Chocolate cakes lend themselves to a wide variety of decorating options. Because chocolate has such a strong flavour, many decorations also enhance the cake's natural richness. When deciding on decorations for a chocolate cake, take the variety of cake into account. A mild milk-chocolate cake could probably hold up to chocolate frosting and garnishes while a dark, fudgelike cake may only require a sprinkling of cocoa or icing sugar.
Perhaps the best way to make a chocolate cake even more decadent is to use chocolate decorations. Ice the cake with milk, dark or white chocolate frosting, or even a layer of fudgy ganache. Sprinkle the frosted cake with chocolate shavings, crushed chocolate candy bars or cookies. Drizzle chocolate sauce (or simply some melted chocolate) over the top of each slice right before you serve it.
For an elegant (and less rich) approach, dust the top of the cake with a layer of cocoa powder using a fine mesh sieve.
Many types of fruit pair nicely with chocolate, so it's only natural that fruit and fruit-based toppings make excellent decorations for chocolate cake. Some of the classic options include fresh strawberries or raspberries on top of the cake, along with some whipped cream or buttercream frosting. These berries can be dipped in melted chocolate first for a little extra sweetness. Dried coconut is also a delicious topping on chocolate cakes, particularly German chocolate cakes.
Fruit-based glazes can also be poured over chocolate cakes; popular flavours for these glazes include strawberry, raspberry, cherry, orange and apricot. Additionally, you could serve slices of the glazed cake with a spoonful of jam on top to really punch up the fruit flavour.
The flavour profiles of many decorations compliment chocolate without overwhelming it, and because of this they can be a good choice for very rich cakes. For example, buttercream or cream-cheese frosting can be used to ice chocolate cakes because the richness of the icing doesn't clash with the flavour of the cake. In the same vein, dusting icing sugar over the top of an un-iced chocolate cake can dress it up without adding heaviness to it.
Some decorations enhance the flavour of the chocolate. Coffee-flavoured glazes or frostings, for example, are delicious on chocolate cakes because they bring out the rich tones present in the cocoa. Mint-flavoured frostings or candies make the cake taste refreshing and tone down the richness, while cakes garnished with ground chilli peppers, candied ginger or cinnamon have a spicy aftertaste.