Paradise Cake

Click HERE to watch the video of this cake!

Ten years ago when I was working in the corporate world, I came across something that made me really start daydreaming about a tropical vacation.  One of my friends had sent out an email with a picture of a hut on stilts in Tahiti, over the most beautiful clear water I had ever seen.  I stared at that picture for the longest time, and I told my husband that it would be great if we could go to a place like that sometime.  Maybe one day that wish will come true.  In the meantime though, I decided to make a cake to look like it.  With every single cake that I have made, there’s always been some sort of learning experience.  Whether it’s just a small thing, or a big, “Oh man, I should’ve done that instead of this,” circumstance, there’s always something to be learned with each cake.  Well, this particular cake had several learning experiences…and luckily this cake was just made for the heck of it, so it didn’t even have a home.  Good thing!

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First thing’s first…the little hut.  I made this several days before making the cake.  The floor and walls are made out of gumpaste, and I used a pattern press to give it the wood texture.  The windows and door frame are individually cut out, and they were laid down to set and harden before putting up together.  The roof is made out of rice krispie treats piled on top of a cake board, then covered with icing and fondant.  The dock is made out of the same material, color and pattern press as the hut.

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Now, on to the accessories…  The bed is one rice krispie treat, covered with icing and fondant.  The surfboard is fondant, the lounge chair is gumpaste.  The towel and beer cooler are made out of fondant.  The wooden boat is made out of fondant, the paddles and ladder made out of gumpaste.  Look at this setup…this really would be paradise.

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The flip flops and sign are made out of fondant…and I figured that sign would be perfect for the atmosphere.  Leave your sandals at the door and grab a drink when you come in…well okay then!

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I colored the icing using 2/3 blue and 1/3 green, to give it that mix of the two colors.  After I iced the cake, piping gel was spread on top to give it that shimmery look for that gorgeous water you see in the tropics.  But, trouble can arise during typhoon season.  I was questioning the sturdiness of hut sitting on stilts when I was putting it together.  The roof was the heaviest part of the structure, and the floor wasn’t strong enough to handle it…

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Oops!!  After the pictures were taken, I had gone upstairs to get them on the computer.  As I was sitting here, I heard a THUD.  Oh crap, what was that?  I thought.  Both of my dogs were up here with me, and I knew that it had to be the cake.  I creeped down the stairs and peeked around the corner…you would’ve thought I was checking for a burglar…and there it was, collapsed.  I started laughing, and grabbed the camera to get pictures of the flop.  As I was taking pictures of it and looking at what had happened, I knew what it was…the floor had shifted its position on top of the skewer sticks holding it up, and it couldn’t handle the weight from the walls and roof…so the floor buckled and that THUD I heard was the roof landing on top of the table.  Oops again.  Next time I try something like this, I’ll wrap a cake board with the textured fondant for a more stable floor, and attach the sticks to use at stilts to the bottom of the floor before inserting it into the cake.  Lesson learned, but in the meantime…EPIC FAIL.  Bahahaha!!  I’m still laughing about it.

Rockin’ and Rollin’ 1950’s Cake

Click HERE to watch the slideshow of this cake!

Back in December, my aunt asked me if I could make a cake for a high school reunion that she was putting together.  It was a 1950’s themed party for the classes of 1965-1970, and I was happy to do it.  At first, the cake was going to be kept simple…a guitar cake on top of a half sheet cake, but plans changed.  As I was doing more research on cakes with this theme, so many ideas kept popping up that were just too cute not to do, and my creatively obsessive mind started to go into overdrive.

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I decided to go with a juke box as the main cake topper.  This was the most detailed part of the cake.  I used rice krispie treats (storebought kind) as the base of the juke box, packed them all together in the shape that I wanted, then covered them with icing and placed the fondant over it.  In all honesty, I’m not really experienced with fondant, so I still struggle with getting it to be perfectly smooth when covering a cake or topper that I make.  The juke box ended up having a lot of imperfections.  When my neighbor came over to exercise with me, I showed it to her and mentioned about how the imperfections along the sides where I couldn’t get the fondant totally smooth (I think it wasn’t a thin enough layer when I put it over the rice krispie treats).  She suggested adding more details, so that’s when I covered it more with the silver.  The fondant is gray, and I painted it with an edible, silver paint to give it more of a shimmery look.  I was happy with the end result, and most of the imperfections were covered up by the other details.  Success!  The records are made out of fondant.  I made those several days beforehand, so they could dry out and become hard instead of soft, making them easier to position on the cake.  The black and white checkered floor is fondant, cut into squares and then placed on the cake.

