An edible cake topper is a fun and unique finishing touch to a birthday, wedding, or other special-occasion cake. Purchase the toppers ready to go or make ahead of time and place on a cake after decoration. Depending on what you intend the final version of your cake to look like, you can choose one of many varieties of these toppers.
Ideas for Cake Toppers You Can Eat
An edible cake topper can be as simple as a fresh strawberry used as a garnish or as complicated as a detailed figure made from sugar paste and hand painted. To choose the cake topper that's best for your occasion, consider the flavor and texture of your cake and the audience who will be at the celebration. If you're using a boxed cake mix for a kids' birthday party, it may be better to use fresh fruit, buttercream swirls, or chocolate curls instead of complex sugar-paste toppers. But if you're making delicate, homemade wedding cupcakes, an elegant collection of pastel sugar toppers could be very fitting for the occasion.
Fondant or Gum Paste Decorations
Fondant and gum paste are edible sugar dough that can be rolled out, cut, shaped, and modeled to form figurines. Though these sugar pastes are complicated to make at home, they can be purchased from cake decorating stores, baking specialty stores, or even some large supermarkets. Some cake artists make their living by creating detailed, realistic edible toppings for cakes.
At home, sprinkle a flat work surface with a mixture of cornstarch and powdered sugar. Roll out the sugar paste to the desired thickness (usually between 1/8" and 1/4"), and use a sharp knife, cookie cutter, or fondant cutter to make the paste into shapes. Alternately, you can roll gum paste to very thin sheets and mold separate pieces together into flowers and other detailed decorations. Let these toppers dry before placing them on a cake.
If you don't have the time or artistic skills to make your own toppers from fondant or gum paste, you can purchase pre-made toppers from commercial baking-supply companies. These shapes are professionally made and can simply be laid on top of large frosted cakes or cupcakes with no other decorations needed.
One downside of using pre-made toppers is that they may not taste the same as homemade toppers or toppers made from a more palatable frosting, such as buttercream. These toppers are also usually quite stiff, so their texture is a marked difference from the softness of fresh cake and gooey frosting.
Decorative Food Toppers
If you want a cake topper that tastes good and looks attractive, a natural food may be the best choice. Fresh fruits and berries make delicious, easy toppers for cakes and cupcakes, and they can enhance or contrast with the flavor of the dessert as well. To make fresh fruit shiny for decoration and help it stay fresh longer, melt a small amount of apricot jam and use a pastry brush to paint it on berries or slices of fruit before placing them on cakes.
Other foods also make successful cake toppers. Use a vegetable peeler to create decorative curls or swirls of chocolate and place them in whipped cream, on top of cupcakes, or in a ganache. Form a border for a cream-cheese frosting with shreds of fresh carrot, lemon zest, raisins, or currants. Use shaved coconut, jellybeans, or powdered sugar to add texture and feel to a cake.
Many bakeries and decorating companies sell customized photo cakes. Interested customers can order software and printing materials for these cakes online and create the edible images at home. Some bakeries also offer custom imaging for cupcakes, so a favorite character or personalized photo can be printed on an entire batch of small cakes for a party with many guests.
A Delicious Alternative to Standard Toppers
Edible cake toppers are an excellent and delicious choice for decorating cakes or cupcakes. A plethora of options is available, from hand-formed flowers and figures to purchased, pre-made toppers.