A Very Merry Grinchy Cake

grinch cake modeling chocolate“You’re a mean one, Mr. Grinch. You really are a heel!”

What better way to celebrate the warm and fuzzy Christmas feeling than to make a cake of the Grinch?

I know, I know, it’s not exactly a manger scene or jolly ol’ St. Nick, but the Grinch sure is a well-known and beloved part of many a Christmas celebration. So here is my attempt at this nasty- wasty skunk, the green bad banana with a greasy black peel:

  1. Make his Face
    Starting with a styrofoam circle, layer the green modeling chocolate around the circle. Bit by bit, add on the chocolate until it looks like him! If you can get ahold of a plastic stick with a pointed end, that will help you create the “fur” on his face. You can buy a set of cake decorating tools at any crafting store or online retailer.

how to make a grinch cake modeling chocolate

2. Make the Chimney Cake
I made these in advance and froze them. They’re easier to work with when they’re frozen. Stack, cover with frosting, cover with fondant, layer on red fondant rectangles to look like bricks, and then paint the red and the space between so it looks more realistic. I used gel food coloring mixed with clear vanilla extract (you could also use a clear alcohol).

how to make a brick chimney cake fondant 3. That’s it! Just take a cute photo by your tree and serve him up! 🙂

grinch cake chimney christmas lights

grinch cake modeling chocolate close up

What other Christmas characters would you like to see made into a cake?

A Flowerpot Cake with Gum Paste Orchids

I always knew I would end up in Urgent Care because of the Blackhawks; I just always figured it would be cardiac-related. So now, older and wiser, might I suggest: Do not attempt to cake decorate while watching a Stanley Cup Final game.

This particular cake was for a pair of dear colleagues who were retiring from my school. A cake, shaped like a flowerpot, fit both their interests and so I set to work. The first step was to create the gum paste flowers, a task that is time consuming, but pays off big in the end. (Just set up your Netflix and the hours will pass by.) You’ll need to first cut the petals out of gum paste, attach a wire to the back, and drape them across wax paper to let them dry. After they’ve dried (a day or two), you can paint them with food coloring mixed with clear extract. Once they’re painted, gather the petals in an artistic fashion and wrap them with floral tape. Viola!

step by step teal purple gum paste orchids Stick them in some styrofoam to dry:

gum paste orchids dryingattaching gum paste flowers to stickAs these were orchids (well, they were supposed to be orchids. They morphed into something else. 🙂 ), the flowers were supposed to be clumped together at the top of a stick. I had an idea to create a little divot in the top of the stick, and then I would rest the wire in that divot, and it would ensure the flowers wouldn’t slide down the stick. (You can see the divot pictured above. It came at a price.)

It was a good idea in theory, just carried out in a really, really dumb fashion. First of all, I don’t own a saw, and was trying to cut into the wood with a big knife. (Stupid Idea #1.) Then, I was holding the wooden dowel rod between my fingers with one hand while sawing away with the other. (Stupid Idea #2.) Thirdly, I was watching a very important game on TV during which the players were playing like complete doofuses. (Stupid Idea #3.) So as I was yelling something at the TV during the second period, a thought quickly flitted through my brain, like the fleeting glint of sunlight on a butterfly’s wings… “This isn’t safe.” And then a millisecond later, the knife slipped.

To their crIMG_5442edit, the staff at the Urgent Care was very kind and almost completely hid their sighs of resigned exasperation at the patient who enters the building at 9:58pm when they close at 10. The women were so eager to get home (probably wanted to catch the third period), that all three of them were working on me at once. I felt like I was a patient in “Grey’s Anatomy,” except I wasn’t even sick.

The most important piece of information here is addressed to my many friends who were at this party, and who oblige me and read this blog: This contraption was made several days before I made the cake, and in a different place and with different tools. So don’t worry, everything is safe and clean as always. 🙂 gum paste orchids internal cake structure

The last step was the actual cake. I tried a new oreo cake recipe that was pretty yummy! It had oreo frosting, with chunks of oreos inside, which made for bumpy fondant. Luckily, the squares of fondant I placed around the pot to create a “tiled” look also hid some of the bumps. Once the fondant was finished, I topped it off with some more frosting and then crumbled, dry oreos. (To look like dirt.)  IMG_6248gum paste flower 1           

 

gum paste flower 2teal and purple orchid gum paste flowers with cake flowerpotInjury aside, I think it came out fairly well. And I learned something very important about myself: I cannot handle the sight of the inside of my own finger.

