Posted on Leave a comment

Confessions of a Cake Pop Hater: One Year Later

No time now? Pin it for later!

Now that we have cleared up a few things about making cake pop dough and rolling cake pops (see here) and my love of a good #40 scoop, it’s time to talk about dipping cake pops.

Over a year ago when I sat down to write my first blog entry, I never thought I would wait 3 months to publish it and then another seven months before I wrote another post.

I envisioned a place where I could vent about the things that bug me in the world of dessert decorating. Turns out when I actively take time to record the steps of a project, I have found that the opposite is often true. I have begun to appreciate more of the work I put into things and the little joys I discover when working on an edible (or craft) project.

For example, my above reference to a #40 scoop. 🙂 I never realized how often it is my go-to scoop of choice, so now I make sure to poke fun at myself when I reach for that handy tool.

It’s also crazy how many things I work on that I don’t write blogs about. Even when I am not baking for a client, I am never bored.

I am currently obsessed with Lego design and creations. If I ever actually figure out a new building design, I am sure I will write about it. In the meantime, I’ll just enjoy the analytical process of figuring out how the design and engineering behind Lego buildings work. (When I am not baking, of course.)

It has been a year of adventure and learning new things, but it is time to circle back to the beginning and work on those cake pops once again.

They still are not my favorite thing to make, but maybe I don’t hate them quite so much anymore… maybe. 🙂

Melting the candy coating and dipping cake pops has always been more of an instinctual process for me than a repeatable step-by-step project.

Sometimes the coating does what it is supposed to right away, and sometimes I have to fuss with it to get to it to the proper temperature and consistency.

Here’s what I know about melting candy coating:

  1. Always melt the candy coating in the microwave at 20% or 30% power for 30 seconds at a time. Slow and steady is the best chance to get it right the first time. (A double boiler works too, but keep an eye on the coating to avoid overheating.)
  2. It is always a good idea to have paramount crystals handy. I prefer to melt mine in a jar and stir it in only if I know I need it. If the coating always has issues, the crystals can be added at the beginning of the melting process. When I add whole crystals to coating that is already melted, I can never get them to melt all the way and find little lumps stuck to my cake pops.
  3. The perfect temperature is barely warm when you touch it.
  4. The coating should easily drizzle from a spatula and settle when shaken. (See my sad attempt at a video below.) I usually compare the consistency to cold chocolate syrup.
  5. The way I make cake pops, I can dip them at room temperature. If they have been in the freezer or fridge, I let them come all the way to room temperature before dipping. If they are at all cool, I find I get more cracks in the coating to occur. (Cake pops made with other methods that are too gooey will not be dippable at room temperature.)
candy coating after a few rounds of low power microwave melting
starting to melt, but not there yet
there are still lumps, so not there yet
Everything is melted, but it was still too thick (and a little too hot), so it had a cool a little and get some added pre-melted paramount crystals.
my melted paramount crystal jar

Here is a (terrible) video of what I consider to be the correct consistency for dipping.

Somewhere in the course of the melting process, I decide the coating is melted enough to put sticks in the cake pops. So, I dip about 1/2″ of a stick into the coating.

As I gently insert the stick into the rolled cake dough, I twist the stick. This reduces the chance of creating a crack in the dough ball. The sticks get pushed in about 3/4″.

After all the sticks are attached, I finish melting the coating. I then transfer the melted coating to a deep container (like an 8oz mason jar or a deep coffee mug).

To dip the pops, I carefully invert the pop over the melted coating.

If the pop resists sliding into the coating, I have to wiggle the pop a little.

I slowly pull the pop back out of the coating, and tap it on the side of the container to remove excess coating. I hold the pop at as steep of an angle as possible, so there is less risk of the cake pop taking a dive off the stick into the coating container. (I have made close to 4000 cake pops at this point, sometimes it just happens anyway.)

The video below shows a successful dipping attempt. (I was also playing with cake pops on top of mini ice cream cones that day.) If I am drying them upright, I put them in a cake pop stand or stick them into an upside down egg carton.

If I am adding sprinkles, I do that before the coating sets. Otherwise, I let the coating harden completely before adding any other decorations.

Cake pops are not easy, and it has taken a lot of time and practice to get results I am happy with most of the time. It takes patience, and that was a hard lesson to learn.

One year later, and I still make cake pops.

Maybe by this time next year they will finally be out of style.

(fingers crossed)

Hoping your cake pop pursuits stay sweet!


Don’t lose this! Be sure to Pin It!

Don’t miss the latest recipes and posts! Subscribe below:

  1. Hi, Thank you 😊 this is great for our Girl Scouts to earn their badges. I’m looking for the Leave…

Posted on 1 Comment

Confessions of a Cake Pop Hater


I hate cake pops.

If you are like most sweet lovers out there, you just picked yourself up off the floor and are contemplating whether or not to keep reading.  I know.  How can I not love cake pops?  They are the perfect, bite-sized, melt-in-your-mouth, most wonderful, blah, blah, blah.


