Beach Cake Techniques: Shells and Shade

July 3rd, 2012 by Kim Feledy

Nothing says summer like the beach, but a beach cake with just sand and water can be boring. Dress up your cake with seashells and palm trees!


You can make seashells with Candy Melts® or fondant using our Seashells Candy Mold or our new Sea Life Fondant and Gum Paste Mold. Both molds are very versatile; you can use Candy Melts® or fondant in both molds.


You can marbelize the shells using our marbelizing candy technique or make your seashells more personal by marbelizing them more individually. Using a parchment bag, pipe a small amount of melted orange candy randomly in the mold, then pipe a small amount of white over it. You could also use peanut butter or light cocoa Candy Melts® for different colors. Looking through the bottom of the mold, use a toothpick to swirl the colors together until you get the desired look. Fill the rest of the mold with white candy and refrigerate until set. This same method can be done in the fondant mold, but keep in mind you can’t see through it.


Make fondant seashells using the same technique shown in our Serenity by the Sea Castle Cake or our Sea Life All Around Cake using Wilton’s candy mold or Sea Life Fondant and Gum Paste Mold. Add Pearl Dust™ to give your shells a shine, either by using white pearl dust or using same colored pearl dust as your fondant. For example, the pink fondant starfish can be dusted with pink pearl dust for a brighter fun look. You can also use pearl dust to accent details on shells from fondant mold.

Palm Trees

To make leaves, you can use fondant with gum-tex, gum paste, spearmint leaves or taffy. I have used all of these, depending on my project and the weather.

To make palm trees, you can follow the Palm Tree Technique on our website. Depending on the size of the tree, I select an appropriate size cutter from the Leaf Cut-Outs™ and the follow the decorating technique steps on Wilton’s website.

For smaller trees you can use taffy: simply flatten by hand or roll out with a fondant roller and follow the same steps for fondant leaves. Attach the leaves to the pretzel with melted candy.

Taffy Leaves Palm Tree

I have also used the leaf from our Baroque Fondant/Gum paste mold to make a small palm tree. Let dry overnight in a large forming cup and attach to a pretzel with green Candy Melts® or royal icing.

Using the same technique as listed on our website, you can use jelly spearmint leaves instead of fondant like in our Happy Habitat Cookies and Candy project. If you would like to make smaller trees, use the same technique but don’t roll out spearmint leaves. Instead, simply cut lengthwise in thirds and coat in granulated sugar. You can use royal icing to attach the leaves to pretzel rods or use green Candy Melts® to attach leaves to tree, which is a great time-saver (weather permitting).

Fondant Leaves Palm Tree

I think pretzel rods are the best for making tree trunks because of their structure – and they taste good! You can also make trunks out of long (2 3/4″) chocolate nougat candies, but you need to insert lollipop sticks in the nougat to help hold up the trunk and leaves.

To make spikes on the trunk, I used a small pair of scissors and cut random little slits in the nougat. You can also cut a strip of fondant, punch the side of the strip with our grass punch, and wrap the fondant around the pretzel, attaching it with icing. This method is best with large pretzel rods.

Make a big splash at your next party with a beach-themed cake. To learn more about creating sand and water for your tropical cake, please read my blog post, Beach Cake Techniques: Sand and Surf.

Kim Feledy Kim is one of the cake decorators in the Creative Decorating Room at Wilton. She spends her day bringing the designers' sketches to life and adding her own creations. She loves working at Wilton because every day is something new. She enjoys helping people create creative art with food and still enjoy eating it. Before joining Wilton, Kim worked in bakeries, and she also has a degree in Culinary Arts. To expand her decorating skills, she has completed numerous of classes at the Wilton School of Cake Decorating and Confectionery Art. When not working in the decorating room she continues to make wonderful desserts that look and taste great for family and friends. She is always continuing to learn about decorating and arts every day, creating new innovative ways to create stylish desserts.

7 Replies

  1. lould like to know if there is whilte chocolate powder to make white chocolate cake

  2. Kim Feledy says:

    I have not personally used white chocolate cocoa powder. I did see Ghiradelli makes a white cocoa powder or country kitchen has a white chocoalte flavoring. Hopefully this can get you started, good luck!

  3. Nancy Arntsen says:

    I will be making a cake that I would like to cover with buttercream frosting, and make fondant shells that I will attach to it. I want to make the cake in advance of the event, and freeze it. I assume that the fondant shells will harden if left uncovered, something that I don’t want. Would it be better to make the shells out of candy melts, and if so, what would be the best way to attach them to the cake? If they are attached to the cake, can everything be frozen together?

    • Kim Feledy says:

      Yes the fondant shells will harden especially if you add gum tex to the fondant. If you want to use fondant and want to keep it soft as possible, i would suggest not using gum tex and keeping pieces in a zip lock bag to keep fresh. I would then attach them to cake using buttercream the day of occasion to keep them as soft as possible. They will start to crust over but the inside will be soft for your occasion. You can use candy to make shells but it to is hard. I would attach candy to cake using buttercream as well but would attach to cake day before occasion or day of. Keep in mind that candy does melt if you are in a warmer climate. I would not freeze candy on cake, i would just keep in zip lock or container until ready to attach. I would not freeze because i would worry about the condensation that may develop on candy from going to freezer to room temp causing candy to possbily fall off or even bleed on cake. I hope this helps.

  4. Faith says:

    I want to make seashells using fondant that will remain soft, I have a candy mould at home. Last time I tried, it all just got stuck and wouldn’t pop out, and I’ve been told to use gum paste.
    Is there a way I can use the fondant?

    • Kim Feledy says:

      Yes you should be able to use fondant in your mold. I would dust the mold iteself with cornstarch or cornstarch and powder sugar mixture (50/50), then push fondant in and then take out right away. Also maybe try taping the mold slightly to help the fondant to release. As far as keeping it soft, you will need to keep them in an airtight container or zip lock bag until ready to use. I would say you could leave in container/bag for 3 to 4 days before it really starts to dry out. It will get some what hard on the outside due to air exposure but the inside should stay somewhat soft (depending on how long you leave it exposed to air). You can use gumpaste as well and if have same sticking issues in your mold, follow step above. However gumpaste is made to become hard, i don’t recommended to use if you want to keep it soft as you stated.
      Hope this helps!!

  5. […] if you want your shells to look more realistic then try the marbleizing technique as seen here. Speaking of realistic…make sure to invest in a wide variety of gel colors. Personally, I […]

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