Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Inside Out Movie Cake / Disney Pixar Surprise Inside

I've been SO excited to share this technique with you guys for such a long time!!! I was waiting. And waiting. Thought I'd save it for a book.

But the cat is out of the bag now. Someone else figured it out recently on their own and shared it on Facebook and youtube. So my big reveal is now just eh. Hopefully you'll still find the tucking of tiny polka dots in your cakes as fun as I do!

When I learned that Disney Pixar was making a movie called, "Inside Out," the title alone made me sure that I HAD to design a surprise inside cake around it. And then I learned there were polka dots in the movie! Memory Orbs. Absolutely perfect for this method!

Here are some earlier mini polka dots.
A surprise inside polka dot pumpkin cake.

And this fun confetti colored polka dot naked birthday cake.

But we're here to talk about how you can make your own Surprise Inside "Inside Out" polka dot cake. So let's get started!!!

This method is different from my original Surprise Inside Polka Dot Cake in that it will produce the same size dots in every slice. And you don't need a special cake pop pan. Just some piping bags and you're set to go!

I usually begin with white cupcakes for the crumbs so that the colors will stay true. I use two cookie sheets on the rack above to deflect some of the heat. This way the tops don't brown.

Twenty four cupcakes from one Duncan Hines cake mix all baked and ready to rumble. Er, crumble.

Perfectly baked and yummy looking but no tasting of these beauties just yet.

I always try to use white paper liners when making cupcakes for crumbs. Any slight browning that occurs mostly sticks to the paper so you end up with whiter crumbs.

The bowl in the front has crumbs from the same brand of cake mix baked in a jelly roll pan with parchment and cookie sheets above during baking. So much browner than the cupcake crumbs in the rear bowl. Which is fine if you're making dark colors. But I only used the white ones here.

The white crumbs from one baked Duncan Hines mix were divided evenly (about 1 1/8 cups per bowl) between five bowls. Then about 1/2 cup of batter from a second double batch of white cake mix was added to each bowl.

Once the crumbs and batter were well mixed, each bowl was tinted with Americolor gel color to coordinate with the Sixlets colors. I choose these candies for their bright and shiny finish, wide color assortment, perfect size and taste. They're chocolate. And delicious. Plus they are so tiny and cute that they couldn't possibly contain more than 3 calories each. I hope.

You can buy them in bulk by the color at some candy shops. I found mine at the local party supply but they don't seem to offer them online. Probably 'cuz they're chocolate. You can also buy them here.

I used a number 12 round piping tip from Wilton. But I only had one so I measured 1" from the point of the the remaining bags and cut them to match the size of opening of the tip.

Five fun filled piping bags filled with the crumb/batter mixture to match the Sixlets candies! BTW, these chip clips work WONDERFULLY for sealing up your piping bags. Just give the bag a twist after filling and snap in place. SO much easier to remove than a twist tie or rubber band when you need to refill or clean up. Thanks to Georganne of LilaLoa for this great idea!

These were the templates I designed a couple of years ago and edited for this project. I only ended up loosely following them in the end.  I didn't have room for the last two rings in the center so maybe next time I'd start with a smaller piping tip. Or not. Six rows of dots in each slice was plenty.

I used ten somewhat straight sided aluminum foil pans at about .25 each to avoid waiting for each pan to bake. I don't own that many real pans of the same size. But you can substitute real ones if you'd like. The price tag said they were 7 inches but they only measured 5 1/2 inches at the bottom so be sure to measure before you plan out your cake. Spray each pan with Baker's Joy or grease and flour.

Add 3 Tablespoons of batter to each pan and tilt and rotate pan to distribute evenly. The batter barely covers the pan but that's what you want.

Starting at the outside edge of the pan, pipe six rows of the crumb/batter mixture on top of the batter, alternating colors for each ring. Repeat for the remaining nine pans. Be sure to switch up the order of the colors. 

Here's the order I used but you can mix it up any old way you'd like:
Ring One: Red, Purple, Green, Blue, Yellow, Red. 
Ring Two: Purple, Green, Blue, Yellow, Red, Purple. 
Ring Three: Green, Blue, Yellow, Red, Purple, Green.
Ring Four: Blue, Yellow, Red, Purple, Green, Blue.
Ring Five: Yellow, Red, Purple, Green, Blue, Yellow.
Repeat Rings 1-5 for the second set of five pans.

I misjudged the number of rings since I thought the pans measured at least 6 inches across to match the templates. Silly girl with no tape measure! I also ran out of certain colors toward the end so I just piped what I had without following the 5th ring order for the last two pans. No biggie. The colors in the movie are supposed to be random anyways but I was attempting to distribute the colors evenly so as not to run out. And I almost made it!

