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These chocolate leaves are a simple and beautiful way to decorate cakes and a limitless number of other desserts. Even a scoop of ice cream becomes fancy with a couple of these strategically placed on top. Because these can be made a couple days in advance, they are an excellent touch for busy dinner parties.
You can use your preference of chocolate (bittersweet, semisweet, milk, white..). I used white because I love how they look; especially paired with these golden berries and matcha vanilla bean cream cheese frosting. Four ounces of chocolate should make about 15-20 leaves, depending on the sizes of leaves that you choose.
For your mold you can use fakes leaves, but I prefer to use real leaves with a prominent vein structure. This is what will give you the most beautiful detailing. If you are using real, make 100% sure that it is pesticide free and not a poisonous varietal. I recommend heading to the grocery store, not the backyard. Lemon, basil, and mint leaves are great for this use – I used mint! And I like to have size variations, so I selected both larger and smaller leaves.
equipment you’ll need
- A tray that will fit inside of your refrigerator
- Parchment paper or tin foil
- A double boiler (or glass bowl, or microwave – see note below)
- Bowl to set double boiler on
- A digital food thermometer
- Leaves (real or fake)
- Optional – decorative baking powder for a metallic or colorful touch
how to make easy chocolate leaves
Prepare a tray by lining it with either parchment paper or tin foil. You want to make sure that this tray will fit into your fridge. Chop the chocolate into chunks to make the melting faster and smoother.
Bring some water to a gentle simmer on your stovetop. Set a double boiler with chopped up chocolate in it on top. As the chocolate melts give it an occasional stir. Don’t heat it any higher than 40°C (104°F). Looks yummy already. [See microwave information below.]
Have a bowl with some hot water ready on a heat safe surface. Once the chocolate has melted, move the double boiler to sit on the bowl. The hot water will help maintain the melted consistency of the chocolate while you work.
Working with fresh leaves, I like to leave them in the fridge right up until this point to keep them from wilting. This is where you’ll pull them out and start selecting your leaves. Don’t pluck them from the stem until right as you’re about to paint each one.
Holding a leaf in your hand, turn it upside down and paint the underside of it with a small paintbrush. I like to use a brush that is somewhat soft when working with the delicate leaves. Make sure that you coat it thoroughly; especially the veins. Try not to get any chocolate overlapping the sides of the leaves as this will make it much more difficult to peel off later.
Place each leaf chocolate-side up onto the prepared tray. Chill the tray in the fridge for about 45 minutes, or until the chocolate has become completely firm. If you feel that you missed some spots or see the veins poking through, after the chocolate has chilled halfway you can do some patch work with some more melted chocolate.
Once the chocolate is firm, you can begin to remove the leaves. Carefully holding a leaf by the stem, slowly peel it back towards the top of the leaf and off of the chocolate. Watch my video below if you would like to see the technique for doing this. If you are making a lot of leaves, be careful that they don’t sit out of the fridge for too long while you’re working on peeling them all as they will soften and become difficult to work with. If you find this is happening, pop them back in the fridge for a bit to firm up again.
Optionally, you can add an extra fancy touch by brushing on some colourful decorating powder to add colour to the leaves. Use a small brush dipped in the powder to dab it on. I think that gold or silver would be gorgeous. In my stuffed strawberries I use matcha powder to colour the leaves a beautiful green.
Cover and store the chocolate leaves in the refrigerator until you plan to use them later. They can be made a couple days ahead of time. Any longer than that they will start to develop condensation spots from being in the fridge.
It is possible to melt the chocolate using a microwave if you don’t have a double boiler. Be very careful and heat in very small increments of 15 seconds, stirring frequently, because overdoing it can cause the chocolate to seize up and it will become unusable. I would recommend getting a little double boiler or alternatively a glass bowl. I got my double boiler on Amazon for a very good price.
[Note] If you would like these leaves to stay set and firm at room temperature, the chocolate must be tempered first. Check out my ‘Complete Guide on How to Temper Chocolate‘ for step-by-step instructions and helpful tips.Print
A beautiful way to decorate cakes and a limitless number of other desserts.
4 ounces (113 g) white chocolate, roughly chopped
Carefully melt chocolate in a completely dry double boiler over gently simmering water on stovetop, stirring often. Don’t let the chocolate reach a temperature over 40°C (104°F).
Once melted, set the double boiler on top of a bowl of hot water on a heat-safe surface.
Using a small brush, thickly coat the underside of the leaves with melted chocolate, thoroughly covering the veins. Avoid overlapping the edges of the leaves to make the peeling process easier later.
Lay each leaf chocolate side up on the prepared tray. Chill the tray in your fridge for about 45 minutes, or until the chocolate is completely firm.
Carefully holding the stem of a leaf, slowly peel it back towards the top of the leaf and off of the chocolate. Repeat this process with each leaf.
Cover and store the chocolate leaves in the fridge until later use. (If you want the chocolate to set and be stable at room temperature, you must temper it first. Follow my complete guide on how to temper chocolate.)
Make a few more extra than you need. Mistakes can happen, so be prepared.
If you are using a microwave to melt the chocolate, do it very slowly in 15 second increments to prevent it from seizing up and becoming unusable.
These can be made a couple days in advance. Any longer than that, the leaves will begin to form condensation spots from being stored in the fridge.
Keywords: chocolate leaves, chocolate, cake decor