How to Make Caramelized Cheesecake Shards

How to Make Caramelized Cheesecake Shards

Caramelized Cheesecake Shards are a thing, yes… sort of. Well, I guess I’m the first person doing it, so IF it becomes a “thing” – remember you heard it here first 😉

What are Caramelized Cheesecake Shards?

They are thin discs of cheesecake that have been baked in the oven until they are golden brown around the edges. Think of them as thin cheesecake cookies made from cheesecake batter.

How Did They Originate?

The idea for this creation was a number of factors really.

First of all, I am an artisan baker insisting on using ONLY delicious ingredients as decorations and ZERO FONDANT, buttercream ornaments, modelling chocolate or gum-paste.

Chocolate shavings and nuts make great cake decorations, but you can’t really put them on every single cake.

Doing so makes your menu look a tad monotone eventually, which is why I’m always looking for new, TASTY decoration ideas.


There’s an absolutely delectable muffin I’ve been baking for coffee shops in particular for 5 and a half years now – Pumpkin & Cream Cheese Muffins.

This is not a “new” idea, I mean the basic recipe idea has been around for years, BUT I created my own spin on the cream cheese filling. It’s not just made up of cream cheese, but rather a type of cheesecake mixture – without any eggs.

When these muffins bake, this filling tends to ooze out a bit onto the baking tray below. These blobs obviously get exposed to more heat from the oven and the direct contact with the baking tray makes it cook faster and caramelize.

Over time I even started overfilling these muffins “by accident” so that more filling would bake out and I would have more caramelized cheesecake bits to feast on! SO YUMMY!


The most DELICIOUS cake decorating trend is on the rise! Caramelized cheesecake shards are easy cake decorations to make and taste AMAZING! Click through for the recipe and tips. #cakedecorating #cakedecoratingideas #cakedecoratingtips


After about 4 and a half years of full time baking, I decided I want to make a cake full of the stuff that I LOVE.

This included a proper, soft, moist, super flavourful vanilla cake (recipe in resource library) with my ultimate vanilla frosting, salted caramel, a little bit of chocolate ganache and these caramelized cheesecake bits that I just could not get enough of!

I made the cheesecake mixture as usual, except this time I added a bit of egg to help with the post-baked stability.

I smeared thin circles of it onto a WELL greased baking tray, baked it until deeply golden around the edges and there it was.

I’m now using these caramelized cheesecake shards as flavourful decorations on 3 different cakes in my home bakery.

I’ve even added sprinkles on top of the cheesecake circles before they go in the oven to create fun fetti caramelized cheesecake shards!

Although they are crisp for the first few hours after baking, they will lose that crunch quite soon. I do not see these shards as a “crunch” element in my bakes, but rather a flavour element. It also doesn’t hurt that they look super cool, right? 😉

How to make Caramelized Cheesecake Shards!

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Caramelized Cheesecake Shards
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  • 20 g Egg
  • 120 g Plain, non-aerated Cream Cheese (about 25% fat), COLD
  • ¾ tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 30 g Icing Sugar
  1. Preheat your oven to 180°C/356°F.
  2. Beat the egg and cream cheese together in a medium sized bowl till completely smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat again till smooth.
  3. Beat in the Icing Sugar and vanilla extract till completely combined. Set aside.
  4. Grease a large baking tray SUPER WELL with non-stick spray. Spread identical-ish blobs of the mixture out fairly thinly (about 2mm thickness) and evenly onto the bottom of the tin.
  5. Reduce oven temperature to 175°C/347°F and bake cheesecake mixture for around 30 mins. Keep an eye on it as it can catch and burn quite easily. Rotate the pan halfway through the baking time for more even caramelization.
  6. When the cheesecake shards are half golden brown and half white, they are done baking, remove them from the oven.
  7. Leave them to cool on the tray completely. Slide a knife underneath each disc of caramelized cheesecake to loosen it from the baking tray.
  8. Cut into shards as desired and use to decorate your cakes as desired! It’s so delicious that I even crumble it up between cake layers.


Thanks so much for reading! If you give this recipe a go, tag me @philosophyofyum so that I can see your work.