Here's a shot of the first five pans. There was a second set of five pans for 10 total layers. Sounds like a lot but they were very thin layers. Plus I wanted a tall barrel type cake to imitate the towers.

Once the ten pans were filled with the piped rings, I added 3 more tablespoons of white batter.

Then I used a silicone brush dipped in water to gently smooth the batter over the rings.

Little foil tags marked the pans indicating which template was in which pan. This helped later when stacking the layers.

Here's a layer all baked. You can still see the ring colors so the labels probably weren't all that necessary but I wasn't sure about that part when I started this little project. And looking at the tag numbers was much easier than matching the layers to the templates during assembly.

I wanted all of the layers to be level without having to trim each one and risk cutting off those precious dots. So I used the damp paper towel method for flattening. Once you try it, you'll be hooked and may never trim a cake layer again.

The paper towel edges were folded over and then the layers were stacked with a couple of bowls to help flatten them as they cooled. Which took no time at all since they were so thin.

Again, the rings are plainly visible so you don't really need the foil labels but I threw them in the bags just in case. This size fit perfectly in a quart Ziploc storage bag. Plastic wrap would also work but I just wash and reuse the bags for other baking projects.

The layers were laid in single layers inside quarter sheet pans and then stacked in the freezer before the crumb coat.

And then it was time for the buttercream. You can see how light it started out. I almost always get my shades too dark so this time I was extra careful and played it safe on the lighter side.

Once the layers were frozen, they were stacked starting with template 5 at the bottom. Then 4, 3, 2, 1 and then the second set of five layers on top using the same order.

The first crumb coat before they were off to the freezer to firm up again.

Then the final top coat and back to the freezer. See how dark the purple buttercream turned out? An even layer thick enough to hold the Sixlets is all you need since there's already a good amount of icing between those ten layers. And you don't need to get all crazy with the smoothing on the sides since they'll be completely covered in chocolate.  Oh! Doesn't that sound nice? I want to be completely covered in chocolate too! Sorry. Squirrel. Just make sure you have nice level sides and a smooth flat top.

I started with about a cup of each of Sixlets candies for four of the colors and twice as much of the yellow since JOY was prominent in the movie. I only ended up using about a half a cup of each of the four colors and one cup of yellow when it was complete. Snacks!!!

UPDATE: Although placing the candies on the exterior was somewhat relaxing, this airbrush/vacuum tool from SugarVeil would've made this part go MUCH faster.

The shelves between each row of Sixlets were made of wafer paper. It's inexpensive and lightweight but you may want to tell your guest to peel it off before eating. It's not great tasting but rather tasteless. I added a drop or two of oil based candy flavor during the coloring process but the texture is well, like eating paper. Kids might love this part but adults . . . not so much.

I cut two arcs for each shelf and then placed them as I went. The ends were overlapped slightly for a continuous band. I also used four straight strips (not shown) to duplicate the vertical lines shown in the movie. Just slide the arcs between the rows and the buttercream will anchor them in place. My cake used eighteen shelves x2 per shelf or 36 arcs.

The arcs and strips were colored with oil based candy color and a brush. I dabbed off so the excess color so that it wouldn't stain those lovely shiny candies.

Here's a shot of the rows before I added the 4 vertical strips. 
(And before I froze it. Try to avoid this. Read on . . . )

The topper for the cake was a hand cut black fondant silhouette with chocolate lettering inspired by one of the movie's teasers. Really easy to do. And you never want to expose yourself to my attempts at modeling figures! I truly can't afford the therapy costs involved for all parties. Myself included.

Do you hear voices? I've never been properly introduced to all of mine but they're in there. The purple disk behind the silhouette is chocolate so that the topper could be removed easily before slicing.

Here's the cake with the vertical strips in place. They were just tucked under the top and bottom shelves once the cake was complete.

And then it was time to cut it open and see how many Sixlets would fly across the floor. I almost always try to slice my cakes when they're frozen or very chilled but once you add the Sixlets and wafer paper, putting the decorated cake in the freezer is a big no-no. The coating on the candies will dull slightly and get watery as the cake thaws. Not a great look. This cake WAS frozen after decorating. My mistake. So you don't have to make the same one. I know, I know. Do as I say. Not as I do.

The four previous photos show the cake after freezing and thawing. Although the pictures don't show it well, those little candies got quite moist and could no longer be touched without smudging.  Good news is that the wafer paper stayed in place and didn't warp. There was an excellent chance of that since wafer paper shrivels and shrinks when it comes in direct contact with any moisture (and buttercream) but it held up well for whatever reason.

Here's the sliced cake! Tah-daaaa!!! It's really just half a slice or 5 of the ten layers. That kind of slice would require an entire platter. And a turkey fork.

From inside your head to inside your cake to inside your jeans in a matter of hours! Unless you don't have a slice. Dare you. Double dare you.  

