Yes, we had a chocolate wedding cake. And, yes, I DIY’d the decor for our winter wedding cake. Breaking tradition from all sides. Look, I don’t like white frosting, and I saw no reason not to have a dessert that I absolutely love at our wedding! Plus, I had a very clear wintery vision that I wanted to see through. Read on for all the details about our DIY winter wedding cake and, at the very end of the post, I’ll give you a peek at our groom’s cake.
WHY WE WENT WITH A DIY WINTER WEDDING CAKE
So, why did we go with a DIY cake for our winter wedding? Well, have y’all ever looked at the average price for a wedding cake? $500. Yes, $500 on cake that almost no one eats.
I know a few of you will say, “I always eat the wedding cake!” And I’m telling you, you must be the exception because I have countless friends who ended up with almost an entire cake following their reception. Plus, I have a huge sweet tooth and I’ve eaten wedding cake exactly once in my life—when it was little sushi-shaped mini-cakes at a wedding last summer.
With that in mind, I couldn’t imagine spending a significant portion of our budget on something no one is going to appreciate. Food and drink were certainly the areas where we splurged, but this is one area where I knew we’d save. I took to Pinterest looking for winter wedding cake ideas and, from there, assessed which I could actually pull off on my own. I’m not a baker, so I knew I would outsource the actual cake, but I could handle simple, yet elegant, winter-inspired decor. With the inspiration I found, Adam and I settled on a pinecone and evergreen themed winter wedding cake.
A UKROP’S BAKERY WEDDING CAKE
For the cake itself, I knew there was only one option. Those of you from Richmond likely have fond memories of Ukrop’s grocery stores (RIP)—rainbow cookies, butterstar cookies, and all. While the grocery store chain itself was sold years ago, their prepared foods and bakery live on and my all-time favorite cake continues to be their yellow cake with chocolate frosting.
Fortunately, you can order their cakes for pickup, which is exactly what I did. I placed an order for a 12″ round yellow pound cake (you can only get pound cake in this size) with chocolate frosting and had my sister grab it en route from Richmond to Charlottesville. It cost me $24.
HOW I CREATED THE CHOCOLATE AND ALMOND PINECONES
The winter wedding cake I followed for inspiration was this one. I made the chocolate pinecones the week before the wedding, then, when I got to Charlottesville, where my sister had the cake, I set them on the cake and interspersed sprigs of rosemary.
I did a bit of my own twist on the pinecone recipe from this website, using dark chocolate chips and vanilla extract instead of almond, but generally, this is what you’ll do:
2 12-oz bags of chocolate chips
14 oz. can evaporated milk
2 oz. butter
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Melt the chocolate, evaporated milk, butter, and vanilla extract in the microwave until smooth. Refrigerate overnight or until firm. Form chocolate into ovals of your desired size and lay on to parchment paper.
Melt a bit of extra chocolate to use as a glue. Dip sliced almonds in the melted chocolate and then arrange on to chocolate ovals in a pinecone pattern. Assuming you don’t have to make yours a week ahead and then transport several hours to your final destination, they should hold up beautifully!
A NOTE ON OUR GROOM’S CAKE
Per Southern tradition, we also had a groom’s cake. Typically, a groom’s cake is a smaller cake that incorporates a bit of fun, whimsy, and the groom’s personality or interests. For our groom’s cake, we also went the DIY route. Adam loves cookie cake and Kansas basketball, so my youngest sister, Kelly, a talented dessert maker, made a cookie cake and decorated it with an impressive rendition of a KU Jayhawk.
One of the highlights of the wedding weekend was a missing piece of the cookie cake. You can see in this photo that the cake is whole. Yet, at some point, before dinner started, we believe someone stole a bite. The case of the cookie caper was never solved…
Photos by Lauren Miller of Lauren Louise Collective