Exchanging Paint for Fondant: Picasso’s “Three Musicians” in Cake Form

Well, Picasso, I used to think you were one weird dude. But after piecing together this painting shape by shape, my view of you has changed. I now see that there is beautiful overall balance and symmetry to your composition that I hadn’t really noticed before. For example, take this guy on the left:
Picasso cake man on right
He has a very wide white belly area, along with a white hat. Just weird, right? But as I pieced this together, I realized, hey! That’s just one big white triangle, from the sides of the belly to the tip of his hat. So Pablo, while I won’t deny that I anticipate nightmares involving the guy on the right (see below), your geometric cubist designs have won me over.
picasso cake face 1 close up        picasso cake face 2 close up        picasso cake face 3 close up

Ninth in my series of ten “Art” cakes, and I’ve just about saved the worst for last. Not because of the subject matter or artist, but because of the cake material. Fondant. Ugh. All along, I had planned to use fondant with this cake, and all along, the dread was building up. Mixing each bit of fondant to match the painting’s color exactly…rolling it out and cutting it and adhering the pieces juuuuuust so, and then cutting off the imperfections with the precision usually reserved for brain surgery. I repeat: Ugh.

I’d like to say that I was wrong, but unfortunately, I was not. Except for the bit about brain surgery: I should hope that surgeons watch a little less Netflix than I while performing their dissections.

Sighing, I decided to suck it up and get to work. I began by covering the cake in white fondant, and then put a square of black fondant on top of that.starting picasso cake blank fondantHere’s a fun Vine of the process! (This is my first Vine. I now know that embedded YouTubes do not play for those of you who receive this blog in your emails. Since I’ve never put a Vine in a post before, I don’t know if this will work in an email, either… so if nothing comes up directly below, click on the blog title at the top of the email and you’ll be taken directly to the post, and it should play there!)

The most important tool: an exacto knife. I don’t always use one for cakes, but this cake required very fine slices.picasso three musicians cake exacto knife to cut fondantFor a few portions of the cake, I used a food coloring marker to draw the designs.

picasso cake three musicians Here’s my cake with the print of Picasso’s for comparison. (The painting is on top and the cake’s on bottom. Obviously. 🙂 ) Picasso three musicians painting made with fondant cake If you like art, you may enjoy these other cakes in the series. Eight different artists/paintings with eight different cake mediums.
– Michelangelo’s “Pieta” in modeling chocolate
– da Vinci’s “Self Portrait” in food coloring
– Monet’s “Winter Haystack” in Nerds candy
– Monet’s “Sunset in Venice” in royal icing
– Cezanne’s “Still Life with Apples” in apples
– Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” in buttercream
– Ansel Adams’ “Moon Over Half Dome” in chocolate
– Dalí’s “Meditative Rose” in gum paste

Do you have any other ideas for art you’d like to see recreated in a cake? Leave a comment below!

picasso three musicians cake fondant in frame

“That Rose Looks So Real!” – “No, it’s Surreal.”

How does Salvador Dalí start his day?

With a big bowl of surreal.

I’m sorry, I saw it on the internet and I couldn’t resist.

Ok, back to the cake! This one, called “Meditative Rose,” by Salvador Dalí, is the 8th in my series of Art cakes, each representing both a different art style/era, as well as a different cake medium. Here is my attempt at Surrealism, using gum paste for the rose.

STEP 1: Create Rose
Since this rose was so big, I didn’t use the formal “rose cutter,” which is available at your local crafting store. 🙂 I just cut pieces out of gum paste, softened the edges, and stuck the pieces on.

how to make gum paste rose I used balled up pieces of wax paper in between the petals. Cut out a petal, stick it on, put some wax paper around it while it hardens, repeat.

step by step gum paste roseSTEP 2: Paint background.
Using gel food colors mixed with clear vanilla extract- paint away! These meditative rose painting on cake with food coloring vanilla extractcolors are very tricky and don’t act like real color, so beware. For example- when brown is mixed with the vanilla, its base color becomes green. And black’s is purple. So- mixing these colors together becomes a little tricky. That’s why my version of this painting is much more vivid than Dalí’s- I had trouble softening the colors, especially the blue, and basically just used the blue straight from the tube. My apologies to Dalí! 🙂