To make a cake pop, you take all that is good and pure about one of the most basic, standalone greats and turn it into a pile of mush.  The essence of a cake is not just its flavor, but also its structure, that textural experience that comes in every forkful.

So, while I could go on for days about all the tragedy in the world caused by the destruction of wonderful cake, I am actually going to talk to you about making cake pops.

Now you are probably just confused.

She hates cake pops, but she is going to talk about making cake pops.  Okay, crazy lady, what will you say next?

One of the common things people tell me when they know I make cake pops, and yes, I make a lot of cake pops, is that they have tried it at home and they never turn out.  They end up with a pile of mushy, sweet substance, that won’t hold a shape, and even after freezing falls right off the stick when they try to dip them in candy coating.

There is a reason. And it involves something most people don’t want to hear…

You don’t actually need to use very much icing.  Again, I know…what is wrong with this person anyway?

I know you like to have this gooey cake pop that is super sweet, but have you actually ever tried one that maybe wasn’t as sweet?  If you don’t know this, the original cake pop maker actually used cream cheese icing for that very reason, as it did not make the cake pops overly sweet.

Be that as it may, if you absolutely do not want to ever consider the idea of making cake pops that are still yummy, but just not as sweet, I suggest now is the time to move on and find something better to do with your day.  It’s okay, I won’t be offended. 🙂

Still here?

Well thanks for the vote of confidence! Or just the curiosity to see if maybe there is an easier way to get cake pops to turn out right every time.

When I make cake pops, I start with cupcakes.  I buy cheap cupcake liners in bulk.  There is an added expense, but it is worth it for portion control and the ability to easily freeze extra cupcakes for later cake pop use.

When I say portion control, I mean I have the ability to decide how many cake pops I want to make, which makes it much easier when someone calls with an order for 32 cake pops and wants four different flavors.

Today, I have an order for 20 cake pops that are red velvet.  If I make a full recipe of red velvet cake, I get two 8” round pans worth of cake.  When I go to make the cake pops, I can guess that maybe one 8” cake will be enough, but I am likely to end up with too few or too many cake pops.  When I use cupcakes, depending on the cake recipe I used, I get one cake pop per one cupcake.  Some of my recipes will give me three cake pops per two cupcakes, but the one-to-one formula is much easier to work with.

red velvet cupcakes

I peeled the liner off 20 cupcakes and I put them in my stand mixer bowl.

pile of cupcakes in stand mixer bowl

The next step in the process of making pops is turning on your mixer to stir or 2.  This will break the cupcakes down to crumbs.

cupcake crumbs

The next step is crucial.  Turn the mixer speed to the spot between the 2 and the 4, and walk away.  No joke.  Empty the dishwasher, load the dishwasher, check for new updates on Facebook.  This step is the step that requires patience, at least with some cake recipes.  If you have a wonderfully magical recipe like my chocolate cake recipe, you don’t have to walk far.

Here’s the chocolate cake:

I started with this.

chocolate cake crumbs

And not even a full minute later, was rewarded with this beautiful dough.

Chocolate Cake Dough

Now the red velvet is not so cooperative.  After about 5 minutes, I could see that this was not a magical cake recipe. So I did have to add icing.

icing in bowl

As you can see from the picture, there is maybe (and it is a stretch) two tablespoons of icing in the bowl.  After adding the icing, I turned the mixer back on and spent the next several minutes staring at the dough. (I loaded the dishwasher the first time it was mixing, so I had nothing better to do.)

Finally, it got to a point where I was pretty sure it was the best “dough”-looking it would get.

red velvet dough

So I reached in with my gloved hands and grabbed some cake.  A simple roll in my palms showed me that, yep, it was done. (Side Note: those of you making cake pops at home can use meticulously clean hands if you so choose, doing this professionally, gloves are required.) ((Side Side Note: gloves are relatively inexpensive and save you 8 trips to the sink to wash your hands while doing this…just a thought.))

I transferred it to another bowl and got out my trusty #40 scoop.  I love using a portion scoop when I make cake pops.  (So, to make that clear – I love the scoop, not cake pops.) 😉

I get consistently-sized balls of dough and my customers think I am just amazing at getting them all the same size…but I guess that secret is out there now. 🙂

portion scoop

I scoop out my dough and making sure to use pressure, I roll out my cake pops.

Unrolled dough in hand

Rolled Cake Ball in Hand

Seems pretty simple doesn’t it?  And look, 20 cake pops later and this is how much dough I had left. Seems like a good way to estimate quantity after all. 🙂

finished set of cake balls

Using this method, you should not have to put the pops in the freezer in order to dip them.  Just make sure to give them time for the candy coating to set up after you put the sticks in them.  If you don’t, you may still end up with a cake pop casualty or two.

I hope this helps all you cake pop makers out there who have failed while trying to make pops. And my customers have never once complained they are not sweet enough.

So, yes, I do still hate cake pops, but as a person who likes to make my customers happy, I still make a lot of them.

Stay tuned this week for my one year update: dipping cake pops. 🙂

I wish you all much baking success!

