I’ve been finding a lot of inspiration at the candy store lately. There’s something so wonderful about all those bins of colorful candies – jawbreakers, gummybears and jelly beans (and etcetera) – just looking at them makes me feel happy and energetic. (Or maybe I’m just having a sugar rush. It’s hard to say, really.)
My last trip yielded a giant tub of candy necklaces and an extra large package of strawberry-stripe marshmallows called Puffy Poles. The two looked so pretty when I held them together, I felt certain that they would live harmoniously on a candy-inspired cake.
I already had a clear image of what I wanted the cake to look like, so it was just a matter of choosing a cake flavor and putting it all together. The Puffy Poles are really soft and delicious with a pronounced strawberry flavor, and I didn’t want to take away from that. I ended up making a simple white cake swirled with pastel color. The frosting is Swiss meringue buttercream – it had to be. It doesn’t crust like American buttercream frosting, so you can take your time applying the candies and marshmallows to the sides of the cake.
My method for accessorizing the cake with the candy necklaces is demonstrated in the picture above. I snipped the elastic string with scissors and then gently draped the necklace around the cake’s top tier. It’s good to have another person help you pat the candies gently into the icing while you hold the two ends in place. The elastic is so small and stretchy, it is very easy to let go of the two ends before it’s completely anchored down. I’ll say it again for emphasis – it is VERY easy to let go of the two ends, so it’s a good idea to have a helper,otherwise you may end up with candy beads in spilled down one side of the cake.
Once the beads are in place, you can pull out the elastic string! Viola!
I used two 6-inch springform pans for the bottom tier and one 4-inch pan for the top tier. It made for a dainty little cake, but with the added marshmallows, you’ll still need a standard 8-9-inch cake stand.
I really love the scratch-made white cake recipe I’ve included below, but there’s no reason you couldn’t give any cake the Marshmallow-Candy Swirl treatment. You can find Puffy Poles marshmallow in every color here, and bulk candy necklaces here.
Marshmallow-Candy Swirl Cake
[click for printable version]
Yield: 14 servings: One double layer 6-inch tier and one single layer 4-inch tier
Prep: 1 hour, total time about 2 hours 30 minutes
3 1/2 cups/287g cake flour (such as Swan’s down, do not substitute homemade cake flour)
1 Tbsp plus 1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
6 large egg whites, room temp
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups/12.75 oz whole milk, room temp
1 cup/113g unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups/298g sugar
Pink, yellow and green food color
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 6-inch pans and one 4-inch pan; line with parchment.
Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside. Whisk together egg whites and milk in a separate bowl; set aside.Beat butter using the paddle attachment until soft and creamy. Add sugar gradually and beat until light and fluffy. Scrape down the bowl as needed. Beat in vanilla.Add flour mixture alternately with the egg white/milk mixture. Begin and end with flour mixture and beat until smooth on medium-low speed after each addition.Divide batter between three bowls evenly; color each bowl of batter with a food color. Divide batter between pans, pouring in different colors into each pan and swirling them gently with a knife or skewer. Bake 6-inch cakes at 350 for about 25-30 minutes. Bake 4-inch layer for 20-22 minutes. Let cool slightly in pan, then turn out and cool completely.
Buttercream and decors6 egg whites1 cup/198g sugarPinch of salt1 pound unsalted butter, cubed, at room temperatureSeeds of 1 Tahitian vanilla bean
Blue food colorConfetti sprinkles for decorating
5 candy necklaces, multicolor
25 Puffy Poles strawberry marshmallows
Whisk together the egg whites, sugar, and salt in a large heatproof bowl. Set over the simmering water and whisk until the mixture is hot to the touch and the sugar has dissolved.Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.Beat on low speed for 2 minutes. Increase to medium-high until stiff peaks are formed.Continue beating at medium-high speed until the mixture is fluffy and has cooled (the mixing bowl should feel cool to the touch).Turn the mixer off and switch from the whisk attachment to the paddle. Turn the mixer on medium-low and add the butter, a few cubes at a time, beating until well incorporated before the next addition. The egg whites will deflate and thin with the first few additions – don’t let this discourage you – keep going. It may also look curdled, but don’t fret. Beat on high speed when all the butter has been added. The mixture will thicken and become smooth after several minutes of beating. Beat in the vanilla bean seeds. Transfer about 2/3 cup to a bowl and fold in one or two drops of blue food color. Transfer frosting to a piping bag fitted with a large closed star tip; set aside.
Fill and frost the cake layers with the remaining frosting. Stack the smaller tier, centered, on top of the larger tier. Place the marshmallows vertically around the entire bottom circumference of the large tier. Using the blue frosting in the piping bag, pipe decorative swirls along the tops of the marshmallows. Sprinkle the blue frosting with confetti sprinkles.
Snip the elastic on the candy necklaces and, while holding the two ends, drape it across the bottom of the smaller cake tier. Don’t stretch the necklace! You want all of the beads to be perfectly lined up, and stretching will make them separate. Gently pat the necklaces into the frosting so they stick (I had to have a helper for this, it’s not as easy as it sounds!). When all the beads are embedded into the frosting, gently pull the elastic string free and discard. If you need more beads to finish the line around the cake, snip another necklace and place the beads onto the cake with your fingers. Repeat the process with the remaining necklaces. You will have candies left over – but don’t eat them! Safe them for the next step.
Pipe blue frosting stars around the top edge of the top cake tier. Place a candy bead on top of each piped star.
Serve cake to delighted guests.