See you again soon

Aurelia 🙂

Got a question? Something to add? Let’s chat in the comments section down below! (I respond to every single comment)

How to Write on Cake Without Free-Handing

How to Write on Cake Without Free-Handing

How to Write on Cake Without Free-Handing

Writing on Cake without Free-handing is possible and actually quite easy 🙂

I simply HAD to figure this out because no matter how much I practiced, I’ve always SUCKED at free hand piping! As I’ve said before, artisan home baking is my thing, cake decorating is NOT my passion.

My MAIN focus is to make my bakes DELICIOUS, not pretty.

That being said, the motivation behind learning how to write on cakes is actually not to make them “pretty” per se, but rather that it makes a cake more personal. Home Bakeries are founded on being personal!

For some people the whole “neat handwriting and accurate spacing” thing comes naturally. Unfortunately the last time I had a neat handwriting I was 9.

When I tried to write something free hand on a cake I ALWAYS ended up running out of space and needing to squash in those last 3 letters. And on a good day I would win at the spacing, but still have UGLY writing.


To me, artisan home baking is the ULTIMATE approach to baking, but here’s the sad news…


Even if you bake cakes that make people pass out from YUM-overload, you will need to write special and personal messages on cakes at some point. It is absolutely inevitable.

And unfortunately, ugly writing on a cake CAN put a damper on a client’s whole experience of your cake.


So if your handwriting is ATROCIOUS (like mine) and if you SUCK at free handing (like me) – what do you do??

Fret not my friend, there is a solution for writing on cake without free-handing! It’s relatively simple and after trying it a few times, you will rock it. And most importantly your writing will look SUPER professional 😀

This process might take 3 or so attempts before you are comfortable with it (especially with working through my lengthy instructions), but then it’s so quick and easy!

I thought it best to rather explain as thoroughly as possible so that you have a great chance at success from the very first attempt!

I know you can do it – you’ve got this!!

How to Write on cake without free-handing: step by step tutorial #homebaking #chocolatedecorations #cakedecorating #cakedecoratingtips #cakedecoratingideas


Chocolate is the Answer

Since my Ultimate Vanilla Frosting and Ultimate Chocolate Frosting BOTH have quite a high water content, using something like Royal Icing to write on my cakes was not an option. The royal icing (and all other high sugar decorations) melt into the frosting within a few minutes.

I was not about to switch to overly sweet buttercream or flavourless fondant – EVER! So I had to find another ingredient to use.

Chocolate ended up being the perfect “ink” to work with for several reasons:

  • It has a higher fat content which prevents the sugar from melting into my frosting.
  • Chocolate is obviously way more delicious than royal icing!
  • Top Quality Chocolate sets hard (technically it crystallizes), so this enables you to write neatly on a printed template and transfer the words onto the cake.
  • Chocolate comes in a variety of shades! I use white or dark chocolate, depending on the shade of frosting or ganache coating the cake. Using a contrasting colour of chocolate really makes the writing “pop”.

But using chocolate means that there will be tempering involved. BUT, before you panic, just consider that I have a SUPER EASY chocolate tempering method to share with you today!

RELATED: How to Make Gorgeous Chocolate Shavings


Why Does the Chocolate Need to Be Tempered?

  • Un-tempered chocolate melts VERY quickly! If the chocolate starts to melt while you are trying to transfer the words onto the cake it is one huge and panicked MESS.
  • Un-tempered chocolate tends to bloom when it sets. Blooming refers to those weird light spots or streaks you see on chocolate. It looks a bit like mould I guess. Although blooming doesn’t make the chocolate taste bad, it really just looks severely unappetizing. These light spots & streaks are cocoa butter that has separated out of the chocolate.
  • Tempered chocolate sets (technically it crystallizes) nice and hard, making it a breeze to transfer without it ever beginning to melt and stick to the palette knife!
  • Tempered chocolate has a lovely sheen to it which makes it a very beautiful centerpiece for your cake 🙂


How to Temper Chocolate – EASILY

Tempering chocolate was this ridiculously intimidating thing I could never master.

I even went for a short chocolate course and did the whole marble slab thing. Even though I did it more or less correctly in the class, I totally sucked at it back home and I just could not get it to work!


When it comes to tempering chocolate, REMEMBER THIS ONE THING:


That is it.


