How to Make an Easy Mermaid Theme Cake with Chocolate Mermaid Tails and a Buttercream Cascade
Looking for the perfect cake for a mermaid theme birthday? This mermaid cake has it all: a sea blue cake wrapped with a stunning reef-like buttercream cascade, accented with sparkling chocolate mermaid tails and seashells. Surprise the birthday girl with her very own miniature version called a “Wish Cake”! You won’t believe how easy it is to make this cake as we break it down for you step by step.
Mermaids have been a trendy topic for quite some time, and they don’t seem to be losing steam any time soon. Especially popular among young girls, mermaid-themed birthday parties are in high demand. We had the opportunity to make this eye-catching mermaid cake for the daughter of a friend of ours.
The bright color palette of this cake is perfect for a mermaid theme without being too literal. The teal buttercream on the base of the cake hints of ocean water, while the intricate buttercream cascade references a vibrant coral reef. The shimmering mermaid tails and seashells, along with the chocolate pearls sprinkled throughout are a charming final touch to this mermaid cake.
The elaborate buttercream cascade looks complicated but is rather easy to make with a handful of icing tips. The mermaid tails and seashells are simply melted candy melts painted with shimmer spray.
How cute is this mermaid mini-cake?! We used two 4-inch cakes and the same design to create this tiny version of the large mermaid cake.
We call these mini-cakes “Wish Cakes” and make them to accompany our birthday cake and cupcake orders.
The birthday girl (or boy) has her very own special cake for candle-blowing and wish-making, and then to enjoy all to herself! The kids love them!
Follow along with our step by step tutorial and photos to easily bring this mermaid cake together!
Base Cake and Buttercream
What You’ll Need:
This mermaid cake is made of 6-inch round cakes stacked 3 high. Any cake will do-pick your favorite from-scratch recipe or box mix!
It will take about 3 to 4 cups of buttercream to stack, crumb coat, and cover this cake.
We have an awesome buttercream recipe that is versatile and easy to make! The recipe can be adjusted to create the consistency of frosting you’re needing from thick (for piping flowers) to medium (perfect for piping details) to smooth (just right for icing a cake).
With its not-too-sweet buttery flavor, our buttercream is always a crowd pleaser!
One batch of our buttercream recipe will yield about 6 cups of stiff frosting. Reserve about 2 1/2 cups for the cascading design. Use the remaining 3 1/2 cups to stack, crumb coat, and cover the cake.
Follow our suggestions from our buttercream recipe post to adjust the buttercream’s consistency:
● About 2 1/2 cups for the cascade → medium consistency
● About 3 1/2 cups for stacking, crumb coating, and covering → smooth consistency
Once you have 3 1/2 cups of smooth buttercream, it’s time to color it. The ocean water shade is made with Wilton’s Teal Icing Color. Start with just a little by dipping a toothpick into the icing color and adding that to your buttercream. For a bolder deeper shade, simply add more icing color to your liking.
Stacking a multi-layered cake can be a challenge. Good technique and practice will make it a heck of a lot easier. For a helpful tutorial, check out this video by British Girl Bakes.
Once you have crumb coated the cake, cover it with a healthy layer of buttercream. Don’t worry too much about smoothing the frosting perfectly, because you’ll be covering imperfections in the next step.
Use an icing spatula to create the textured pattern around the cake. If you don’t have an icing spatula, a knife or even a spoon will work. Simply press the spatula around the cake using gentle pressure.
We strongly recommend placing your cake on a rotating cake stand for frosting. This Wilton High and Low Cake Turntable is the one we use and love!
The turntable raises and lowers the cake to a comfortable height, and you’ll be able to turn the cake as you frost. This makes it so much easier to work with the buttercream while applying it to the cake. This rotating cake stand also makes it easier to pipe the buttercream cascade in the next step.
How to Make the Buttercream Cascade Design
The cascading buttercream design of this mermaid cake adds interesting texture and a burst of color. It looks like a brilliant coral reef, complementing the sea and mermaid theme of the cake. We were inspired by Whitney’s fabulous cascading floral cake at Sugar & Sparrow.
While intricate and detailed, it is not a difficult design to create. You really can’t mess this up! There is no specific pattern to follow. Just pick your favorite piping tips, decide on your color scheme, and have fun with it!
In case you need a little help to get started, below we have step by step photos of how we created our cascade.