Here are some step-by-step photos of the background painting process:

step by step meditative rose dali painting on a cake gum paste rose food coloring Comparison of the two paintings side by side. My little food coloring brushes didn’t allow for long strokes, so the background is pretty choppy compared to his:

IMG_0176

Here’s a super-zoomed-in pic of the bottom of the painting. Like I’ve said before- it’s impossible to add white. So in this case, to make those highlights on the two people, to make the path on the right, and to make the little village in the distance, I just used a sharp tool and scraped off the color. White fondant underneath: viola!

close up of bottom of meditative rose painting on a cakeThe rose really jumps off the page! It reminded me of a Harry Potter photo that comes to life! 🙂     meditative rose painting on a cake with gum paste roseDo you like art? Take a peek at the other art cakes I’ve made here, in timeline order:
Michelangelo’s Pieta, sculpted with modeling chocolate
Leonardo da Vinci’s Self Portrait, painted with food coloring
Monet’s Haystack, Nerds candy
Monet’s Sunset in Venice, royal icing
Cezanne’s Still Life with Apples, apple peels
Van Gogh’s Starry Night, buttercream frosting
Ansel Adams’ Moon and Half Dome, chocolate shavings

meditative rose dali painting on a cake food coloring gum pasteHave other art ideas? Leave them in the comments below!

How to Paint on a Cake: A Short Timelapse Video

Have you ever wanted to see how a cake can be painted to resemble a beautiful Van Gogh?

Well, you’ll have to look elsewhere. This shaky video, filmed with my iPhone hanging with rope off a light fixture, accompanied by a sample of YouTube’s free music that, though inexplicably labeled “If I Had a Chicken,” brings to mind a black-and-white 1910s flick featuring a Vaudevillian duo comically arguing in a dusty saloon…. well, let’s just say this is my first try, and in the future, I shall be purchasing an actual camera and a tripod. Or something.

If you’re interested in seeing some still-photos from the last time I tried this cake, please click here. I promise, it looks nicer and you won’t feel quite the same need to break out your Flapper beads and bust out the Charleston!

I recommend you watch this video, though- you can count the amount of times I hit my head on the light by the amount of times you see the screen shake. 🙂

The (Blackhawks’) Road to the (Stanley) Cup (Cake)

Let me begin with my deepest apologies to all you fine readers who privately roll your eyes whenever you see yet another Blackhawks post. You can rejoice and be glad, for this is the last hockey-related post for many months!*

*Last ANTICIPATED post… mwah ha ha!!

For those of you like me, though- let us revel together and enjoy this Cup-filled summer, waiting in anticipation for the preseason in September.

So, let me present to you my final Blackhawks cake, “The Road to the Cup.” Brought to WGN TV on June 15, 2015. How did it end up on TV? I sent an email asking if I could. They said yes. That is all.

STEP 1: Devise Theme (1 week before)
I used a drawing app on my ipad to sketch out a rough theme. Four mini-scenes, each one representing a stop on the Blackhawks’ “Road” to reaching the final trophy. The first stop was the Nashville series, and had Seabrook scoring the triple-overtime goal at 1:16am. The next scene was Patrick Kane during his “goal celebration” pose, since that’s the series he started to come alive! The third scene was Duncan Keith, or, as he was renamed, DunConn (for the Conn Smythe Award, the playoff MVP). The final scene was Captain Toews as he skated towards the Cup.
IMG_0140STEP 2: Create the Gum Paste/ Modeling Chocolate Characters (1 week before)
For an in-depth explanation of how to create these players, click here.miniature blackhawks hockey players gum paste cake decoratingSTEP 3: Make the Cake (The structure pictured below: 2 days before. The actual cake under that: 1 day before.)
Surely there’s a better way… but I don’t know about it. So I used a bunch of pieces of styrofoam, glued them onto the base, and then pushed rice krispie treats in between the spaces to make a smooth surface. I covered the whole thing with modeling chocolate, leaving four empty places where I would place the mini rinks later. (Again, for a detailed explanation on how I created those poured sugar rinks, click here, same link as above.) Why so much styrofoam? Three reasons: it was lighter, it was faster, and I knew that part wouldn’t be eaten anyways so what did it matter?

step by step blackhawks cake constructionFinally, the day arrived: Monday, June 15. Not only the day of the TV segments, but also the day of Game Six- what *could be* the Stanley Cup Clincher!!!