Struggling to pipe lettering on cakes? You're not alone! Here's a simple trick to help you out. Writing on Cake Without Free-Handing is simple and ideal for "non-decorators"! This step by step tutorial will teach you how to write beautiful messages in ANY font you want. #cakedecorating #cakedecoratingtips #cakedecoratingideas #homebaking #bakingtips


When you overheat chocolate, you break the structure of its crystallization – specifically the structure of the cocoa butter. Successfully tempered chocolate has optimal cocoa butter structure. When you overheat chocolate it basically means it won’t be stable – it will melt easily. It also won’t be shiny, but it will be dull or have blooming. And it won’t have a nice snap.

Click here if you want to read more on the polymorphic structure of chocolate.

The classic tempering with a marble slab allows you to overheat the chocolate and then bring it back to the right temperature on the marble slab with correct technique and experience. But it is difficult to master and super sensitive.

So don’t even go there! Why make life so difficult when it’s not necessary?

It’s far easier to just not overheat the chocolate in the first place and rather maintain the crystal structure it already has. Prevention is better than cure.


The best way to prevent chocolate from overheating comes down to three things:

  1. The container you melt your chocolate in. ALWAYS melt your chocolate in a PLASTIC BOWL. Ceramic, glass or aluminium bowls conduct heat FAR too easily and quickly. They also remain hot for a very long time. This will force up the temperature of your chocolate within 20 seconds – seriously..
    PLASTIC BOWLS are poor heat conductors, so they do not become hot easily and they lose their heat very fast. The plastic bowl basically becomes “invisible” in the chocolate melting process, allowing the chocolate to melt at its own pace.
  2. The type of heat you apply. Although the bain-marie thing (bowl of chocolate over barely simmering water) is quite a standard way to melt chocolate – it’s not ideal. Sorry if I’m being controversial here, but it really isn’t ideal because it overheats the chocolate.
    Firstly because you can’t place a plastic bowl over a bain-marie. It could melt the bowl and as we have established – plastic doesn’t conduct heat very well. Even if the water is barely steaming, it will still be enough to overheat your chocolate.
    Chocolate melts with VERY LITTLE heat. It melts at 30°C/86°F! So the heat you use needs to be super subtle and above all – controllable!
    For this reason I like to use my microwave. I can control exactly how hot things get and stop it abruptly at any point I wish.
  3. How long you apply the heat for. If you apply any source of heat for too long, your chocolate is going to overheat. For this reason it’s best to melt the chocolate with 30 second bursts in the microwave. Dark chocolate can take a bit longer to melt, but BE PATIENT! Stick to 30 second bursts!

    Take it out of the microwave after EVERY 30 second burst, squash and stir it a bit (even when it’s not melting yet) and then return to the micro for the next 30 second burst. I know it’s tempting to put it in there for longer, but don’t do it!

Now that you understand the science and super important basics, let’s move on to the FULL method: Writing on Cake without free-handing, from start to finish.


Writing on Cake Without Free Handing – Step by Step

IF you happened to skip to this part, go back up and read the full post. All the info above was shared with great reason. If you do not understand this whole process, the chances of you failing at this really increase drastically.


Create and Print Your Desired Template

  1. Measure the space you want to fill on top of your cake.
  2. On your computer, in Photoshop or Canva (free program), create a block a bit smaller than the measured size. A little bit smaller is always a good idea here.
  3. Choose a good font. Cursive is better here because the letters are all connected into one item. This means that “Birthday” becomes one item to transfer instead of 8 separate letters to transfer. My favourite font to use is “Dragon is Coming”! I downloaded it for free on – click here.
  4. Type your desired message and print it on ordinary paper.
  5. Cut around your message to make the size of the paper smaller. Stick it onto the bottom of a cake tin base plate with some sticky tape. If the tin’s base has a lip, make sure it faces the bottom so that your top surface is completely smooth and level.
  6. Cut a square of NON-STICK, opaque baking paper/parchment (not wax paper) big enough to cover the writing. You should be able to see the writing through the baking paper. Make sure there are no bumps or kinks in the paper and that it is absolutely clean. Place it over the writing template and secure it in position with a few pieces of sticky tape.

