The sophisticated graphic design on this dramatic cake was fashioned from different sizes of chocolate nonpareils. A combination of round and square tiers extends the cake's architectural interest. Our 16 1/2-inch square cake board was cut from 1-inch-thick wood and painted white.



Ingredient Checklist


Instructions Checklist
  • Place each tier on a piece of foam board cut to fit it. Split the cake layer horizontally, and fill it to the specified height using whatever filling you desire. Spread the assembled tier with a 1/8-inch-thick layer of frosting to seal in crumbs, and chill until the crumb coat is set, about 30 minutes. Roll out the fondant for the tier 1/8 inch thick, following the package directions. Remove the tier from the refrigerator, and working quickly, lift fondant, center it over the tier, gently lay it on, and smooth it in place; trim excess fondant from bottom edge using a pizza wheel. Let coated tiers sit at room temperature in a cool place; do not refrigerate.

  • Support and stack the tiers: First insert the dowels in all but the top tier, placing them about 2 1/2 inches from the edge and spacing them about 2 1/2 inches apart. To stack the tiers, first place the bottom tier on the platter or cake board, using a rubber nonslip mat under the foam board to keep the tier from slipping. Then stack on the other tiers, brushing tops of fondant-covered tiers lightly with water so the fondant becomes sticky.

  • Prepare the decorations: On a few baking sheets covered with parchment paper, separate out the most beautiful chocolate nonpareils, and sort them according to size. You will need about 40 of the large candies, 262 of the medium candies, and 180 of the small candies. Make the royal icing, and place it in a pastry bag fitted with a coupler and an Ateco #3 round tip.

  • Decorate the tiers, using the photograph as a guide: To decorate the top tier, pipe a small dot of royal icing on the back of some medium candies (about 38) as glue, and attach in two rows approximately 1/4 inch down from the top edge; pipe dots of royal icing at the top and bottom of each candy. For the second tier (8-inch round), attach medium candies (about 40) in diagonal lines about 33/4 inches apart, and diagonal lines of small candies (about 88) between the first lines; pipe dots at the top and bottom of each candy. For the third tier (10-inch square), attach medium candies in tightly spaced rows to cover (about 30 per side), and pipe dots where candies touch. For the fourth tier (12-inch square), attach medium candies in a diamond pattern (about 34), then attach small candies at the point of each diamond (about 52); pipe dots where the candies touch. For the bottom tier (14-inch square), attach a row of large candies (about 40) to the bottom edge, then attach medium and small candies above them; pipe dots where candies touch. If not displaying immediately, keep cake in a cool room, away from direct sunlight.