  • Angie
Want to get the latest posts by e-mail? Subscribe below:

  1. Hi, Thank you 😊 this is great for our Girl Scouts to earn their badges. I’m looking for the Leave…

Posted on Leave a comment

When Graffiti Just Doesn’t Cut It

I just love it when I spend 4 hours hand-painting a cake only to find out I’m are not finished with it. I thought it looked great. Then I took a picture.

Not so awesome after all. Darn.

Thankfully, I have two awesome friends who help me troubleshoot.

Considering writing on cakes is a personal nightmare (see here) I was really hoping that I would be finished once I got the graffiti on the cake.

Then I realized the plain white brick was just not going to cut it.

So, what to do? Ask someone else. Or several someones.

I was told it just didn’t look “bricky” enough, and the bricks needed more definition.

So black lines? Pink? Both?

After testing on a piece of fondant, imprinted with the brick design, a blend of the pink and black seemed to work best.

In order to get color into the “mortar” areas of the brick, I thinned gel food color with vodka and used a thin paint brush to apply color along the edges of the bricks.

hand-painted mortar on the bricks

Using paper towels dipped in vodka, I then proceeded to wipe off any color that was on the surface of the bricks.

Don’t worry, the alcohol evaporates!

It took several passes in each area to have color remaining only in the crevices of the fondant.

Working in small sections at a time, I alternated areas of pink and black into the lines of the bricks. I changed paper towels frequently to avoid putting color where it was not wanted.

Though my hands were really pretty for a couple of days…

Increasing the contrast really helped to bring attention to the brick I had painstakingly impressed into the fondant the day before.

Once the wording at the bottom had been painted it was time to look at a photo of the cake once again.


I really wanted the gold to pop around the graffiti, so I gave it another coat, painted the bottom cake border, and painted gold around the top of the cake to draw the eye to the topper.

Sometimes it is a good idea to take a step back and make sure that what I envisioned initially was really the final result. It took a lot more work, but the final cake was well worth the extra effort.

Before painting the brick
Finished cake!
Don’t lose track of this article, Pin It now!

Don’t miss the latest recipes and posts! Subscribe below:

  1. Hi, Thank you 😊 this is great for our Girl Scouts to earn their badges. I’m looking for the Leave…

Posted on Leave a comment

Cassette Tape Cookies

Hip Hop is back, 90s style!

Well, maybe not, but the cookies and cake I made this week are definitely a trip back to the 90s!

I was in grade school in the early 90s, and high school at the end, but I never really got into hip hop. I went from soft rock with some minor boy band influences to country music and mainstream “popular” bands, like Blink 182.

“All the Small Things” was the theme song of my first car.


It’s really not that surprising when I think about it. I have always been pretty straight-laced.

I mean, I couldn’t just make cassette tape cookies, I had to look up the dimensions of an actual cassette tape and use a ruler to cut out the perfect size cookies.

This is totally normal, right?

The nice part about the roll-out cookie recipe I use (Wilton’s) is great because it doesn’t puff up a lot or expand very much in the oven. I can be confident that the cookie size going in is very close to the cookie size coming out.

Icing cookies can be extremely time consuming when several colors are involved. So, I always look for ways to work smarter, not harder, while still creating a great finished product.

Let’s break down the cookie:

  • Body
  • Viewing window
  • Winding wheels
  • Label

Cassettes have a viewing window to see how far the tape is advanced and two wheels to wind the tape.

Since those elements are set into the body of the cassette, I wanted to use a technique that would really add dimension to the cookie.

I also decided that I would print out edible labels instead of trying to ice all the details I wanted on each label.

I searched online and found a template for the labels. Using photoshop, I was then able to create the labels I wanted to put on the cookies.

To use the dimensional technique for the tape and wheels, I had to make a stencil. I used the label template to make sure everything was in the right place.

I then very carefully cut out the details with a craft knife.

Laying the stencil on the cookies, I made sure I had it lined up correctly before I used stiff royal icing to stencil on the cookies.

(What I Learned: When stenciling white on a cookie, add some white food color to the freshly made royal icing. If not, I get the pleasure of hand painting all the wheels with white Poppy Paint once the royal icing absorbs butter from the cookies.)

White icing applied to stencil.
They are starting to look like cassettes.

In no time, I had 24 cookies all ready for the next step.

For the next cookie phase, I needed black icing in both outline and 15-second consistencies and charcoal icing in flood consistency. (Anne Yorks also has a couple of great classes on Bluprint that talk about icing consistencies.)

Since I did not want to have visible edges on the cookies, I only used the outline consistency icing to create borders around the wheels and the viewing window.

The thinner, 15-second icing was the perfect consistency to outline and fill the rest of the cookie without worrying I would have icing run off the edges. I then piped the screws in the corners with the gray flood icing.

After icing and pre-shaking the cookie to smooth the icing.

A little shake to settle the icing, and it was on to the next cookie.

Now I had two levels of icing, a standard icing thickness and one just barely raised above the cookie surface.

I let the cookies dry overnight.

Before I started affixing the labels to the cookies, I had to make myself a quick breakfast of orange scones. (The recipe can be found here.)

