How to make a chocolate transfer


When I discovered cake decorating, one of the first books I fell in love with was The Whimsical Bakehouse – Fun-to-Make Cakes That Taste as Good as They Look  by Liv Hansen and Kaye Hansen. One of the techniques covered in the book is how to make chocolate transfers. These edible decorations can be made weeks in advance. They can be made large for an impressive cake topper or small for a fun cupcake topper. The fluidity of the chocolate lends itself to fine-line designs that can be hard to replicate in other ways.

You should know these basic tips before working with chocolate:

  • Do not get any water in the chocolate because it will make it seize.
  • Because of the water issue, you cannot use gel food colors in chocolate. Instead, you must use candy colors, which are oil-based.
  • Follow the directions to heat your chocolate in the microwave in short intervals. It burns easily.
  • You must print a “mirror image” of your design. This is especially important if there is wording on your design.
  • You may store chocolate transfers for up to a month in a cool place. Use an airtight container.


This is what I used:

Large flat cookie sheet

Images printed to desired size


Parchment paper

Candy melts- I use this brand because it is nut-free. Other brands would work as well.

Candy colors

Fine tip squeeze bottle (parchment cones are also recommended and can be found at the same link)

Step 1:

Arrange the images by spacing them out on your cookie sheet. This will allow you to rotate it and work on one at a time without bumping into the others.


Step 2:

Tape down your images to your cookie sheet and lay the parchment paper over them. You may also tape the edges of your parchment paper to keep it steady at this point.


Step 3:

Choose a color scheme. I had four squeeze bottles so I decided on black, pink, blue and white.


Step 4:

Melt your candy melts then add the candy colors. For the black outline color, I needed a lot so I am pouring it in this photo. For the pale blue and pink, I carefully added a small amount with the tip of a toothpick. (Tip: You can make this step faster if you buy pre-colored candy melts.)


Step 5:

Stir well.


This silicone bowl is flexible so I used it to pour the chocolate directly into my sqeeze bottles.  (Tip: The less you fill the bottles, the lighter and easier they are to control. I learned this in the process.)


Step 6:

Pipe your outlines in black or your desired color.


Step 7:

Add your first accent color. I was using a free-form approach to paint in my accent colors. You can be as structured or as loose as you want with your colors.


Step 8:

Add any additional accent colors. Remember that you have to work in reverse order from the front of the image to the background because it will be flipped over in the end.


Step 9:

Add a thick background of white. Be sure that the white chocolate slightly overlaps your original black outline at the edges. This will make the decoration strong when it is flipped over.


Step 10:

Allow your transfers to cool at room temperature for at least 15 minutes. Touch the backs gently to ensure they are hard. At this point, you can remove any tape from the edge of your parchment paper. I carefully cut my parchment into four squares so I was able to flip each design over into my hand and peel the parchment from the back slowly.


This is what it looks like when you flip over your transfer. This is why you printed a “mirror image.”


Optional: You can add “relief piping” or fondant accents to the finished side of your transfers for added interest. I cut out some tiny flowers from fondant, then gently shaped them on a foam mat by using a ball tool and a stick tool.


I attached them to my birdhouse with dots of melted chocolate.


The finished transfers could be added to the top or sides of a cake. They could also be used as cupcake toppers. I hope you enjoyed the tutorial!


Happy Caking!



  1. I’ve had the Whimsical Bakehouse book for a while and this tutorial helped me get the nerve to finally give this a try! I think I did everything you said but my transfer cracked. I thought maybe I had a temperature problem with the chocolate so I tried again. Better, but the colors I used didn’t seem level. The middle seemed raised. I was attempting a cartoon dog to use on a cake with several colors. Any thoughts on the cracking?

  2. Did you allow your layers to harden one at a time? I’m just wondering if there is any bleeding with the colors if you do it all at once. I have done this method with buttercream frosting but never with chocolate.

    • Hi Miriam, I start with the outline color. Then I melt and use all of the additional colors one at a time in sequence. The chocolate dries so quickly that each color is dry by the time I’m adding the next one. If one of your colors was still soft when you added the next, i don’t think they would bleed. But you might bump into the soft color and disturb the line of the design possibly. I hope that answered your question. Good luck 🙂

  3. I have heard of buttercream transfers but that always looked too messy. I loveeeeee this idea of chocolate transfer. Can you imagine the possibilities? My god…my mind is racing with ideas..,hehehe

  4. Thank you Renee, this is great. It is very easy to follow and straight forward. Keep sharing your awesome ideas. Can’t wait to see what is next.

  5. I love this, thank u so much for sharing. You have made it look fairly straight forward, I will definitely try. Do u just photocopy an image?

    • Helen, if you have access to a computer, you can Google coloring page images. That way, you find images with nice strong outlines. Remember to print the ‘mirror image’, especially if there are words invoved.If you don’t have acces to a computer or printer, you could photocopy an image, lay parchment paper over it and trace it with a fine marker. You could then flip the parchment and pipe directly on the back side of it. When you reveal your transfer, it will be true to the original image.

  6. Tina, good question! Yes, the chocolate can harden fairly quickly so you have to be organized and work quickly. I heat up only one color at a time as I am ready to work with it. If you are using parchment cones, you can place them on a very low warming plate. If you are working with the squeeze bottles, you can stand them in a warm water bath to keep them melted longer.

  7. Do you have to work fairly quickly before chocolate begins to cool too much to work with? Do u need to keep warm somehow while working with it?

  8. I never knew such things existed even!! It’s so cute. But I can’t try it because, candy melts are not available here ( not even chocolate chips!! )
    But I’m interested in knowing how you do those buttercream transfers. would you mind sharing a post on that?

    • Roshini, I’m planning on it for a future post! In the meantime, you can google frozen buttercream transfers to find some good photo and video tutorials that are already online 🙂

  9. Hi Renee,

    I have a question. I love this tutorial and can’t wait to try this! Thing is, I’m from Europe, and Candy Melts are pretty expensive here. Can I instead use a normal chocolate bar to melt and color?


    • Hi Elfi. I agree..good quality candy melts are expensive. I haven’t personally tried it out, but you can feel free to experiment with almond bark, white chocolate chips or white candy bars. Remember to use oil based candy colors or your chocolate will seize. I’d experiment with a simple 2 tone design at first until you make sure it works. That way you invest less prep time. Let me know the results! 🙂

  10. Oh, that was always one of my favorite books; but haven’t used the technique in a long time. Thanks for reminding me that this is so beautiful; and your interpretation is even better than the books!

  11. Pretty darn amazing how little tricks can make a difference in the overall look of a cake. Glad you shared this with us.
    An avid buyer of cook books….I will look into this one.

  12. The Whimsical Bakehouse is one of my very favorite books! Love to use this technique. Thanks for always sharing great tips, tricks and techniques, you are super talented! Have a sweet day!!


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