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I also premade the food.  I called my parents and asked what some popular foods were back then, along with looking at some stuff online.  On this cake, we have popcorn, cheeseburger with french fries, root beer float, strawberry milkshake, and a hot dog.  These were all made out of fondant several days before the cake was put together.

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It can’t be a rockin’ and rollin’ cake without music!  The notes are made out of chocolate.  Yes, chocolate.  Melt some black chocolate wafers and put them in a chocolate mold, let them set in the refrigerator or freezer to harden.  The black lines are made out of fondant that I placed on the cake before pressing the notes into it.

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Mini doll cake!  I made two of these to sit on either side of the cake.  The dress is made out of cake that was baked in a mini doll pan, with the doll cake pick.  I put the icing over the mini cake, covered it in fondant, then put the doll pick on top.  Using a stencil that I printed out from the internet, I cut out the outline of the poodle and attached it to the skirt with icing, and the black leash is icing.

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The end result!  The bottom tier is a vanilla cake with mini chocolate chips and chocolate filling in between the two layers.  The top tier is dark chocolate cake with peanut butter chips and chocolate filling in between the two layers.  The cake was a hit!

Shark Cake

Click HERE to watch the slide show of this cake, with many more pictures! 

This year, my nephew turned 10.  This still baffles me, considering I have the video footage of his 2nd birthday, blowing out the candle and keeps asking his daddy “More, more?” for him to relight it so that he could blow it out again.  Oh, that’ll be a cute video to show when he turns 16.  Anyway, he is probably my biggest fan when it comes to making decorative chocolates.  He thinks it’s SO cool when I tell him that he can eat one of the decorations because it’s chocolate.  Then, when he was looking at my slide shows, I kept getting the question, “Is THAT chocolate too?  Awesome!!”  About a month ago when I took the Nintendo cake over to their house for my brother’s birthday, my sister-in-law asked if I could make my nephew’s birthday cake.  Of course!  So, then I asked him what kind of cake he wanted.  “Chocolate,” he responded, in his “cool” voice.  “Okay, but how do you want it decorated?” I asked.  He responded again, “Chocolate.”  Oh boy, he’s really getting to that “cool” age, which would explain that nonchalant tone.  When he walked away, I asked my sister-in-law what he’s into these days.  She said that he really likes ocean life and wants to be a marine biologist when he grows up.  A gigantic lightbulb went off over my head, and this was it.  So, I started doing some research, and got super excited when I came across cakes that had a giant shark coming out of the top.  Now THAT is something cool that I know he would love!  But, I also had to incorporate those chocolates, since he loves them so much.  Add a little bit of cuteness, without him realizing it, because he’s going to love that shark so much, and will eat the chocolates as soon as I give him the green light.

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So, off I started on the chocolates.  I already had a crab mold, so I made a few of these to start.  I ordered another chocolate mold that had the turtle, seashorse, starfish, shark, and fish from Amazon and made the chocolates a few days ahead.

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Next was the shark, and that’s when disaster hit.  Well, for me it was a disaster.  I originally had it in my head that I wanted to make the shark out of rice krispie treats, so I formed the whole thing out, iced it, then covered it in fondant…and was disgusted with how it turned out.  I was basing the vision in my head on another shark cake, and this looked NOTHING like I wanted it to.  In the picture here, so you can see that the shark has no teeth, but there are little white dots from the icing where I had the teeth attached.  Okay fine, so this shark spent all of his money on plastic surgery to widen his jaw, and didn’t have enough left over to have good dental work, so that would explain the square face and no teeth.  Either way, I went to bed that night totally unhappy with the shark, and since it was the cake topper and main focus of the cake, it had to be redone…and I also dreamed about shark cakes that night.