How to write beautiful lettering on cakes - without free-handing! Step by step tutorial


Temper the Chocolate

  1. Chop 50 g of your desired chocolate. There should be no pieces larger than 1 cm x 1 cm. SUPER IMPORTANT: Use TOP quality chocolate!! Commercial chocolate bars like Nestlé and Cadbury contain too much sugar and not enough cocoa butter, so they are always too soft and unstable. Lindt is always a safe bet.
  2. Place the chopped chocolate into a small PLASTIC bowl.
  3. Microwave in 30 second bursts. Dark chocolate can take a bit longer to melt, but BE PATIENT! Stick to one 30 second session at a time! Take it out of the microwave after EVERY 30 seconds, squash and stir it a bit (even when it’s not melting yet) and then return to the micro for the next 30 second burst. I know it’s tempting to put it in there for longer, but don’t do it!
  4. While you wait you can prepare your “piping bag”. Even though I have many piping bags, I prefer using a small, plastic sandwich bag for this (not Ziploc though. It gets in the way). Open it up and place it with one point facing down into a glass or cup. Fold the edges of the plastic bag over the side of the glass.
  5. When the chocolate BEGINS to melt reduce your next microwave session to 20 seconds. And now the next bit is crucial.
  6. THE TRICK TO GOOD TEMPERING IS TO MELT MOST, BUT NOT ALL OF THE CHOCOLATE IN THE MICROWAVE. The bits of melted chocolate may be enough to melt the rest of the chocolate pieces in the bowl, so stir and squash it thoroughly to see if the rest will melt. And keep tabs on the temperature of the chocolate by testing a bit of it on your lip. If it’s the same temperature or cooler you are on the right track. (If the temperature is warmer you have overheated it. Rather start again with new chocolate.)
  7. If the heat of the melted chocolate is not enough to melt the remaining solid pieces, return it to the microwave for 10 seconds at a time. Stir super thoroughly after each 10 seconds to see if the rest of the chocolate melts completely. YOU WANT THE LAST FEW PIECES TO MELT OUTSIDE THE MICROWAVE.
  8. Once everything is melted and smooth, stir the chocolate thoroughly another few times. Test the temperature again – it should be roughly the same temperature (or a little bit cooler) as your lip.
  9. Immediately scrape the melted chocolate into the prepared plastic baggie. Tempered chocolate does set quite quickly so you want to get it in the bag and close to your hand as soon as possible. The warmth from your hand will keep the chocolate melted.


Piping the Chocolate Lettering

  1. Twist the end of the baggie thoroughly (but not all the way up against the chocolate. You don’t want the melted chocolate to be under pressure and burst out when you snip off the end) and secure with a paper clip, clothes pin or anything you want. I mostly just keep the twisted end closed by pinching it in the space between my thumb and index finger while I’m piping (see image below).
  2. Snip off a tiny bit at the end. You can always snip off more. You can test to see how thick your line will be. The ideal line thickness is about 2 mm, but it’s totally up to you.
  3. Whenever you want to stop the flow of chocolate, just lift the tip of the baggie vertically upwards.
  4. Pipe the lettering with the melted chocolate while constantly keeping the side of your hand on the surface for some stability. Slide your hand on the surface as you move along. Do not let your hand hover in the air. I’m left handed, so I need to write the words backwards, starting from the right. If you’re right handed you can start from the left.

writing on cake without free-handing step by step tutorial


Transferring the Chocolate Lettering

  1. The chocolate will have begun to set once you are done piping the words, but allow the chocolate to set fully in the fridge for 5 minutes.
  2. Depending on how well you tempered the chocolate, this next bit could be super easy or a bit more difficult.
  3. The first thing you need to do now is loosen the lettering from the baking paper/parchment. Remove the sticky tape keeping the non-stick baking paper/parchment in place. Slide the parchment with the lettering on it to the edge of your work surface. Starting from the one side, grab the paper firmly on either side with your hands.
    Carefully slide the parchment over the edge, pulling the parchment down with your one hand
    . Go about 1 – 2 inches in. You obviously don’t want to crack the lettering or have it fall on the floor! Rotate the paper 90 degrees and repeat the process. Repeat for remaining two sides as well. Test with your clean and dry palette knife if the lettering is nice and loose on the paper.
  4. In my experience it it’s better to transfer the MIDDLE word first. Guessing the exact middle of your cake is much easier than guessing the top third. The middle is a great reference point.
  5. Carefully slide your clean and dry palette knife under a bit more than the top half of the word, keeping the bottom half unattached (see image below). Carry it over to your cake.
  6. Let the unattached bottom half make contact with the surface of the cake where you desire to place it. Allow it to ease off into position as you gently lift away the palette knife.
  7. Repeat with remaining lettering and then you’re done!!

