Meet Salvador Dalí–Style Chocolate Glaze (It's Easier Than It Looks)

April 17, 2018

Even the shyest pastry chef craves attention. Instead of seeking it directly, some of us hide behind our work. I love the “oohs” and “aahs” that come when people taste a dessert that I’ve made. I also love to hear “wow” and “gorgeous,” especially when followed by: “How the heck do you think she did that?”

Seriously, how the heck did she do that? Photo by James Ransom

Chocolate is such a marvelous medium for invention—it can be shiny or matte, flowing-and-lava-like, plastic and malleable, or brittle and shattering. It begs to be played with.

Everyone loves the marbled spider web pattern on a chocolate glazed cake, or a fondant-covered éclair, but we’ve all see it, and there’s little mystery in how it’s done. My favorite marbling effect is free form and harder to figure out; I call it a Jackson Pollock–type effect. Simply scribble melted white and milk chocolates together and let them drip over chocolate glaze; then, gently drag a fine artists brush (or very thin skewer) every which way through the scribbles and drips before the chocolate or the glaze begins to set. See the top-center example here:

For an even wilder effect, channel Salvador Dalí's The Persistence of Memory (the painting that features a melting clock sliding off a table). This is done by pouring a generous puddle of chocolate glaze in the center of the top of a crumb coated cake (we used this recipe for the photo). Then, quickly drip melted white and milk chocolates over that puddle. Then, lift and tilt the cake so that the glaze flows slowly over the edges, pulling and distorting the drips, until the sides of the cake are covered all around. So much fun! So easy! Such a fabulous effect!

You can use any pourable ganache, or my chocolate butter glaze recipe, which includes the procedure for crumb coating and producing the "Salvador Dalí" effect. Read and envision the whole process carefully before you start. The key to success is getting all your ducks in a row so you can do it without interruption. One huge secret: you can practice the entire routine—and perfect your own method— on the back of a cake pan. Once you have the hang of it, scrape the glaze off the pan(s) and into a bowl (stirring in any white and milk chocolate drizzles) and use it again on a real cake!

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One small secret: You can make your own milk chocolate (as dark or light as you like!) by mixing dark chocolate with white chocolate. Show me your cakes on Instagram by tagging me (@alicemedrich).

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • TM
  • RHo
  • Nicole S. Urdang
    Nicole S. Urdang
  • Alice Medrich
    Alice Medrich
  • gabiporter
My career was sparked by a single bite of a chocolate truffle, made by my Paris landlady in 1972. I returned home to open this country’s first chocolate bakery and dessert shop, Cocolat, and I am often “blamed” for introducing chocolate truffles to America. Today I am the James Beard Foundation and IACP award-winning author of ten cookbooks, teach a chocolate dessert class on, and work with some of the world’s best chocolate companies. In 2018, I won the IACP Award for Best Food-Focused Column (this one!).


TM October 5, 2020
I just made the "Marbled" glaze for the first time. All things considered, it turned out great! That said, I need little more practice with the technique and have to be a bit more patient with the melting of the white and milk chocolates to they flow better and I don't get blobs. But it was a fun process, still looked good (at least to me) and it tasted great! Thank you for the recipe and the video!!
RHo June 29, 2018
This is beautiful! But how is mixing white and dark chocolate together equal “milk chocolate”?
Nicole S. April 22, 2018
Beautiful, creative, and fairly easy.
If you love chocolate, check out Chocolate Ratings with over 400 reviews of mostly dark chocolate from around the globe.
Alice M. April 20, 2018
Dear everyone! Thanks for catching awful typo for Jackson Pollock! Getting it fixed asap.Alice
carleen April 22, 2018
When I lived in Castro Vally in the mid '70s, I would drive to Berkeley (in horrible traffic), just to buy the truffles and incredible genoise cakes at Cocolat
gabiporter April 20, 2018
Jackson Polluck?
Susan April 20, 2018
Cool techniques. One thing - it's Pollock, not Polluck
Jenn April 19, 2018
This is so cool! Thanks for the video.
BakerRB April 18, 2018
Beautiful and interesting. What a wonderful technique.