Boy, were they good! 😉

I cut out the labels with the craft knife and my food-only scissors. Once cut, I used piping gel to attach the labels to the cookies. I then piped lines on each side of the cookie near the base.

The final step was adding the trapezoidal area of raised plastic, along with the details, found at the bottom of the cassette

I wish I knew where a cassette was lying around so I could compare one to the final product, but I think the different icing levels take the cookie from cute to 90s cool.

For the cake I had to graffiti a brick wall with “Happy Birthday”.

More about the cake coming soon. 🙂

There was no easy way to write on this cake, and you know how much I struggle with that! (If not, you can read all about it here.)

The 90s may not be here to stay, but it was fun getting a chance to reminisce.

Rock on!

Oh… I guess I should say “Rap on!”


If you are looking for other helpful cookie tips and tricks, check out my tips page!

Don’t lose track of this article, Pin It now!

Don’t miss the latest recipes and posts! Subscribe below:

  1. Hi, Thank you 😊 this is great for our Girl Scouts to earn their badges. I’m looking for the Leave…

Posted on Leave a comment

Under the Sea Cake

cake and cookies

Under the sea,
Under the sea,
Mermaids are swimming,
Sprinkles are trimming,
The cake that you see!

NHL playoffs really mess with my sleep schedule, and I was a little loopy…

So, the making up of new lyrics to old songs began…

Most people do not consider me silly, and I am okay with that.

Occasionally though, when the lack of sleep takes over, the non-sensical Angie stops by.

Don’t worry, she never stays long.


We’ll just move on.

Oh, yeah, the reason for the song.

An Under the Sea cake, of course!

It is always fun when I am given a broad theme and no parameters for the cake design.

It is also a pain, as I am terrible at coming up with ideas at first.

I eventually figure it out though.

Sometimes even before I sit down to decorate the cake!

When it comes to baking, I am a planner.

(When it comes to just about everything else, I am still a planner. Don’t get me started on vacation itineraries…)

This is a good thing for baking (and my need for sleep). I don’t start a cake the day before it is getting delivered and stay up until the wee hours of the morning working on it.

When I plan, I get to enjoy several hours of whatever else I feel like doing time. This also means I can take on more than one cake in a week and not freak out over it.

My schedule:

Day 1—Bake
Day 2—Ice
Day 3—Cover with fondant (if needed)
Day 4—Decorate
Day 5—Deliver

If I start working at 9, I am usually finished for the day by lunchtime, giving me time to do things like write blog posts…or watch Hallmark movies.

You know, whichever seems more important at the time. 😉

By the time I got to decorating day for this cake, I had figured out how I wanted to do the background and made the cookies I wanted to add as the final decoration.

This cake is very similar to my Galaxy Cake (which you can check out here).

Before I started icing, I wanted to make sure the blues I planned to use did not clash with the mermaid cookies.

Mermaid cookies and icing
Looks good to me!

Then I made sure the blues and green I decided to use would be (go together).

Icing bowls
I do this a lot. You can learn more about it here.

Once the colors were coordinated, I made a little test palette to check the colors with the sprinkles I planned to use.

Icing and sprinkles

Yay! It all looks great!

Doing the top of the cake was similar to the Galaxy Cake. I just piped icing in rings around the top and added some of the other colors I wanted to blend in.

Swirls of icing on cake top
After the first spin around…

After I smoothed it, I decided that I did not want the top to be flat, so I gave it some texture and added a few more spots of color.

Now the finished top had high- and low-lights, just like real waves.

To do the sides, instead of the perpendicular piping I did with the Galaxy Cake, I piped lines parallel to the cake board. This allowed me to alternate colors and create a gradient effect.

The Galaxy Cake (see more here)
icing lines piped around the cake

The result after smoothing was good, but it needed more colors.

The result had subtle green and darker blue areas which I really loved.

Next, I piped a thick border around the cake bottom, so that when I added the sprinkles, they would be dimensional piles, instead of flat to the cake.

I know that there were lots of round sprinkles in there, and I also know that round things roll, but I was sure I could control the sprinkles by slowly adding them with a spoon.

My floor would disagree.

Once I put the cake over some containers to catch the runaways, the sprinkle process was much smoother.

initial sprinkles on cake

Good thing too, as there were a lot of runaways!

After carefully knocking off the loose sprinkles from the cake, I had a large pile of sprinkles I saved. It was definitely a close call!


To finish up the cake design, I added some seaweed with a #349 leaf tip.

seaweed detail on cake

Wording added (which was less painful than this cake), I could relax and spend 30 minutes trying to get the perfect cake and cookie pictures. (For a great tutorial on how to make the mermaid cookies, check out Flour Box Bakery’s blog and video.)

mermaid cookies
cake and cookies

I really liked the cake the way it was, but I let the birthday girl decide if we should add the mermaids to her cake or not.

I think she made a good choice. 🙂

The technique I used to ice the cake works from fathoms below to galaxies far, far away, so it is a great technique to master.

On to the next adventure!