STEP 4: Take the Cake to Stop #1- The Blackhawks Rally at the Palace Grill on Madison (46 miles away, left at 5:30am and arrived at 7:34am. Rush hour, how I loathe thee… Oh, who am I kidding, I slept in the car, ha! My poor mom or sister drove- I don’t even know which one!)

That reminds me. My family is amazing. They do all this work and then I’m the one that gets to be on TV. These two drove me around all day while I slept in the car. I even fell asleep on a couch in the store as they looked at new couches for my parents’ family room. Trust me, there is a post coming in the near future that will provide photographic evidence of the awesomeness of my family. Until that point, please enjoy this, their television debut: 1422341_10101562218633507_2268947201515790099_nAfter arriving at the Palace Grill, a very kind producer helped us set up the cake right there in the restaurant. WGN news had two reporters on location, and there was tons going on! A face painter, a bouncy house, Blackhawks giveaways, signed memorabilia to purchase, a live band, and more!

I was also able to meet some local legends! Steve Konroyd (former Blackhawk player and current TV co-host of game intermissions and post-game shows), Pat Tomasulo and Ana Belaval (WGN morning news team), Troy Murray (another former Blackhawk player and current color analyst for the broadcasts on WGN radio), and of course, Tommy Hawk, the team mascot! IMG_5715Tommy Hawk seemed to enjoy the cake too! DSCN0078 STEP 5: Get Interviewed on Live Television! (8:50am)
Though short and sweet, I got to say a few words about my cake on the morning news! And my website scrolled across the screen, so… yay!IMG_0147

STEP 6: Eat Breakfast (9:00am)
As Pippin would say, it was “Second Breakfast,” right, guys? After the funtivities were closing up around 9:30, guess who came in?! Many of the players’ dads!

STEP 5: Take Cake to WGN TV Studio (10:30am)
We then drove to the TV studio where a very kind stagehand took the cake inside and promised to put a sign on it so none of the news reporters would eat it. And then it was time for a little relaxing!

STEP 6: Eat Lunch and Go Shopping! (11:00am)

STEP 7: Come Back to TV Studio (3:15pm)
This was my second favorite thing that happened that day (other than, you know, what happened at 10:15pm-ish!!!!). The producer had warned us to put a sign on the cake labeling it, because apparently the staff would eat it otherwise. So we kindly asked the stagehand to put a sign by the cake. With a completely straight face, he said he would take care of it.

We then walked into the studio, he turned the fancy lights on, and OH MY GOODNESS HOW BIG IS THAT SIGN! Keep in mind, that cake is three feet long!

DSCN0108STEP 8: Get the Cake Prepped for Evening News (3:15pm)
It was a pretty easy set-up, but man, am I jealous of all their lights! It was so easy to photograph the cake! Anyone want to set me up with a camera studio at home? Anyone?? While I readied the cake, my mom and sister took photos and the stagehands exchanged the background art for some awesome Hawks stuff.

DSCN0114 DSCN0140 Mom even managed to take a pic of my Kane and Toews figures, with their respective posters in the background! She’s so artsy! 🙂

mini gum paste hockey playersDSCN0134STEP 9: Wait for Interview (3:45pm- 6:10pm)
I was told that my segment would be on at 5:15pm. We waited patiently (Elizabeth organized the Green Room– you’re welcome, WGN–) and then, just at 5:00pm, they announced there was a tornado warning! A tornado was right above Cook County! And so began the weather coverage. Obviously, I knew the segment wouldn’t be on at 5:15, right as the warning expired, but I had hopes that there might be time for it at some point before six o’clock. Unfortunately, though the tornado dissipated, there was still quite a storm over the city, in particular right over all the people waiting outside the United Center to watch the Blackhawks game- and so the station had to keep going with weather coverage. Of course I understand, but it was an unfortunate amount of time and money spent to not get that evening news segment!

