I made the decorations out of sugar paste: river rocks, orchids, and some looped leaves.
Each tier had 4 layers of white cake, filled with French vanilla buttercream and mini ghirardelli chocolate chips. Then the tiers were frosted with white chocolate ganache, and covered in homemade vanilla fondant.
Homemade Sugar Paste
4 Large Egg Whites
2 lb. bag 10x powdered sugar
1/4 cup tylose powder
4 Teaspoons shortening
1. Place the egg whites in a Kitchen Aid mixer bowl, fitted with the flat paddle.
2. Turn the mixer on high speed for 10 seconds to break up the egg whites.
3. Reserve 1 cup of the powdered sugar and set aside.
4. Turn the mixer to the lowest speed, slowly add the remaining sugar. This will make a soft consistency royal icing.
5. Turn up the speed to setting 3 or 4 for about two minutes.
During this time measure off the Tylose into a small container.
6. Make sure the mixture is at the soft-peak stage. It should look shiny, like meringue and the peaks fall over. (If coloring the entire batch, add the paste color at this stage, making it a shade darker than the desired color.)
7. Turn the mixer to the slow setting and sprinkle the Tylose in over a 5 second time period. Next, turn the speed up to the high setting for a few seconds. (This will thicken the mixture.)
8. Scrape the mixture out of the bowl onto a work surface that has been sprinkled with some of the reserved 1 cup of powdered sugar. Place the shortening on your hands and knead the paste, adding enough of the reserved powdered sugar to form a soft but not sticky dough. You can check by pinching with your fingers and they should come away clean. Place the finished paste in a
zip-top bag, then place the bagged paste in a second bag and seal well.
9. Place in the refrigerator for 24 hours if possible before using to mature the paste.
10. Before use, remove from refrigerator and allow the paste to come to room temperature. Take a small amount of shortening on the end of your finger and knead this into the paste. If you are coloring the paste, add the paste color at this stage.
11. Always store the paste in the zip-top bags and return to the refrigerator when you are not using the paste. Will keep under refrigeration for approximately 6 months. You can keep the paste longer by freezing. Be sure to use zip-top freezer bags. If you will be freezing a batch of paste, allow it to mature for 24 hours in the refrigerator first before placing into the freezer. The paste can be kept in the freezer for several years with no problems.