writing on cake without free-handing step by step tutorial


This process might take around 3 attempts of practice before you are comfortable with it (especially with working through all my instructions), but then it’s so quick and easy!

I thought it best to rather explain as thoroughly as possible so that you have a great chance at success from the very first attempt! I know you can do it – you’ve got this!!

RELATED: How to Make Gorgeous Chocolate Shavings

If you use my method for writing on cake without free-handing, please let me know by tagging me @philosophyofyum because I would love to give you a virtual high ten 😀

Chat soon



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Got a question? Something to add? Let’s chat in the comments section down below! (I respond to every single comment)

How to Bake Perfectly Flat Cake Layers

How to Bake Perfectly Flat Cake Layers

How to Bake Perfectly Flat Cake Layers

I used to think that perfectly flat cake layers are only within the grasp of PRO bakers. When I started out baking, I loved baking cupcakes a whole lot more than baking layered cakes.

The simple reason behind this is that I wanted to avoid all the waste. You know how it goes… We need to trim off that ugly dome off our cake layers to make them level and then I obviously don’t throw the off-cuts away…

I hate wasting, so I eat all of it…

Shameless Aurelia.


As much as I enjoyed stuffing my face with cake, I couldn’t keep this up. Neither could my jeans!

Beyond the desire for perfectly level cake layers, there was another problem. The cake was moist in the center, but quite dry around the edges.

This had to be fixed. Cupcakes bake a lot quicker than large cake layers, so they aren’t in the oven for very long. Large cakes however, obviously need to spend a lot more time in the oven.

By the time the center is cooked, the outer edge has been cooked for the past 25 minutes and is now overcooked.

Level cake layers can be BAKED that way. NO need to trim or waste with this amazing baking hack! Bake level cake layers easily.

Credit is due:

I did some research and found a great  post on the issue of baking level cake! A Cozy Kitchen wrote this amazing post on baking flat cake layers. It was tremendously helpful!

I’ve refined the technique quite a bit though, because as you know I do not believe all cake recipes can be baked the same way. If you don’t know what I mean, take a look at How to Bake Perfect Cupcakes – Advanced Tips.

Please note: This post has affiliate links. This means that if you purchase some of these products I get a tiny commission – but at NO extra cost to you. I’m super proud to recommend these resources to you because they’ve completely transformed my Home Bakery Business!


Before we get started:

So once again there is a basic technique for baking level cake layers (as with baking Perfect Cupakes), but it needs to be adapted according to your recipe. In my experience cake recipes can be divided into 3 different categories (due to how they respond in the oven). This definitely does not include cakes like Angel Food Cake which is a whole different ballgame.

  1. Butter Based Recipes
  2. Oil Based Recipes
  3. Recipes containing fresh fruit/vegetables

Here is a picture of how I divide my oven. You will need this later.

oven for perfect cupcakes

Greasing the tin:

I always line the bottom of my tin with high quality non-stick parchment/baking paper. It makes removing the cake a total breeze! Simply place the base of your cake tin on the paper, trace a circle and cut it out.

Lining the sides of the tin with parchment paper is just too tedious for me. I love using non-stick spray! Feel free to use butter or oil if you desire.


Basic technique for baking flat cake layers:

Adrianna from A Cozy Kitchen uses moist towel strips, fastened around the tin with safety pins. Her hypothesis is that “What’s happening here is that the moisture from towel is helping the cake bake more evenly, resulting in an even rise and a cake with a flat top.”

I think the moisture definitely plays a role, but in my opinion the damp towel keeps the sides of the tin cooler, so that the batter in direct contact with the sides of the tin doesn’t cook so fast. This gives the cake batter around the edge a bigger window of time to rise.

