Chocolate Mirror Glaze

Leave it to the Japanese to come up with a beautiful and simple alternative to the high-gloss tempered chocolate coating that so many of us envy but doubt we can pull off without an industrial tempering machine. This glaze produces a very satisfying sheen, albeit without the “snap” of a true chocolate glaze. Thanks to reader Paul for submitting his favorite version.

2 teaspoons powdered gelatin
3.5 ounces (1/2 cup minus 1 tablespoon) cold water
3.5 ounces (1/2 cup minus 1 tablespoon) heavy cream
5.25 ounces (3/4 cup) sugar
1.75 ounces (1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon) cocoa powder

Pour half the water into a small dish and stir the gelatin into it. Allow it to sit while you prepare the rest of the ingredients. Combine the remaining water, cream and sugar in a small saucepan and bring it to a simmer. Take the pan off the heat and add the gelatin, stirring until it’s fully dissolved. Whisk in the cocoa until the mixture is smooth.

Strain the glaze into a glass bowl (metal will affect the taste). Allow it to cool for five minutes or so, until it’s right about 80 degrees Fahrenheit, before applying. The pre-made glaze can be stored in the refrigerator and re-melted in a double boiler or in the microwave (a few 5-second bursts on high heat) for later use.

50 thoughts on “Chocolate Mirror Glaze”

  1. Joe,

    Until I make this to find out myself, how thick is this glaze? Will one coat give a nice, dark, shiny glaze or do you need to layer this to get an nice even glaze?

  2. joe, you need more pictures. not a ton, really, but just a couple. even us nerds like pictures 🙂

    question- there’s this cake a pastry chef near me makes, and it’s got a soft shiny chocolate glaze over it. i have NO idea how he does it, but it’s even all over, perfectly shiny, and the consistency of like…fudge that one would pour over ice cream, in the hard-but-soft state it takes when it hits the cold ice cream. does that make sense? anyway, how does one make THAT? is the recipe you posted for this nebulous stuff i’m describing?

    1. Hey Yasmin!

      The site is LOADED with pictures! Just start clicking over in the archives on the left! Ive been traveling lately so I haven’t had the chance to bake much. So, stay tuned! But I think the thing you’re describing is the glaze I’m talking about that. There’ll be plenty of my normal photo tutorials coming over the next several days to demonstrate it.

      More soon!

      – Joe

    1. Hey Marco!

      That amount of water probably won’t make terribly much difference in a recipe of this volume, at least I don’t think. For a thinner glaze I’d suggest varying the amount of gelatin.

      – Joe

      1. I tried this recipe, and the result was beautiful! However, I only used 50g of sugar and it was plenty sweet enough for my taste. Also, I could never get the mixture cooler than 90F – because of the room temperature? I wonder if adding corn syrup with improve the viscosity of the glaze (as RLB does in her lacquer glaze recipe).

        1. Hey Henry!

          Adding corn syrup will do a couple of things: add to the sheen and increase the flow. Personally I think this formula flows well enough and doesn’t really need any more luster. As for the temperature I can’t think of any reason it wouldn’t cool down other than the room temperature. You could try a little refrigeration, but only for a few minutes at a time between stirs so it doesn’t set up prematurely.

          – Joe

  3. Hi Jo!! I wanted to say thank you for this receipe i just used it to cover some chocolate & Baileys cake filled with caramel cheesecake and they look divine!!! Super glossy ….. I loved it!!! Thanks for sharing!

    1. And me a picture, Laura! And you’re entirely welcome. I love to do what I do!

      – Joe

  4. Hi Joe

    For us vegetarians, could you replace the gelatine with agar?

    You rock!

    1. Hey Moo!

      You certainly can…but what about the rest of the pork pie??? 😉

      – Joe

  5. Joe – first of all, love your site. I need an answer – I operate mostly in kitchen enviroment with gelatine in leaves, can you tell me how much leaves of gelatine I should put ? Thx


    1. Hey Frank!

      Thanks very much! 2 teaspoons of powdered gelatin is equivalent to just over 5 sheets of British leaf gelatin…about 5.25 according to my math. Best of luck with the glaze!

      – Joe

        1. Thanks Rochelle, I’m not en expert at powder-to-leaf conversions clearly. Sorry for any inconvenience this caused you, and thanks for checking back in on it!

          – Joe

  6. Hi! How much does this recipe make? Will it completely cover a 9″ layer cake (4 cake layers plus 3 ice cream layers)?

    1. Hey Tiffany!

      This makes a little over two cups which is enough to cover a layer cake (I expect you’re splitting two standard layers, yes?). However you may want to increase it by 50% just to make sure you have enough. Also I should say that you’ll want some sort of crumb coat on the cake to make sure it’s as smooth as it can reasonably be before you put the glaze on. You may know this already, but the glaze is very thin and will show any dimples or holes in the cake quite clearly. Have fun!

      – Joe

  7. Hi joe,
    I saw this guy bessam on facebook use it in many different colors. How can I make it in other colors besides chocolate? Oh & instead of water could you use tonic water? I’m new to cake decorating but have some crazy ideas I can use this recipe for.


