In this drip cake tutorial from Cake Confidence by Mandy Merriman, Mandy takes you through the decorating process step-by-step as well as how to finish your cake with piped buttercream rosettes or swirls. (Continued from our Cake Confidence feature, Part 1: How to Expertly Buttercream a Cake – The Easy Way (which shows you how to make a drip cake from scratch.)
A question we hear a lot at Cake Geek is how tall does a drip cake need to be? It can be as tall as you like but the taller the cake the more effective it is so ideally a drip cake should have three layers of cake.
Drip Cake Tutorial
First off, how do you make the drip for your drip cake? Can you just melt chocolate for a drip cake? Ideally, no. If you try to use just melted chocolate for the drip it will look really thick and clumpy.
Instead, the drip on drip cakes is made from chocolate ganache which is a mixture of chocolate and heavy cream (also known as double cream outside the US). You can use colored candy melts instead of chocolate if you want a specific color drip (or add a tiny amount of gel color to your white chocolate.)
For the ganache to make your chocolate drip, you just melt the candy melts or chocolate (see notes in FAQ’s below) with heavy cream in the microwave in 30 second increments. Stir after each 30 second increment to ensure the chocolate melts evenly and beware, chocolate burns way easier than you think! So don’t skip the stirring part!
You will know your ganache is done when you stir and when there are no lumps of chocolate left and it’s completely smooth when you stir it around.
A lot of people wonder can you add a chocolate drip to a buttercream cake, afraid that it may melt the buttercream. The answer is yes you can -as long as your chocolate drip/ganache has come to room temperature and your buttercream cake has been chilled in the fridge for at least half an hour (or been in the freezer for 10 minutes).
(For fondant cakes, it’s best to use colored royal icing for your drip cake. Made of icing sugar and egg white, it has the right consistency and isn’t too liquid. Therefore will not adversely impact the quality of the fondant.)
How do you make colored ganache for dripping cake?
The next step is to pour the ganache into your squeeze bottle and twist the lid on tight. Don’t worry if you don’t have a squeeze bottle, you can use a teaspoon instead. But you have more control using a squeeze bottle.
Alternatively, you can also use a plastic piping bag and just cut a hole at the pointed end when you’re ready to start on the drips. Again, the squeeze bottle is the easiest method.
So, now for the good part – how do you get the chocolate ganache to drip? Gently squeeze a bit of ganache down the side of the cake from the top edge. And the key is to stop when the ganache is about an inch down from the top.
Still squeezing, move the squeeze bottle over a bit for the next drip.
The more you squeeze, the deeper the drip.
Add more ganache on top—just enough to spread to the edges.
Using an offset icing spatula, spread the center pool of ganache to the edges. Then add a swirl on top. Let set for 5 minutes in the freezer.
Using a Wilton 1M piping tip, pipe on a swirl, going around three times, press down slightly, then lift up.
Repeat so there are 8 swirls on top of the cake. I do swirls at 12, 3, 6, and 9 o’clock.
Finish the final swirls by adding one between each of the previous ones.
Place on final decorations. Chill the cake to set.
Slide a cake lifter between the small cardboard round and the large one (cutting through the tape – see Cake Confidence extract, Part 1 for why you need two cardboard rounds taped together).
Lift cake under the small cardboard round with the cake lifter.
Carefully place the cake on the cake stand and slowly slide out the cake lifter.
Drip cake tutorial from Mandy Merriman’s Cake Confidence (Springville, Utah: Cedar Fort, 2019). Courtesy of Cedar Fort, Inc. Used by permission.
See Part 1 of our Cake Confidence feature here: How To Expertly Buttercream A Cake – The Easy Way