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The next morning, I looked back at the cake I was going off of, and saw that this lady had carved her shark from a cake baked in a loaf pan.  Bam.  I jumped all over it, so I just made a boxed white cake mix, colored it red (for the blood effect of when my nephew cuts into it and all of the boys yell, “Cooool!!!”) and got that sucker in the oven.  I carved the shape before icing it, but had printed out a picture of the shark cake I liked so much and tried to copy that shape as much as I could.  I made the teeth out of gumpaste ahead of time, and just stuck them on the icing after I got it on there, since it sticks much better to fresh icing.  The dorsal fin was also pre-made out of gumpaste as well, along with the fins.  I just rolled out the gumpaste and cut the shapes that I wanted.

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Those chocolates were SO cute on the cake, and the little background decorations here made out of fondant just emphasized all of the color.  The seaweed, coral, and rocks were all made out of fondant., and I sprinkled graham cracker crumbs around the cake for that added sea bottom effect.

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Finished product!  Although the shark didn’t turn out EXACTLY the way I wanted (because I’m a psychotic perfectionist when it comes to this stuff, with a professional mentality but stuck with an amateur skill level), it would do for now, and I know that my nephew will love it.  I ended up using an oval cake pan, so his dark chocolate cake with mini chocolate chips and chocolate filling is two layers, and the shark cake on top is a white cake colored with red food coloring, for the blood red aspect of it.  I can’t wait to see the look on his face…

Nintendo Super Mario Brothers Cake

CLICK HERE TO WATCH THE SLIDESHOW VIDEO OF THIS CAKE!!!

As a kid, one of my favorite memories with my middle brother was playing Super Mario Brothers on his Nintendo.  He loved that game, and was good at it.  I remember climbing the stairs to his room in elementary school, only to find him sitting on the floor, entranced in the game.  I asked if I could play, and without looking away from the game, he nodded, told me to sit next to him and he would hand me the other controller when he got to another level.  Those were some good times.  So, to this day, anytime I see Super Mario Brothers or that original Nintendo, I think of those memories I have with my brother…and I even set his ring tone to the theme song.  Couldn’t help it.  So, for his birthday this year, I HAD to make this cake for him.

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Let’s start with the Nintendo.  I got a head start on this a couple of days before I made the cake.  The controllers are made out of chocolate, and I used a mold to make these.  I ended up making 4 of them, since it was a little challenging with the shape of the mold and all of the colors.  I wanted some wiggle room in case I messed one up…and very glad I did.  The Nintendo is made out of rice krispie treats, covered with icing and fondant.  I just used the storebought rice krispie treats, and I believe there are 12 1/2 of them in here to get that rectangular shape.  It is completely covered with fondant, and I hand wrote the words with red icing, drawing the black lines with black icing.  The cords are also made out of fondant, attached with icing.  There are two dowel rods in the cake to prevent the Nintendo from sinking into the cake.

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When I was looking at other Nintendo and Super Mario Brothers cakes, I didn’t see one that combined the actual game system itself AND the background decorations of the game…and I wanted both.   So, that’s why the cake is covered in sky blue colored icing, and the background of the game is around the side of the cake.

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I bought the figurines from Amazon, and placed them around the cake in front of the background.

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All of the background cutouts are made out of fondant, and were made ahead of time and stored in an airtight container so they were still somewhat flexible when they were put on the cake.

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Black icing was traced in between the bricks and used to help accent some of the colors a little better to make them stand out.  The cake is a 3 layer 9 inch yellow cake covered with cream cheese icing.  I actually mixed the standard decorator icing with a little bit of the store bought cream cheese icing to make it smoother than the regular cream cheese icing, but also to add a little flavor to the decorator part of the outside.  Overall, this has been one of my favorite cakes!

Polka Dot Cookie Cake

Yay, polka dots!  My sister-in-law actually sent me a link of a cake that was baked with polka dots.  She claimed that her kitchen might blow up if she attempted this, but thought I would be interested.  Heck yeah, I was.  When I clicked on the link and saw that the original idea of this was created with different colors cake balls that were already baked and then put inside the cake to be baked again, I wanted to do something different.  In my chocolate chip cookie cupcakes, I bake an entire chocolate chip cookie inside each cupcake.  Those things are so delicious, that I decided to try it out this way with a cake, but with the polka dot concept.

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First, I took the easy route and bought two of the pre-made sugar cookie packs of cookie dough at the grocery store.  I cut them up into six pieces and let them soften.

