by Jennifer Dyer
It’s graduation season. I rarely make cakes anymore, but this has some cute and easy elements, so I wanted to share. This isn’t the best picture (the cake had an incident on the way to the party), but I can’t access all my older pics at the moment.
If I remember correctly with the cake pictured, one of my dipped strawberries took a dive in the car, so it was smeared with frosting. (But still yum-o.) My hands are shakier than they used to be, so don’t focus on my penmanship. Overall the cake was a huge hit.
I made two 15×11 cakes and put them together and frosted them with cream cheese buttercream. For this cake the only decoration I used was my graduation strawberries and some chocolate diplomas (I bought the mold for those at a cake store.)
For the strawberry hats I used milk chocolate Ghirardelli squares and Reese’s peanut butter cup miniatures. To make the hats:
- Put the squares on a cookie sheet, plain side down.
- Melt milk chocolate Ghirardelli chips.
- Dip the smaller end of the peanut butter cups into the melted chocolate to act as glue. Place it in the middle of a square.
- Let them set up at room temperature or in the refrigerator.
I made the diplomas from purple dipping melts that I bought as a craft store. Use a bit of the dipping chocolate to glue those to your hardened berries. (Try to place the diplomas on about the same height of the berries–something I learned after seeing this pic. Lol.)
I also dipped the strawberries in melted Ghirardelli milk chocolate chips, so the hats match the strawberries.
Here are some tips I’ve learned after making numerous dipped strawberry displays:
- Make the graduation hats ahead of time. They will keep for quite a while.
- Instead of rinsing the berries, wipe them gently with a sightly damp towel. I wipe them again with a dry towel to make sure there is no water left. (Water will cause the chocolate to seize up). If you rinse the berries ahead of time they tend to release more water and appear to sweat after being dipped.
- Dip the strawberries the day of the event. I know it’s a pain, but they get runny if dipped too far ahead of time. If you can find stemmed berries, they tend to stay fresh longer, so you can dip those the day before.
- Don’t overheat the chocolate. I heat it on 50% power in the microwave in a small mug or little bowl, stirring every 30 seconds. If you heat the chocolate too high, you will wind up with streaking. If your chocolate does get overly hot, just stir gently it until it cools down. (You want to be able to cup the bowl comfortably with your hand.)
- Assemble everything you need before you start dipping in an assembly line. Dried berries, small bowl with chocolate, cookie sheet covered in wax paper. It goes pretty fast if you do your prep work.
- Spread waxed paper over a cool cookie sheet. (I sometimes put my cookie sheets in the freezer and pull them out right before I start dipping, especially in the Texas summers.) Set the berries on the waxed paper after dipping. I sometimes stick my berries into the freezer for 10 minutes to help them set up.
- Be gentle when you pull the berries out of the chocolate so the green stems stay in tact.
- After the strawberries set up, I use a small spoonful of melted chocolate to glue the already dried hats to the top of the berry.
Here is a pic of another graduation cake I made. If I can find the others, I’ll add them here.
Hope this gives you all some great ideas as we head in graduation season!