One of those little voices is surely saying, "Go on, have a bite." And the other, "DON'T. DO. IT." Which one will prevail?

I was only kidding about the Sixlets flying over the kitchen during cutting. But they did. EVERYWHERE. Perhaps cutting over a tray with a lip would help. Or leave the outside plain for even more contrast and surprise. Just throw a few candies on the plate during serving.

The wafer paper doesn't slice so easily. I'd like to say that the cake sliced nicely when using a hot knife. It didn't. Maybe remove the wafer paper before cutting.

Since the cake is too tall (7 inches! and about 6 1/2" across with the candies) for one lengthwise slice to be a serving, use a second cake round between the sets of five layers. I like the plastic corrugated kind that hold up better than cardboard. Especially in a cake this moist. I didn't use any straws or any other type of supports and the cake held up just fine.

The white cake between the dots almost disappears which is the look I was after. Yay! And finally, the cake stayed really moist with all the frosting!

Stuff you need for this: 

The colors I used were Americolor Super Red, Regal Purple, Electric Green, Royal Blue and Lemon Yellow.

I used a total of 3 Duncan Hines white cake mixes and the ingredients called for on the box along with a double batch of buttercream. There was some batter and frosting left over.

Sixlets: about 1/2 cup of four colors and 1 cup yellow for a total of about 1 1/2 pounds.

Wafer paper is available online. I used 3 or 4 of the large sheets. You'll also need candy color and an edible marker for tracing your template as well as scissors and a ruler.

Some of you have commented that this looks like tons of work but I broke it up into steps so it didn't seem like it took that long. Wish I would've kept track. I you just don't have the time (or patience like me) you can short cut this by adding cereal for your polka dots and exterior decor. The dots won't be as uniform but it's surely quicker. You can see my post and the results of two different kinds of round cereal balls here.

Or you can substitute the piped rings method shown in this post but eliminate the second bake time by using ice cream for REALLY fast version here

There's even a bonus mini tutorial for cute little ice cream cakes with cereal. The options are many my friends!

Thanks for stopping by!


Monday, July 13, 2015

Surprise Inside Picnic Ant with Checkered Tablecloth

Just in time for summer . . . 

Surprise inside picnic cake complete with ants and a checkerboard tablecloth! Edible candy melt grass blades (delicious, by the way) on snow white textured buttercream. Non edible basket and bug decorations.

Surprise Inside Unicorn

Thought you might want to see this magical surprise inside unicorn cake. The exterior is covered in a rainbow of sugary pastel pearls with a hint at what's waiting inside. The unicorn shape on the outside is coated in sparkly edible glitter flakes. Add a spiral shaped lollipop to the set up and you're ready to party!

CookieCon 2014

This was/is my post from last year's CookieCon. Which for what ever reason never got posted. Bad blogger! I also took photos all of the cookies entered in the Sugar Show but wanted to match them up with the bakers once the show was over and the cookie creators were finally revealed. Also never happened. Julia Usher of Cookie Connection was so much better at identifying some of the creators in her blog posts.  If you'd like to learn  a little more about the event, check here and here. You can also search "CookieCon 2014" once you're there to see her daily posts of the convention and check out TONS of other cookie related fun! The following is what I jotted down at the time . . .

Day Two of CookieCon 2014. Overload. And we haven't even nibbled on a cookie! The cookies are all for display only so if you're watching the calories, this just might be the place for you. Lots of classes to attend and crumbs of wisdom to be absorbed from these talented cookiers!

Last night my favorite kitchen store honored the attendees with a special shopping experience by opening their doors from 8-10 pm just for us. Although they also have a vendor booth at the event, you really have to step inside their store to get the full experience. My first thought the very first time I visited was, "Honey, I'm home!!!" It was like Christmas. Full on shopping frenzy with every cart taken and check out lines stretching down the isles. Which was kind of nice. Another chance to meet new cookie friends while waiting. There was a beautiful crepes station and a lemonade bar to mix up your favorite beverage along with other thoughtful touches, discounts and raffle prizes. They got to my piggy bank once again with some brand new cookie cutters from Meri, Meri. Had to have them. Thanks Orson Gygi!

Upon leaving the store, we found a long line of SUVs parked outside waiting to take the weary shoppers back to the hotel. Kind of looked like prom night. Without the frocks. Perhaps they should change the event name to "CookieProm" for next year.

I really wasn't going to enter any cookies into the Sugar Show. These ladies take cookie decorating VERY SERIOUSLY. And my piping skills simply stink. I decided to play along and was somewhat satisfied with my cookies. Until I got there. And had to place them side-by-side with some breathtakingly beautiful creations. Never trust your judgment at 2 AM. Kind of like the girls get prettier at closing time when your eyes start to glaze over.

