Create chocolate cutouts: Melt a 4-ounce bar of sweet cooking chocolate or 4 ounces of semisweet baking chocolate. Spread the melted chocolate over the outside bottom of an 8-inch square pan. Refrigerate until firm bring to room temperature. Use cookie cutters in desired shapes and sizes to make cutouts. Refrigerate until ready to place on the cake.
Garnish with chocolate curls: Place a bar or block of chocolate on a sheet of waxed paper let stand in a warm place for 15 minutes. Press a vegetable parer firmly against the bar of chocolate and pull the parer toward you in long, thin strokes to make curls. Transfer each curl carefully with a wooden pick to avoid breaking.
Dust with powdered sugar, cinnamon or cocoa: Place a paper doily or stencil on top of a frosted or unfrosted cake. Shake powdered sugar generously through a sieve over the doily carefully remove doily. Try cocoa mixed with powdered sugar for added color variation.
Embellish with fresh flowers: Place fresh flowers in floral tubes. Poke the tubes right into the cake top. Remove the containers before slicing the cake.
Thread it: Frost the cake with a fluffy frosting. Dip a piece of white sewing thread in liquid food color stretching it taut, press into frosting. Repeat, using a new thread for each color.
Go geometric: Pour melted chocolate or chocolate syrup over the top of a frosted layer cake, beginning with a small circle in the center and encircling with larger circles 1 inch apart. Alternately draw a spatula or knife from the center outward and from the outside inward 8 times.
Make waves: Use the tines of a fork to make wave designs in the frosting.
On the wedge: Mark top and side of a frosted layered cake into 8 equal wedges and panels. Sprinkle candies over alternate wedges and press onto alternate side panels.
Pick your own pattern: Draw a design on a frosted cake, or dip a cookie cutter in food color and press it into the frosting. Fill in the design with crushed candies, colored sugar or chopped nuts.
From "Betty Crocker's Ultimate Cake Mix Cookbook." Text Copyright 2004 General Mills, Inc. Used with permission of the publisher, Wiley Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
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