Of course you can also buy Wilton Bake-Even Strips online! They’re like a formal version of this wet-towel-strips-method and save you the drama of cutting up a towel (that your Mother may or may not have given you…)

  1. Measure the height of your tin.
  2. Get a clean, new-ish hand towel. Not a scrap one you used to clean the floor with.
  3. Cut off strips of towel as wide as the height of your tin and long enough to wrap around your tin. It’s totally fine if the towel is going to end up overlapping around the tin. Rather don’t cut off the edges of the towel, this helps keep the strip intact.
  4. Place the towel strips in some water and squeeze them about till they are evenly wet. Wring out the water.
  5. Grease and line your cake tin.
  6. Fasten the wet towel strips around the tin.
  7. Pour in batter, level it out and bake.

My first change was to fasten the towel strips around the tin with paperclips instead of safety pins. It was very difficult to get the towel strips tightly wrapped around the tin. It was even more challenging to make them stay in position with safety pins as these allow room for movement.

The first time was a disaster! The towel kept sagging down on the sides of the tin, but I did see a slight improvement in the levelness of the cake. Second time around I used paperclips and I’ve never looked back.


Adapting the technique:

Butter based recipes:

Butter based cake recipes respond extremely well to this technique! Be sure to squeeze and wring out your towel strips as well as you possibly can. If they are too wet, the sides of your cakes can even rise higher than the middle! Be sure to level out your batter with a spatula before baking. There is no need to spread the batter higher up the sides or anything.

  • Bake the cake on oven rack A at 180˚C
  • Gently rotate your pans halfway through baking.


Oil based recipes:

The wetter, the better for this category. Lightly squeeze the towel strips so that they are just past dripping point. Grease and line the tin as usual and pour in your batter.

Swirl the pan around slowly so that the batter coats about 1 cm of the tin’s edge above the batter’s normal resting level.

Shake the pan a little bit so that the main batter returns to its neutral resting level. Do this just before you place the cakes in the oven.

  • To bake the cake, preheat your oven to 170˚C.
  • Place a clean, empty roasting tray on rack A.
  • Place your cake tins on rack B.
  • Pour about 1/2 cup water in the bottom of the oven.
  • Bake for about 10 minutes.
  • Rotate the pans and pour ½ cup water in the bottom of the oven. Continue to bake on rack B for a further 20 minutes.
  • Remove the roasting tray on rack A and move your cakes from rack B to rack A. Rotate your cakes again at this point as well.
  • Continue to bake until done.


Recipes containing Fresh Fruit/Vegetables:

Curiously these batters respond somewhere in between the butter and oil categories. The fresh fruit/vegetables naturally release a lot of moisture as they bake as well which helps in the level cake baking process.

Still, it does help to have a towel strips very wet (squeezed out just past dripping point) for this category as well.

Grease and line the tin as usual and fasten the wet towel strips around your tins. Pour in the cake batter. Swirl the pan around slowly so that the batter coats about 1 cm of the tin’s edge above the batter’s normal resting level.

Shake the pan a little bit so that the main batter returns to its neutral resting level. Do this just before you place the cakes in the oven.

  • To bake the cake, preheat your oven to 170˚C.
  • Place your cake tins on rack A.
  • Continue to bake on rack A until done, rotating the pans every 15 minutes.

level cake layers

Final Notes:

When baking 7 inch cakes and smaller, I’ve found that a hand towel’s absorption powers are too great. For small cakes I use DISH towel strips instead – they work perfectly! OR if you bake different sized cakes, it’s really worth it to get the Wilton Bake Even Strips Set for 6 inch, 8 inch, 10 inch and 12 inch tins.

Although this hack is the most amazing game changer in baking a level cake, you’ll still need to trim off tiny bits here and there – but it’ll be minimal. Oil based cakes especially still rise with a slight dome, but they are about 80% more level than before!

And you also won’t need to trim the sides of your cake ever again. The wet towel strips ensure the oven stays moist and keeps the edges from baking too quickly. Your level cake layers will have a beautifully moist crumb from edge to center 🙂 Yay!

This technique has changed my life! Give it a try and let me know what your results are.

Chat soon!

Aurelia 🙂

Got a question? Something to add? Let’s chat in the comments section down below! (I respond to every single comment)