Don’t lose track of this article, Pin It now!

Don’t miss the latest recipes and posts! Subscribe below:

  1. Hi, Thank you 😊 this is great for our Girl Scouts to earn their badges. I’m looking for the Leave…

Posted on Leave a comment

A Galaxy Adventure (cake)

Finished galaxy cake with sprinkles

A long time ago… or last Friday…

In a galaxy far, far away… or maybe down the street…

A girl made a galaxy cake for a very different franchise.

This one has something to do with time.


I have never seen an episode.

That may make me the worst, but I would have to start at the beginning…and I feel I am a bit far behind to try to catch up at this point.

I am sure it is a fantastic show.

Also, not really the point.

While there may be words on the finished cake that mention something about something or other, the cake itself is completely stand alone. At least in my opinion.

Let’s start with a chocolate iced cake.

No wait, back up. Let’s talk about icing while the cake is still chilling in the refrigerator.

To make my black, I started with a base of chocolate frosting. This means I can use WAY less powdered food color to achieve my final black. It also means that even if there is a little food color taste, it won’t be noticeable in the yummy deep chocolate frosting since it is only going to be the thinnest outer layer on the cake. (I got the recipe from this class on Bluprint. Note: I am not receiving any affiliate income from products or services mentioned in this post.)

I then proceeded to color some white icing with royal blue food color for my blue and regal and electric purples for my violet. I use Americolor food gel.

Before I iced the cake, I needed to create a unified color palette. To do this, I added a little of blue and violet to the black, blue and black to the violet, and violet and black to the blue.

Colored icing in bowls

The effect is subtle, but the desaturation of the colors gives the palette a sense of harmony.

Time to decorate!

I removed a small portion of the tip from the piping bags. A #10 icing tip will work too, but I am comfortable using the bags without the tips, especially since there is less to clean.

Black icing in piping bag

The cake has a full coat of chocolate icing. I just want to add a very thin skim coat of color to the cake.

This means fewer black tongues!

If I were using a vanilla buttercream, I would have iced the whole cake with a full coat of white first and then colored my white icing with the black for the thin outer layer. (Don’t be surprised, but I learned this technique from a class on Bluprint. Yay for using a technique I learned! For more on my love of learning (and lack of using what I learned), check out my post on sheen dust.)

Enough about that though.

I started piping lines of black all around the cake.

It looks like a scary tree stump right now.

I wanted to have a lot of color dimensions in the icing, so I added dots and streaks of the other colors before I started smoothing my lines.

Maybe I should leave it like this? Just kidding.
That’s more like it! Still kidding.

Once I finished smoothing, I went around and started to add additional dots and streaks of color.

I then repeated this process a few more times, since I am a bit of a perfectionist.

The final time around, I wiped off my scraper every couple of inches to leave much more distinct color patches in the icing.

That makes more sense.

On the top, I first smoothed the black, then I added my dots of color.

Top of cake with colored icing dots

And then I added more color.

More icing dots on top of the cake

Most iced galaxy cakes I have seen stop at this point. The cake looks great the way it is, but when I think of a galaxy, I think of something with more texture and dimension.

This could be finished, but no!

My idea was to add a blend of various sprinkles to give the cake a more distinctive look.

To put the sprinkles on the sides of the cake, I cut a piece of parchment paper and rubbed it with shortening.

Parchment with shortening rubbed on it

I didn’t want the whole cake covered with sprinkles, so I just sprinkled some onto the parchment paper. This technique is great for putting a lot of sprinkles up the sides of the cake as well. For the top, I just sprinkled them on where I wanted them.

Sprinkles on parchment

Using the parchment is great, as I was able to control how the sprinkles were distributed. If an area needed more gold, I could easily add it before trying to put it on the cake, saving myself a headache of trying to use tweezers or my fingers.

I then lifted the parchment and pressed the sprinkles into the cake.

Stick with me, it gets better.

After the cake went back in the fridge for about 30 minutes, I put a fresh piece of parchment on the cake and used a fondant smoother to push the sprinkles flush into the icing. It was still a little sticky, but I liked the additional texture it left.

Definitely a galaxy I would not mind eating.

I mean, visiting.

Finished galaxy cake with sprinkles
See? Much better.

To complete my order, I did have to add a few more details. I also know that there is something large and blue that is going on the top of the cake, but that was being provided by someone at the party.

Finished galaxy cake

Until we meet again…or since we met last time?… this timey wimey stuff is confusing.


Now that I am writing about my cake projects, I have to be extra careful to document every step of the decorating process. Turns out it is a lot harder than it should be.

The more I do it, I am sure it will become a habit, so for now, please forgive me if I miss a step now and again. If something is unclear, please ask questions, and I will happily explain in more detail, or find photos to better illustrate the questionable item. Thanks for reading!

Live in the St. Louis Metro Area? Click here to sign-up for our Newsletter and get information about upcoming classes and events.

