The cake was for a family member who was getting married. She got married on a beach, and had a very small wedding. The family wanted a wedding cake for a surprise reception (the bride wasn't expecting it at all!)
The three-tiered square cake is stacked off-center of one another and covered in a sandy-colored fondant (the fondant is homemade marshmallow fondant). The bottom of each tier is lined with small pearls that I rolled from the same colored fondant (stuck on with a bead of royal icing). The cake board is covered in brown sugar to resemble sand.
Each of the three tiers of the cake has four faces (obviously...it is a square, after all). Each of the faces has the same basic design: Coral in the background, a starfish and two sand dollars on top of that, and two smaller sea shells on top of that.
Making the coral was definitely the most time-consuming and delicate part of this cake. I found some line drawings of different coral patterns that I liked (they basically looked like coloring pages) and printed them out. I laid them on the countertop and placed a long sheet of parchment paper over them. The pictures were still visible through the parchment paper. Then, I filled a decorating bag with melted white chocolate, found the tiniest tip possible, and traced the outline of the coral drawing with the chocolate on the parchment paper. I made one for each face of the cake, plus several extra in case of breakage (thank goodness I did, because there was a lot of breakage!)
To make the starfish, sand dollars, and sea shells, I used chocolate and molds. I colored white chocolate with a hint of pink for the starfish, and a few light brown streaks for the shells. We made waaaay too many sea shells, so we made a little platter of the extra sea shells, and they were a big hit!
Use royal icing or melted chocolate to "glue" the decorations onto the cake. Be careful with the coral - it melts quickly upon touching, and breaks very easily!
For the top tier of the cake, we made a large chunk of coral using poured sugar instead of white chocolate. Simply place some granulated sugar in a saucepan, melt it, heat it up to hard-crack stage, and color if desired (for this cake, we left it uncolored). Then, choose a plastic container that is about the size of how big you want your coral, and fill it with ice (cubes > crushed, any shape you want). When the sugar reaches hard-crack stage, slowly and carefully pour it over the ice. The ice will make the sugar harden, and when it melts, you have your coral! It will come out translucent - if you like the look of it, great. If you want to add a little more texture (we did for this cake), you can cover it in more granulated sugar. The sugar will stick to the sticky surfaces of the coral, and the excess will shake off.
After placing the coral on the top of the cake, you can arrange chocolate sand dollars, starfish, and sea shells around it until you are pleased with the look. To top it all off, we made two chocolate sea horses instead of traditional bride and groom toppers. When you pour the chocolate into the mold, insert lollipop sticks - then you can position the sticks down inside your coral until they are no longer visible.