and wrap it loosely around the base of the cake. After you have your measurement, add additional inch or so to the total to ensure that the chocolate will wrap all the way around without any gaps.
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  • 03 of 10

    Cut Your Transfer Sheets

    Chocolate transfer sheet
    Elizabeth LaBau
    1. Now that you have the measurements, you can cut your chocolate transfer sheet to the appropriate size. Using a ruler, draw a line with a pen to mark where to cut.
    2. Cut the transfer sheet with scissors or a sharp razor. You will probably have to cut several strips and tape them together to create a strip long enough to fit around the cake. Measure and cut the strips to the proper size, and tape them together on the shiny side.
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  • 04 of 10

    Spread Chocolate on the Sheet

    Chocolate transfer sheet
    Elizabeth LaBau
    1. Lay the cut, taped transfer sheet on your workstation with the textured side facing up. Melt 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. 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 to 7 minutes until it begins to set around the edges but is not fully hard or brittle.
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  • 05 of 10

    Peel the Sheet up

    Chocolate transfer sheet
    Elizabeth LaBau
    1. If your chocolate is spread in a thin layer, it should be apparent where the edges of the transfer sheets are. Using a sharp knife, run it carefully around the edges of the sheet to delineate the chocolate sheet and create neat edges.
    2. Once the chocolate is somewhat set but still pliant, hold one end of the transfer sheet and carefully peel it off the counter, holding it with both hands.
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  • 06 of 10

    Wrap the Chocolate Around the Cake

    Chocolate transfer sheet
    Elizabeth LaBau
    1. Carefully place one end of the transfer sheet against the side of the cake, pressing the wet chocolate directly against the frosting. Slowly turn the cake while wrapping the transfer sheet around the sides of the cake, taking care to keep the sheet right against the side of the cake and the bottom of the transfer sheet even with the bottom of the cake.
    2. Tape the outside of the transfer sheet to secure it around the sides of the cake. Place the cake in the refrigerator to fully set the chocolate for at least 25 minutes.
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  • 07 of 10

    Remove the Sheet From the Chocolate

    Chocolate transfer sheet
    Elizabeth LaBau

    After the chocolate is hardened and set, remove the tape on the outside of the transfer sheet. Carefully peel away one corner of the sheet, and rotate the cake while gently peeling the sheet off the strip of chocolate. The design will remain on the chocolate and the chocolate is now firmly molded to the cake sides.

    Continue to 8 of 10 below.
  • 08 of 10

    Pipe Top and Bottom Borders on the Cake

    Chocolate transfer sheet
    Elizabeth LaBau
    1. Now that your cake is wrapped in chocolate, you can finish decorating the cake. If you have additional frosting, begin by piping a border along the top of the chocolate to hide any imperfections or gaps between the chocolate and the cake.
    2. After the top border is piped, add a border along the bottom edge of the cake. We think that a small shell border always looks neat and professional, but you can use any decorating technique you like. 
    Continue to 9 of 10 below.
  • 09 of 10

    Make Chocolate Decorations

    Chocolate transfer sheet
    Elizabeth LaBau

    If you like, you can make additional chocolate decorations to go atop the cake. Cut a small strip from an unused chocolate transfer sheet and lay it textured-side up on your workstation. Spread a thin layer of chocolate over the sheet as you did in step four.

    Once the chocolate has begun to set but is not yet hard, 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. Alternately, you can use sharp cookie cutters to cut small shapes out of the chocolate. 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 10 of 10 below.
  • 10 of 10

    Finish Your Cake

    Cake chocolate transfer sheets
    Elizabeth LaBau

    Once the chocolate is hard, carefully peel the chocolate pieces from the transfer sheet. Pipe decorative rosettes on top of the cake and place the chocolate pieces artfully on top. Your cake is now ready to display and enjoy.