Want to get the latest posts by e-mail? Subscribe below:

  1. Hi, Thank you 😊 this is great for our Girl Scouts to earn their badges. I’m looking for the Leave…

Posted on Leave a comment

The Joys of Dust: Part Two

You can’t help but love it! It coats just about every surface, adds just the perfect extra touch, creates interest and dimension, and can elevate anything from drab to fab!

I am, of course, referring to food-safe decorating dusts. 😊

The big three types of dust in the decorating world are matte, sheen, and glitter dusts. If you would like to learn more about matte dust, check out my Joys of Dust: Part One entry.

I love school.

If I had unlimited funds, I would be a professional student. Unfortunately, I had to stop after two degrees (but I was only 3 credits short of a second Associate’s Degree). So close.

There have been plenty of bumps in the academic road though.

Let’s just say that I am still not sure how an initial major in Molecular Biochemistry and Biophysics turned into degrees in Accounting and Graphic Communications.

And now I make desserts.

Yeah. Moving on.

Learning is fun.

So, while I can’t earn four more college degrees, I do try to sneak in classes every now and again.

I have taken all the Wilton Courses in cake decorating, and I have an Entrepreneurial Certificate as well. (Which is basically a fancy way of saying I can write an awesome business plan.)

Mostly I now get my education fix from taking online classes on Bluprint (formerly Craftsy).

(Note: I am not receiving any revenue for the links to products or services in this post.)

One problem with taking lots of online classes, and even watching online tutorials, is that you get super excited and immediately want to use those skills on the next cake you do. For example, I will watch a class on wafer paper, and of course I want to make awesome wafer paper flowers for my cakes.

A few days later.

Yay, a cake order!

For a sheet cake with an edible image (of a dinosaur).

Not really conducive to delicate flowers.

Oh well.

Another major problem is buying all the tools and accessories you need to use for these awesome new techniques and instead it all just ends up in a drawer.

Like this one.

Thus, my need to find more uses for my dust drawer contents.

Today let’s talk about sheen dust.  This is more commonly referred to as luster dust or pearl dust. You can use this type of dust to create a metallic looking finish to your projects. I call it a sheen dust because the base you use underneath the dust plays a role in the resulting finish. For example, painting gold dust onto a white surface and a black surface will give you two very different golds. (For more information on matte dust, you can check out my post here.)

I discovered sheen dust from a class on Bluprint. I immediately ordered a set of the metallic sheen dusts, and stuck them in a drawer. Since then I have slowly amassed my collection from going to the cake supply store and impulse buying at the register.

In a rare case of luck, I was able to use one of them on a cake about 9 months later.

I even got to make a wafer paper flower. Score!

When I need a large surface covered with a metallic finish, it is much easier to use a spray like the Wilton Pearl sprays or to airbrush the finish. In the picture above, I used clear alcohol and the dust to do all the painting. On the cake below, I used the Wilton Color Mist on a buttercream surface.

For smaller areas, I have found that sheen dust adds exactly the right metallic finish to my designs, and I definitely look for ways to incorporate them into projects, like highlighting the headlights on car cookies or painting my fondant flowers.

The flower is painted with gold dust and clear alcohol.
The leaf is matte dust and clear alcohol.

This type of dust is versatile in that in can be used dry or wet to create different finishes on your project. Dry, it can be used to give a subtle shimmer to gum paste, fondant, candy coatings, and royal icing. Here are examples of Super Gold dust used dry and wet on different backgrounds.

Super Gold on white, black, and chocolate fondant. Tops are brushed with dry dust, bottoms painted with dust and clear alcohol.

 It can also be used to customize your sprinkles or elevate fresh fruit to a whole new level of wow. For sprinkles, just dump a little dust into the container and shake. If you only want a small portion of the sprinkles coated, dump them into a small jar or plastic baggie instead.

Black and White Jimmies before adding dust
Black and White Jimmies after shaking in Amethyst Dust.

When mixed with a clear extract or alcohol it can be used as a paint. Add a little alcohol or extract at a time to get the desired consistency. Paint on your project with a dedicated, food-only paintbrush. If you want a second coat, be sure to let the first coat dry completely before applying the next layer of color.

[UPDATE: Recently I discovered another medium to use when painting with dust called confectioner’s glaze. It smelled awful when I put it on, but once the alcohol evaporated, there was no smell that remained. It paints much smoother on larger areas and leaves an additional shine (it’s basically edible lacquer). I recommend the thinner as well. It is very hard to clean the brush without it. A very high proof alcohol or rubbing alcohol are the only other cleaning agents that will work.]

confectioner's glaze vs. clear alcohol with the luster dust
Top: fondant painted with confectioner’s glaze and gold dust
Bottom: fondant painted with clear alcohol and gold dust

I discovered the use of pearl dust on fresh fruit from watching this free episode of Man About Cake on YouTube. Joshua John Russell has most amazing show where you get awesome ideas, tips, and tricks for cake decorating and design.

Boring Blackberries
Fancy Blackberries after adding Amethyst Dust

For a sheen that is more of a combo metallic and glitter, the Wilton Pearl Dust is great. It can be used to highlight dimensional projects like molded fondant flowers.