STEP 10: Try to Watch Blackhawks Game! (the rest of the night!)
Of course, I did all this since I’m a Hawks fan. So when the 4-6pm news ended, I wasn’t so much sad about the canceled segment, as I was antsy to get out of there so we could find a place to watch the game. So we get in the car, and I’m thinking, hey, we’re traveling out of the city- going the opposite way of everyone else presumably- so we should probably get to, like, Schaumburg, before puck drop at 7:15.

HA!

According to the GPS, we made it 0.6 mile in ONE HOUR! Let me repeat- just over a half mile in an HOUR! (If you want a good laugh, I just googled it- Schaumburg is 30 miles from the studio.) So, cake packed in the trunk and all but forgotten, I start having a spaz attack. It’s now 7ish, and we were still in the car. How could I NOT watch potentially the last game of the year?! We looked around the gridlocked traffic, and what did we spot, but an… Olive Garden.

Perhaps not the normal place to head to watch a Stanley Cup Final Cup-clinching game. But there was no option. After I called from the car to ensure they actually had a bar, we dodged the raindrops and flew inside, backsides in the seats just in the nick of time. The kind management team allowed us to turn the TV sound on. (Whew.)

IMG_0157 STEP 10: Move to an Actual Bar Since Olive Garden Closed
As the second period drew to a close, we readied ourselves, paid the tab, and opened the umbrellas. As soon as the horn sounded, we bounded out to the car and moved along to the next bar. We parked, ran inside, and secured a spot juuuuust as the third period started.

IMG_0156 The rest, as they say, is history. 🙂 It was a splendid evening celebrating with people we didn’t know, but with who we shared one very important passion. And since that day, I’ve created a different treat to recognize that accomplishment: Stanley Cup-cakes. Click here to see more. stanley cup cake hockey melodiaFor more Blackhawks goodies, check out my other cakes/cookies:
– Full-sized dog with giant hockey puck and jersey
– Blackhawks jersey cookies
– More Blackhawks cookies
– Blackhawks logo cake

Are there other hockey treats I haven’t made yet? Please let me know in the comments! I have a long summer to prepare for the next season. 🙂 Oh, and I learned an interesting tidbit today: Next year will be their 88th season. I think that’s a good omen, don’t you?
#Showtime 🙂

Introducing: Vegetarian Ribs

carving a ribs cake step by stepAs a 99% vegetarian person, these are some ribs I can really get behind! It’s not that I have any moral problems with meat- I just don’t like it- but these “ribs,” I have no problems with. Vanilla cake, buttercream, fondant, royal icing, and sprinkles. Yummy!

STEP 1: Carve and cover the cake.
This is SO MUCH EASIER if the cake is frozen. I used a 16″ circle and then cut off the top and bottom parts of the circle. Then I cut some divots for the ribs.

After the cake is carved, cover it with buttercream.

Lay fondant across the cake and carefully press it into the divots and around the base. I used a really light color of fondant, but remember, you can’t put a light color of food coloring on top of a darker color. So if I wanted any “highlights” of this light color, it needed to be the base color.

STEP 2: Make rib bones.
I actually made these a few nights in advance so they were quite hard. Using a mixture of gum paste and fondant, I shaped the bones and put them on a long stick. Lay them out to dry. Flip them over every few hours so both sides dry.

STEP 3: Paint away!!!
This was the super fun part!! Mix up a batch of royal icing, and then color it a few different shades. As you can see here on the left, I began with a reddish brown. Of course, don’t cover it completely- let a little of that light brown show through. I then added some black, and then some grill marks. Finish it off with black sprinkles, and then pour on some red royal icing to simulate barbeque sauce! A feast for all- vegetarians included!

 

bbq ribs cake close upcookie french friesI also made some cookie fries. Very simple- regular cookie dough just cut into strips, with a little brown dust added to the tips. With a little cup of royal icing barbeque sauce, you could just dip your cookie into the icing!  bbq rib bones made out of fondant  bbq ribs cake cut open  bbq ribs cake fondant icing cookie french fries  grill cookies hamburger kabobs royal icingI also brought these cookies to the party. They were designed by SweetAmbs- check it out on facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/SweetAmbsCookies/videos/1072039919490079/?pnref=story

Painting a Stained Glass Cake

food coloring paintbrushes for painting cake Warning! If you attempt this cake, it will take you longer than you think. And whatever you think that means, double it, at least. And if you happen to have an afternoon Easter gathering to get to, well, then, you’re just outta luck.

