Snowy Chocolate Cake Cottages

These cottages are really cute and so wintery and they're also a little festive with the wreaths and Christmas trees. 
These were a bit of a labour of love to make, they took a while especially the piping but I was really happy with the result. The first stage was to make a dense chocolate cake. The recipe specified a 6 inch square tin which I don't have so I used some foil backed parchement and tried to reduce the size of an 8 inch tin as you can see above...and it actually worked quite well. If you wanted to make something similar you could use any dense chocolate cake recipe.
Once baked and cooled the cake when in the fridge overnight to firm up so it was suitable for carving. The 6 inch tin produces four cottages.
I carved two types of roof on my cake for a bit of variation. This is also useful if you have different flavour cakes so you can tell which one is which. Another potential cake recipe for the cakes was spiced ginger cake.
Once the cottages were carved they were covered in marzipan to create a smooth base. A lovely chocolate ganache was then poured and spread over the top with a small cranked palette knife.
Warning, the next part will give you hand cramps! This was quite fine piping and I used royal icing in a piping bag with a 1.5 nozzle. I also used an angled turntable to pipe on the sides more easily. First up the roof tiles were piped and some were given extra icing to show a build up of snow. It doesn't matter if they're not perfect as the whole thing gets a dusting of icing sugar on top. Also add some icicles as a finishing touch.
Once the roof was complete it was on to the doors and windows. The snowmen were created by pressure piping a small circle for the head and a slightly larger circle beneath for the body.
Finally, some of the white icing was mixed up to create green, red and yellow for the wreaths, window decorations, Christmas trees and snowmen. The Christmas trees are 3D as the first layer was piped on by zig zagging from side to side with the lines gettting progressively longer to create the shape. When this was dry a slightly smaller zig zag was piped on top and then a final third layer. A star and Christmas decorations were then added to finish the trees off.
Lastly, royal icing was spread over the boards around the cottages and a ribbon added. I think these could even make cute Christmas presents next year! The idea is from the most recent Squires magazine and is by Ayako Saida.