The gold flower is painted with Super Gold Sheen Dust and clear alcohol, the green flower and leaf are painted with Wilton Pearl Dust and clear alcohol.
Sheen Dust vs. Wilton Pearl Dust
Sheen dust on the left and Wilton Pearl Dust on the right

And because I can’t think of enough uses to warrant an entire post, the third major type of dust is glitter dust or disco dust. It is basically just non-toxic glitter. It gives a great touch of sparkle to projects, and a little goes a long way to creating an extra bit of wow.

After the coating set, I painted the cake pops with piping gel before adding the glitter.

Be careful though, when people ask you if it is edible, and you say, “Well, it is non-toxic.”, they can get a little out of sorts with you for feeding them glitter. Don’t worry too much though, they will still eat a second cake pop. 😊


If you have uses for sheen dust or glitter dust that I have not mentioned, please let me know. I always love to learn new techniques. I can’t wait to hear from you!

Want to get the latest posts by e-mail? Subscribe below:

  1. Hi, Thank you 😊 this is great for our Girl Scouts to earn their badges. I’m looking for the Leave…

Posted on Leave a comment

The Joys of Dust: Part One

You can’t help but love it! It coats just about every surface, adds just the perfect extra touch, creates interest and dimension, and can elevate anything from drab to fab!

I am, of course, referring to food-safe decorating dusts. 😊

The big three types of dust in the decorating world are matte, sheen, and glitter dusts. Today we are going to stick to the matte dust, but don’t worry, the others will be along shortly. Matte dust is sometimes referred to as petal dust or blossom dust. (To learn more about sheen and glitter dusts, check out my part two post here.)

(Note: I am not receiving any revenue for the links posting to products or services on this post.)

Way back in the day… (I looked it up, it was 2013) I took the Wilton Gum Paste class.  This was my first exposure to the matte decorating dust. Making flowers out of gum paste is just the first step.  In order to give your flowers a more realistic look, you have to shade them.

One of the final class projects is to make a Stargazer Lily. My wonderful and amazing teacher usually let me get away with doing a little of my own thing when it came to our projects, so I found a picture of a red and orange lily online and used it as my model instead.

I started out with orange petals, and using matte dusts, I turned my dull orange petals into a realistic looking flower.

Stargazer lily (class example)
My finished lily

Since I don’t make wedding cakes regularly, I don’t think I have made a gum paste flower since. Oh well, now I have an excellent collection of matte dusts in a drawer to stare at every once in a while.

Just recently, I have learned that you can use the matte dust as a powdered food coloring.  You can add it to buttercream, candy coatings, chocolate, and even use it to color food. This makes the dust so much more versatile than ever before! Which is good, as I am running out of room to store all my little jars of dust.

If you have large quantities to color, like icing, then I still recommend good ole fashioned gel food colors, but for smaller icing projects, coloring coatings and chocolates, and coloring dry foods, you can’t beat this amazing dust.

My biggest excitement is that it finally allows me to easily create the one candy coating color that is just not found on the market. Purple!

How to up the fun with matte dust:

Using a small paintbrush dedicated to food use only, you can slowly build color onto a dry surface, like gum paste, royal icing, or wafer paper. Adding some shading gives your item depth and character.

Brown shading on the base of a baby bib
Shading on a baseball

To add color to icing, you first have to melt a small portion of icing. Adding your powder to the liquid will hydrate the dust first, allowing it to blend into your icing much better. You may have to add quite a bit of powder to achieve intense color, so again, I recommend this for smaller projects or to create a more subtle, pastel shade.

Icing colored with Sugar Art Foliage Green

To add color to candy coatings, like Wilton Candy Melts, you need to add the dust to melted shortening, oil, or my preference, melted paramount crystals, before adding it to your melted coating. For darker colors, like purple, it is much easier to start with a darker base color like the Wilton Candy Melts Lavender, than it is to start with white. You won’t need quite as much dust this way. You’ll use a lot more dust, but you can get intense color starting with a white coating base.

Petal Crafts African Violet (top) and Bordeaux (bottom)
Dust mixed in with melted paramount crystals
Paramount crystal mixture added to the melted coating
Adding more dust to coating
Original Lavender coating (center) and finished purple color (top and bottom)
This colored green coating started out as white

Since I added more dust to the lavender coating instead of first mixing it with the melted paramount crystals, the resulting purple has visible specks of matte dust in it. I only added the green dust to the melted crystals, so the final product has no color specks.

This is great if you only need small amounts of each color and don’t really need to buy a whole bag of colored coating for your project. The jars of dust are small, take up less space than bags of every color coating available, and the best part, don’t go bad. This means you can always buy fresh white coating, when you need several colors for a project, instead of wondering if the half bag of yellow in the cabinet will still melt properly.

For couverture, instead of an oil, you would melt a little bit of cocoa butter in order to add your dust.

One of the most fun uses for the matte dust I have discovered is coloring dry food like coconut. A tiny bit of dust will easily color a lot of coconut, rice cereal, or even Cheerios if your child is going through an only eat blue food phase. 😉

It is much harder to distribute the color from a wet food coloring when you are trying to achieve an even color throughout your project.