What You’ll Need:
- Piping Bags
- Small bowls
- About 2 1/2 cups of buttercream-medium consistency
- Wilton piping tips (see pic below)
- Wilton gel colors (see pic below)
See the picture above for the coinciding color we used for each tip along with approximate buttercream amounts we used for each detail.
A few helpful tips for piping the cascade:
● Before you begin, decide on the basic shape of the cascade. Do you want it to be wide or narrow? Curvy or straight border lines? It may be helpful to lightly mark the boundaries of the cascade with light lines using a toothpick.
● Work biggest to smallest: start with the largest piping tip and end with the smallest, that way you can easily fill in with the smaller tips and they won’t be covered by larger details. It also creates some layering.
● Don’t be too deliberate: don’t overthink the placement of the details, the more random the design the better!
Here’s how we created our buttercream cascade!
1. Separate the buttercream into 5 small bowls and use a small amount of icing color on a toothpick to color each bowl of frosting your desired shades. We chose a bright yet soft color palette, you can choose any colors you like!
2. Once your buttercream is colored, put it into piping bags and choose your piping tips. Again, this is totally up to you!
3. On top of the cake, pipe 6 rosettes, 3 pink and 3 purple in a “C”-like pattern.
4. On the side of the cake, pipe 3 large pink rosettes in a diagonal line. The curve of the rosettes on top of the cake should be on the same side as the rosettes on the side of the cake.
5. Spaced out from each other, pipe 4 large purple rosettes.
6. Fill in with the 4B tip in mint green on the top and sides of the cake.
7. Continue to fill in space with tip #199 in creamy peach.
8. Fill in the remaining space with tip #131 in cornflower blue.
How to Make Chocolate Mermaid Tails and Seashells
The finishing details on this cake tie the mermaid theme together. The chocolate mermaid tails and seashells are super easy to make. With a couple of candy molds, candy melts, and edible shimmer spray, you can quickly create these lovely features. The mermaid tails, shells, and chocolate pearls dress up the cascade, adding the perfect final touch.
There are tons of ocean and mermaid candy molds out there to choose from. We ordered this set of mermaid tails and seashells on Amazon. The entire set comes with 4 molds: 2 different sized tails, a set of seashells, and a set of seahorses.
Overall, we were happy with these molds. They are pliable, making it easy to remove the chocolates, and the details of the molds are very good. The seahorses, though very cute, were difficult to remove, so we opted not to use them. But the other molds worked great and for the low price, we would purchase them again. You can take a look at these molds here on Amazon!
What You’ll Need:
● Mermaid Tail and Seashell Candy Molds
● Wilton candy melts
● Edible Shimmer Spray- gold and white pearl
● Microwave-safe bowl
● Measuring cups
● Plastic or piping bag
● Small glass (optional)
To create the shade of the pink mermaid tails we used for this cake, we mixed white candy melts with bright pink candy melts.
We wanted a lighter pink shade, so that’s why we opted to mix in the white melts. We also made white tails for some variety.
To create the light salmon shade of the seashells, we mixed 1⁄4 C of white melts with just two orange melts and two pink melts as seen in the picture.
1. Place the melts in a microwave-safe bowl and follow the melting instructions on the bag.
2. Pour the melted mixture into a plastic or piping bag. To make it easier use a small glass to support the bag while pouring.
3. Snip just the tip off the bag to create a very small opening.
4. Fill the molds with the melted candy melts just shy of full.
5. Gently tap the molds on the counter to release air bubbles and ensure the mixture is filling all the nooks and crannies. For the seashells, it might also help to slightly stretch and squeeze the molds to ensure the tiniest crevices are filled.
6. Let the molds rest until the chocolate has hardened, or pop them in the freezer for about 10 minutes to speed up the process.
7. Peel the molds back from the chocolates and they’re ready to go!!!
8. To add a pearlescent sheen to the mermaid tails and seashells, use some edible shimmer spray.
The spray also highlights the scales and details on the chocolates.
We used gold and white pearl.
We found it works best to spray a food-safe brush and paint the shimmer on that way.
Place the seashells and mermaid tails on the cake to your liking. If the buttercream on the cake has firmed up, use just a little frosting on the chocolates to adhere them to the cake. We also added colored chocolate pearls for a little extra shine.
For more fun with ocean-themed chocolates, take a look at our Ocean-Themed cake