    1. Hey Jen!

      I’d imagine you can substitute just about anything for the cocoa powder in this recipe and it’ll work. Indeed you can probably leave it out altogether and just add whatever coloring you wish to it. The cream should make it white and opaque and ready to take any color you’d like to give it!

      Cheers and have fun!

      – Joe

  8. Hi Joe,

    This is a beautiful glaze and it looks wonderful on baked goods. I made way too much though (have enough extra to cover 1.5 cakes!). Can the excess be frozen for future use? I was thinking no because of the gelatin but wanted to double check with you. If not, any suggestions on how I can use it up?


  9. Hello! After reading all posts about this mirror glaze or icing, your article and recipe , my question is, is this the same used by sensation sucree? Adding different colors or cocoa? Also, I do caramel sauce and it is very shiny while hot, but how it can still shiny? Is because I have to add the gelatin? Or is there any other method or recipe?

    1. Hello Gisela!

      Looking at those photos it seems that many of the fruit coatings are something along these lines: gelatin-thickened fruit glaze. Some of the chocolate are probably similar, some may be hard coatings that are just well tempered. Shiny caramel is a bit of a challenge. Perhaps a thin caramel sauce thickened with gelatin would work. I never considered it before, but I can’t see why it wouldn’t.

      Cheers and good luck!

      – Joe

      1. Hi, I found a caramel mirror glaze recipe and want to try it. But I’m not sure what to use under since the instructions are different of what I thought. Can I just cover a cake with buttercream, freeze the cake and then cover it with the glaze? You can take a look of all the recipes and intructions in the following link Thanks!

        1. Sorry for the long wait, Gisela!

          You’re probably answered the question for yourself by now! I try to make it a rule never to freeze buttercream when it’s on a cake, but if it’s jus the crum coat then you can probably get away with it. Hope it all worked for you!

          – Joe

  10. Hey joe! So glad I chanced upon your recipe since the only kind of gelatin I found here in Mumbai is the powdered vegetarian kind. Ok so I have a few questions
    1. If I want a thicker glaze should I use a tad more gelatin? Like 2-3 grams?
    2. Can I pour this over a crumb coat of ganache?
    3. If I want it thicker could I add some chopped chocolate to the mixture BEFORE adding the gelatin?
    4. Does my cake have to be frozen before I pour on the glaze? I’m worried about my cake being dry when cold (it’s an eggless butter cake)
    5. Once the glaze is poured on do we need to put the cake it in the fridge to set? How long will it hold at room temperature? It’s about 35 degrees celcius here!!
    Sorry for the dumb questions! First time baker here!! Thanks!

    1. Hello Veera!

      Sorry for the late reply.

      1. You can add a tad more gelatin to make it firmer, but don’t go nuts since you don’t want it rubbery. Allowing the glaze to cool and thicken on its own is probably the best way to get a thicker consistency.
      2. Yes! Just make sure the ganache is set and firm.
      3. I never thought about adding real chocolate with the cream, but I can’t see why that wouldn’t work. But again, letting the glaze cool down before applying it will make it thicker.
      4. No, however if it’s a butter cake you shouldn’t have a dry mouthfeel problem, certainly not after it warms up again. Still, see above answers.
      5. No. Lower temperature encourage thickening with gelatin of course, but if it’s on the verge of setting when you apply it, it shouldn’t take too long to firm.

      Best of luck and let me know how it goes!


      – Joe

  11. Hi can I pour glaze over a normal cake baked with the normal flour, or is it a special mousse etc?

    1. Hi Audine.

      You can, but make sure there’s a crumb coat of something over the cake itself, because this glaze will show any rough surface underneath!


      – Joe

  12. Love that you respond to everyone – that is truly appreciated and VERY helpful. I noticed a post that you can take out the chocolate all together and add color? So if I made two or three batches and made them all different colors, would I wait until they’re pretty much ready to pour, and just pour them all together and swirl them gently around so they don’t mix completely but swirl – and then pour over the cake, would that give the marbled mirror look?

    1. Hey Karen!

      That’s a wild idea…I like it! But it’s going to take some experimentation on your part I think. And you may want to let the glaze(s) set up a bit more than normal so they don’t just flow into each other. You might want to try pouring them separately as well, just to see what happens. You might try pouring at the same time from different directions, but also pouring one, letting it firm, pouring another, letting it firm, and so on. I’ll be thinking about this all day! Please send pictures if you try it.

      Cheers and best of luck!

      – Joe

  13. Hey joe!!
    Love this page! I tried the recipe took out cocoa added white chocolate and coloring!!
    But my question is whats the best way you hold the funished cake in fridge or counter

    1. Hey Angela!

      You can do either since the glaze doesn’t melt easily. I generally keep it in the fridge, more out of habit than anything!


      – Joe

  14. How long will the glaze stay shinny after poured on the cake . Could you make it the day before it is to be served, and once poured does it need to be kept in the fridge. I’d like to put it on my up commuting wedding cake .

    1. Hi Carolyne!

      It stays shiny for days after you put it on. It doesn’t necessarily need to be refrigerated after application, no. However room temperature should be relatively cool, as with all cakes. Have fun!

      – Joe

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