A little dust goes a long way, so be sure to add a little at a time.
Purple rice cereal and green coconut

Finally, if you mix the matte dust with a little bit of clear alcohol or clear extract, you can get a water color glazed effect when painted on dry surfaces.

Unpainted fondant leaves
Leaf painted with vodka andPetal Craft Mayan Green dust

You know what this means right?

I need to find a second drawer to put all my new dust colors in.



If you have uses for petal dust that I have not mentioned, please let me know. I always love to learn new techniques. I can’t wait to hear from you!

Want to get the latest posts by e-mail? Subscribe below:

  1. Hi, Thank you 😊 this is great for our Girl Scouts to earn their badges. I’m looking for the Leave…

Posted on Leave a comment

Please No… Anything But That!

No matter our profession or calling, there is always that one thing your job requires that you would give anything to avoid. Bakers are no different. You need me to do what? …or I can ice 500 sugar cookies, but please, anything but that…

As a most definitely not professional cake designer and baker, I know my limits. 3D sculpture cakes – nope. Carved cakes – basic shapes only. Fondant- sure. Buttercream – of course. Modeled figures – not my favorite, but okay. Then there is the one thing that I can’t turn down, yet I dread the entire ordeal.

I get a call or text from a potential client and my half of the conversation goes something like this:

“Sure, I am available to make a cake that weekend. How many people would you like to serve?”

“Great! Were you thinking buttercream or fondant?”

“Buttercream, no problem. Are you imagining a round or square cake?”

“Oh, a sheet cake…” Please no…

“Yes, we can do that as an edible image.” Fingers crossed…

“It should say (insert words here). Can you spell that for me?” And there it is.

“Great, I will touch base with you soon.”


I have been making cakes for over 10 years now, and still the thought of having to write words on a cake in buttercream makes me want to cry. Trying to get all the letters to line up straight, centered on the field, or correctly curved on a round cake…nightmare.

If you have ever made a cake, you find out right away whether you have the natural gift for writing on cakes, or you have every chance of your cake photo ending up on a “what not to do” blog. This one ( is my favorite. There does not seem to be much in between. After 10+ years, I am finally in the in between area, and it has been a lot of practice to get to this point.

A few weeks ago, I had a cake for an Eagle Scout ceremony. Awesome! It is such an accomplishment to get to Eagle Scout, so I am happy to be able to help celebrate. And then I get a photo of the cake idea… We were not just talking about “Congratulations, John!” We were talking about the Boy Scout Law. SO. MANY. WORDS.

Needless to say, after 2 hours of painstaking work, the cake contained the required words, in the correct order, which I felt was an accomplishment indeed.

Eagle Scout Cake with Eagle Scout Law and Badge

Since I am sure that other cake makers out there must suffer from the same paralyzing fear of word writing, I wanted to share a little about my process.

Before I go on, since you might not know me too well yet, there is no halfway for me when it comes to projects of this nature. So, I did not just sit down and plan how the words would go on the cake, I got the food-use only ruler out and actually measured the exact area on the cake the words would go.

If you are not as thorough as I am, you can skip this step, but it will take a little more trial and error for the next part.

Since I knew exactly how much room I had to fill with the words I needed to write, I was able to set up a document on the computer in a way that I knew exactly how large the letters could be. I knew I was working with a 1” space, so my letters had to be shorter than 1” tall in order to work. By playing around with different fonts and font sizes, I was able to get words printed exactly the way I wanted. I then cut them out and placed them on my cold, iced cake. Working from my templates, I was able to copy the words and have them turn out much better than they would have had I tried to freehand them.

Blank iced cake with word templates
Placing the words on a cold, iced cake

I used my handwritten version for the name, and of course, the end result sloped upwards a little. Lesson reiterated. Don’t use my own handwriting!

This week, I had another Eagle Scout cake to do. Thankfully, they did not want ALL the words on the cake, but they still wanted “EAGLE SCOUT” and a name. Okay, not so bad. This time, having learned from my last handwritten mistake, I printed out the words I needed and used them for my guide. The trick is using the paper printout as your baseline for where your letters end.

You start with your word placement.

Blank iced cake with word placement

Then you shift the paper down to the regular letter baseline. In this case the capitals fall below the initial baseline, so I did not start with the first letter. Using the paper as your stop, carefully copy the letters above their positions onto the cake.

Starting to copy letters onto cake

Then shift your template down slightly, and add your capital letters.

Adding the uppercase letters to the words

Finally, shift the template down once more so you can add any letters that fall below the baseline, like “g”, “j”, or “y”.

Finished word on cake

With any luck, one day you’ll be able to stop being so scared of writing on your cakes, and you’ll be excited when a customer asks for writing.

Finished cake detail

If that ever happens to me, I’ll be sure to let you know.

— Angie

Want to get the latest posts by e-mail? Subscribe below:

  1. Hi, Thank you 😊 this is great for our Girl Scouts to earn their badges. I’m looking for the Leave…