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Using an electric mixer, I colored each little batch of cookie dough.

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With a mini cookie scoop, I distributed the cookie dough so that all of the dots are approximately the same size, then put them in the refrigerator to slightly harden before rolling them into balls.

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I made the cake batter, then rolled each little scoop into a ball, and placed it on top of the batter in the pans.  I used 3 10-inch pans.

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The finished product!  I went a little crazy with the colorful sprinkles, simply because I liked all the added color.  For the icing, I went with cream cheese on this particular cake.  No reason other than the fact that I love cream cheese icing, but you can use vanilla with this cake as well.  Bake in oven at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes, or until sides of cake slightly pull away from pan and the top is a light golden brown.

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Look at all of those beautiful colors!  Make sure you don’t over cook the cake, because then the cookies will be a little harder to cut through when serving.

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Ohh, that’s a big chunk.  Yes please, I’ll take that one.

White Cake Recipe:

1 box Duncan Hines cake mix

1 small box instant vanilla pudding mix

1 cup oil

1/2 cup water

4 eggs

8 oz. sour cream

Combine all ingredients and mix well at medium speed for 2-4 minutes.  Spoon into cake pans and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until tops of cake are a light golden brown and slightly pulling away from sides of pan.  Sit pans on cooling rack and cool for 12-15 minutes, then turn out of pans onto cooling racks, cool completely before icing.

Guitar Cake

A good friend of mine is part of a dixie/country band based out of Atlanta, called the VaudeVillains.  A big group of us got together a couple of weeks ago in Augusta and all went out to dinner.  We don’t get to see each other very often, and earlier in the year when I was making a lot of decorated cakes, he asked if I had ever made a guitar cake.  At that time, I hadn’t.

The day before the get-together, it hit me that it would be the perfect time to make the cake.  So, I asked my little secret spy to find out his favorite flavor of cake…chocolate.  Done.  The chocolate cakes I throw together are super moist, rich, and contain lots of little chocolate chips in it.  While looking at other guitar cakes online, I wanted to make something original.  Something that was different than anything else I had seen…  So, I went to look at the pictures of the band’s guitars.  Picked out my friend’s favorite guitar that he plays all the time, zoomed in on it and had it sitting on the counter to try and mimic the same design and color scheme.  It was hard to match the exact colors and design, but it was certainly close enough.  Well, the cake wasn’t enough.  Shocker.  Chocolate decorations seem to make everything that much better, so I made some notes out of dark chocolate and stuck them on the cake board surrounding the cake, and wrote the name of the band on the board with icing.  I ended up taking the cake to the restaurant that we were all meeting at and had them hide it in the back before we all met up.  It was certainly a surprise, and the words “Thank You” were mentioned many times.  I told everyone that the notes were made out of chocolate, turned my head for literally a few seconds, and when I looked back over at the cake, I saw a couple of hands pulling the notes away and stuffing them in their mouths.  So, the notes were the first to go…ALL of them.  Made me chuckle.  I’m actually listening to the guys on the radio right now!  Awesome musicians!

Super Moist Chocolate Cake Recipe:

1 box Duncan Hines dark chocolate fudge cake mix

1 box instant chocolate pudding mix

1 cup oil

1/2 cup water

4 eggs

8 oz. sour cream

1 cup mini chocolate chips

Combine first six ingredients in mixing bowl and beat at medium speed for about 3-4 minutes.  Stir in chocolate chips, pour into greased cake pan and bake at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes.  Cool completely before icing.

Butterfly Fondant Cake

I love this cake.  Even though I didn’t make it, taking a picture of it was a necessity.  Tracy Kirk made this cake.

She used a glass bowl to bake the yellow cake in the oven for the round shape (you can get the same shape using a half ball cake pan).  We took the cake decorating class together at the local technical college, and this was our last class, coming out with a finished fondant cake.  Earlier in the class, we made decorations and flowers using royal icing.  This was her end product.  The entire cake is covered with fondant, the grass is buttercream icing, piped on using a grass tip.  The flowers were pre-made out of royal icing, along with the butterfly wings.  She used a tip number 8 to pipe the buttercream icing on top for the butterfly’s body, then inserted the wings at an angle into the body.  She used flower stamens for the antennas.