Making chocolate plastic or marzipan roses can elevate a simple cake into an elegant showstopper. The directions are the same for both materials but we will use marzipan in the instructions for easier reading. One thing to know in either case is that some people have hot hands – literally. If your fingers and hands are on the warmer side, it can be more difficult to handcraft chocolate roses and similar details. You will know whether your hands are exuding heat if the material you are working with seems to soften quickly and lose its shape. Have a freezer pack nearby to cool off your hands from time to time, wiping them dry before resuming.
The roses on the cake above were made by a newly graduated culinary school student; the ones below by someone who has been making them for years. Yours will have their own look and quality and will be gorgeous, too! All as unique as every real flower is from every other. Check here for the Apricot Roses directions.
Before you begin to mold roses by hand, we strongly recommend that you buy a rose from your local florist and take it apart to study the petals, leaves and general shape, construction and even the colors. This will help you create more realistic flowers yourself. We like using rose petal cutters, which you can find at Beryl’s or other cake decorating stores.
- Start with about ½ pound of marzipan. You can make the roses out of marzipan in its natural color, or you can tint before rolling out with gel coloring. You can also leave it natural and color the roses after they are done with powdered food coloring.
- Dust your surface lightly with confectioners’ sugar. Roll out the marzipan quite thinly, approximately 1/ 8-inch. Cut out petals using your cutters. The rose petal cutters are shaped similarly to a teardrop. You will need between 3 and 7 same-sized petals for most individual roses, depending on whether you are making rosebuds or fully blown blooms. Remove the excess marzipan from around the petals. Keep any extra marzipan tightly covered in plastic wrap.
- Loosen the petals from the board with an icing spatula. Dust with more confectioners’ sugar if necessary. Thin out the broad edges of the petals using a small rolling pin. We use a rolling pin such made specifically for gum paste and marzipan.
- The petals should be thin and delicate to give a realistic look. Think about what a real rose looks like and try to mimic that quality. For every rose, you need to mold a center. Take a piece of marzipan and roll it into a cone with the broad end down and the point of the cone top facing up. The height of the cone should be approximately the same as the length of the petals. The broadness of the base should be half that of the height.
- Take one of the petals and, using the point on the narrow end as a guide, fold the leaf in half lengthwise while still keeping the petal open. Pinch the bottom together. Gently flare out the top edge in a tight outward furl. Some asymmetry is permissible and even desired. Real roses are not perfect. The petals might have tiny cuts and a combination of loosely curled and tightly curled shapes, which we like.
- Place one petal against the cone base with the pinched end down. Somewhat flatten one side against the cone, leaving the other side open and away from the cone. This will allow another petal to be tucked beneath it in an overlapping manner just like a real rose. Repeat with a second petal, starting in the middle of the first petal applied. Your third petal will be tucked under the first. These three petals create a rosebud. You may add additional petals, each beginning in the middle of the one underneath. As you add more petals as outer layers, they should be more and more open and not as tight as the initial rows.
- The base at this point may be quite wide and clunky. Release the entire rose from your work surface using an offset spatula or thin, sharp knife by sliding it beneath the flower. Trim any excess marzipan with a sharp paring knife. Roll the bottom back and forth between your fingers to create a rounded shape. Again, you are trying to re-create what a real rose looks like. When you are done, use a small, soft brush to dust off any extra confectioners’ sugar that remains.
- The rose is done, but you may also brush with powdered food coloring as seen in our image, if you like. Roses may be stored for up to 3 days in an airtight container. Make sure they are upright and in a single layer. They are fragile.
LEAVES and TENDRILS
Leaves can be used in conjunction with flowers or on their own. You can leave the marzipan its natural color or tint the leaves various shades of green, either with gel coloring before creating the leaves, or tinting after with powdered coloring brushed on top.
We like to use purchased leaf cutters. Here we are talking about rose leaves, but you can also find cutters for maple, ivy, oak and others to expand your collection. Leaf veiners also help create a realistic look. Both can be found at Beryl’s or other well-stocked cake decorating sources.
Leaf veiners are plastic or silicone tools that come in almost as many shapes, as do cutters. They have raised vein patterns that make it easy to transfer their designs to your cut leaves. You can make veins individually using the blunt edge of a knife, but it will take a long time, especially when making many leaves at once.
Marzipan leaves should be made close to the time that you need to use them. They dry out a bit during storage, which makes it difficult to bend or manipulate them into the shapes you need when applying to your cake; you’ll frequently want to make last minute adjustments to their shape and drape and the leaf may crack if dry.
- Roll out your marzipan thinly to about 1/8-inch and cut out the number of leaves desired. Remove excess marzipan from around the leaves. Loosen the leaves from the board with an icing spatula.
- Press each leaf against the appropriate veining mat to create the realistic veins, which will really bring the leaves to life.
- If you want to give the leaves a realistic, organic shape, drape them over curved objects of various widths. We use various cans, bottles and jars, set on their sides. Rolling pins work, too. Wine bottles will give a nice gentle curve. Small objects, such as paper towel cardboard tubes will bend the leaves dramatically.
- To make tendrils, simply take a bit of marzipan and roll it out on your work surface with your hands into a long pencil shape. Keep rolling until it is as long and thin as you want. Gently taper the ends.
- Arrange roses on the cake first, then add leaves and tendrils where appropriate.