As I’ve made more and more cakes over the past year, that is honestly one area in which I’ve improved: I can give myself a fairly accurate timetable for how long a cake will take. So I was feeling good on Easter morning, my cake all made and covered in fondant the night before, ready for the vibrant splashes of color from my paintbrushes. I meandered to the kitchen, giving myself four entire hours to paint this, but was almost certain it would take around three. It took five. And I was late for Easter. 😦

And, shhhhh… I didn’t even finish the back, something that caused me, the Ultimate Perfectionist, physical pain and anguish.

It really is quite simple: all you need are the gel food colors, a brush, and some clear vanilla or lemon extract (or any clear alcohol, like vodka!). Put a little food coloring on the plate, mix a little extract so that it becomes the shade you want, and paint away. My steps are photographed below: cover cake in white fondant, sketch design with yellow food coloring, paint in the sections, and outline with black food coloring. Ta-da!

how to paint a stained glass effect on a cakeHere’s what the top looked like! Some of the sections are a bit streaky, but like I said, I was running really late!   stained glass cake with food coloringEaster cake painted stained glass I also tried this neat jello dessert I saw on this blog: http://robbygurlscreations.blogspot.com/2012/04/diy-easter-egg-jello-molds.html

I CAN’T STAND HOW CUTE THEY ARE! Easter egg jello with colorful rainbow layers

A Chocolate Rose? Now THAT I Would Accept!

rose cake popsRecently, a friend asked me to make cake pops in the shape of roses for her “Bachelor” finale party. Always up for a challenge, I readily accepted and began my preparation for the event.

In order to fully immerse myself in the experience, I set the DVR for Monday evenings. I could practically feel the machine looking at me confusedly, thinking, “I’m sorry, WHAT do you want me to record?!” Avoiding its accusing glare, I plunked myself onto the couch and flipped on the program.

It’s not that it’s a bad show, it’s just that, for me, personally, hearing the word “connection” used approximately 27 times in 60 seconds is a little much. I’m certainly not one to judge a person’s tv choices- after all, my DVR is equal parts “Friends,” “Ace of Cakes,” “Jimmy Kimmel,” and “The Voice” (not exactly the most cerebral combination of programming) – but I just couldn’t make it happen.

Luckily, I was familiar with the shape of a rose, even without JP’s helpful weekly examples. Read on below to learn how I created this flowery bunch! (For another example of cake pops- Easter eggs!- click here!)

1. Create Leaves: Use green gum paste to form leaves, laying them across crumpled wax paper in order to let them dry in a more realistic manner.

drying gum paste leaves2. Find a good cake-pop recipe! I tried this one from Bakerella.  (Check out her site– it’s amazing! She’s the cake pop queen!)  This recipe could not have been easier, and tastes so delicious! Of course I needed a red velvet recipe, since I was doing red roses. 🙂

cake pop mix3. Form cake pops into a teardrop shape. This will help create the illusion of a flower bud.

cake pop bases4. Cover cake pops with melted chocolate. I wanted the pops to be really secure for this project, so I dipped the end of the stick into the melted chocolate before I stuck it into the pop. This will help the pop adhere to the stick. Once that has hardened, dunk the entire pop into the melted chocolate. To dry, put the sticks into a piece of styrofoam.    cake pop stick5. Cut out petals. I didn’t have a petal cutter, so I just used my spatula to cut out petals. (The modeling chocolate rolls out easily.) Luckily, with modeling chocolate, any seams or extra bit can just be smoothed out (unlike fondant). Before putting the petal on the flower bud, I pinched the edges to make them very thin. This will give it a more realistic appearance.

cake pop petal

6. Layer petals around flower bud. Use your artistic eye to find a pleasing composition! I found that 2 petals around the chocolate bud, and then two petals around that (going the opposite direction, so as to cover the seams), and then three petals around that, created a pretty rose. To make a bigger rose, keep adding petals!

Rose cake pop tutorial

 7. Add leaves. Carefully twist the wired ends of the leaves around the cake pop stick. Once they’re twisted, and the pointy ends are pushed down, cover with green modeling chocolate.

wire leaves on cake pop

8. Artfully arrange flowers in a vase.

rose cake pops on white

   rose cake pops close up

smell the cake pop
Mmm… smells like chocolate!