This Looks Hard; It’s Not


When soups have a garnish of similar consistency but contrasting color, a spider web pattern adds an impressive finishing touch. One good example is black bean soup topped with thinned sour cream.

In “The Art of Presenting Food” (Hearst Books: 1982) author Sallie Y. Williams calls the treatment Decor Mexicain . She shows it as a decorative technique for plain glazed cakes.

The garnish mixture is spooned into a parchment paper cone, then the tip snipped off just enough to let the mixture flow through. Squeezing gently, pipe a spiral over the surface of the soup or top of the cake (Step 1). Try to keep the spacing between the circles as even as possible. However, less than perfect piping still produces an attractive design.


Use a wooden skewer or wood pick to draw six to eight lines from where the spiral begins in the center to the outer edge of the soup bowl (Step 2) or cake top. These lines should be evenly spaced, like the spokes of a wheel.

Working in the opposite direction, from the outer edge to the center, draw an equal number more lines, alternating with those already drawn (Step 3). Again, space them evenly. The result is a web design (Step 4).

If the soup is hot or when working with warm cake glaze, this technique needs to be done quickly. Cold soups will allow more leeway, since the serving time is less crucial.