One can only imagine the many, many hours spent on some of these stunners. For now, here are the shameful results of my efforts . . .

This was supposed to be rustic looking with "burlap" flowers. Oh well. The mini flowers are made from wafer paper.

This was the first cookie and ended which sounded like such a good idea at the time. The mini frog didn't really show up when displayed since other cookies are stacked in front. I still heart him. He has little froggy bumps on his back from sanding sugar. One kiss and I'm certain he turns into a prince. And as far as fairy tales go, the show also had a "Once Upon a Time" category. Which should be right up my alley. Not.

This entry started off with a plan to be elegant with eggplant and deep chocolate brown. I even bought a book that looked old to display them on. The rainbow colors won out like they do everytime with me. I just can't resist those happy vibrant colors!

And back to 2015 - Julia is looking for a corespondent to record this year's events. You can apply here if you're interested. I'd have loved the job but she would be no doubt completely unimpressed with my journaling skills. Hope to see you there!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Patriotic Flag of Chocolate Stars

Happy 4th to all of you! Are you seeing stars yet? It's almost that time!!!

Just sent this yummy treat to work with my hubby. And he just emailed me to say that it's gone even with half of the office out on vacation. Guess they were HUNGRY!!!

White almond cake with vanilla almond buttercream and completely covered in chocolate stars. Love the clean look of this and it was SO easy!

I simply melted blue, red and white Candy Melts in the microwave, each in a separate Ziploc quart freezer bag. I snipped off a corner and filled a star candy mold (eight 1 3/4" star cavities from CK Products), tapped in on the counter to level and remove bubbles and placed it in the freezer for a couple of minutes. Then I popped them out and repeated the above a few times. That was the most time consuming part but certainly not complicated or difficult. The stars can be made well in advance and just popped into the buttercream when you're ready.

The two cake layers can also be baked in advance and frozen which makes decorating so very much easier!

This was originally going to be a surprise inside cake but I decided to keep it simple. I think the beauty of this exterior would be lost with too many things going on. So now I just need to redesign the exterior of my surprise inside cake and I'll have two festive cakes!

Keep your holiday simple and enjoy every minute!

Friday, February 20, 2015

Surprise Inside Cake - Hidden Road

Easy. Cake mixes. Canned frosting. Candy Melts & molds. Chocolate rocks and stickers. You can do this!!!

The little hard hat and truck are made from Candy Melts and edible images. The truck was actually my inspiration for the whole project. Once I saw it the wheels really started turning. In my head of course. That particular chocolate truck wasn't going anywhere but in my tummy.

The barricade, vest, shovel and sign are stickers that I happened to have for just such an occasion. Edible versions would've been fun also but what a time saver they ended up being.

The hat was molded from a chocolate mold but I had no pickup truck. Woe was me. I always peek at the seasonal isle of the grocery store and that fateful day, I happened upon a chocolate colored pickup for Valentine's Day by RM Palmer Candy. I thought about using green luster dust to get the company color but then I noticed that the package used to protect the truck from moving around might actually be used as a mold. The plastic used to make it was thinner but it proved to be sturdy enough to mold the two trucks I needed. With careful handling, you could use reuse this mold at least several times. And who doesn't love a mold filled with FREE delicious chocolate for about a dollar? Check them out the next time you find yourself in the holiday isle.

If you can't find a pickup mold, there are lots of cute construction equipment molds that might suit your theme. Adorable for a child's party.

Even with all of the inspiration that the truck offered, I still had to find a way to hide the road inside. Ever wonder why simple ideas don't occur to you earlier? It was just never a problem that I needed to solve until that day but the solution was SOooo easy!

The sides and ends of the cake were covered in the leftover crumbs from the cake trimming. Just give them a few pulses in a food processor and they magically turn into delicious chocolate asphalt!

The rocks are Silver Nugget Choco Rocks. I purchased them at my local party supply store but you can also find them online here.

Let's get this construction project underway shall we?

You'll need some equipment:

2 large loaf pans (to hold one cake mix each)
4 baking nails
Large insulated shiny cookie sheet (optional)
Baking strips (optional)
Food processor or similar
Chocolate molds of choice (optional)
Rolling pin with 1/8" spacing bands or 1/8" dowels
Exacto knife or similar

And some ingredients:
2 Devil's Food cake mixes plus ingredients on box
12 oz package Nestle mini chocolate chips
1 T vanilla
Americolor black gel coloring
1/2 c Hershey's Dark Chocolate syrup OR simple syrup, divided

Frosting & Decorations
2 cans chocolate frosting + 6 T powdered sugar
OR homemade frosting
Candy Melts for modeling chocolate and optional molds
Corn syrup
Oil based candy color for optional molds if needed
Chocolate candy rocks

One day in advance:
Make a small batch of white and black modeling chocolate. You can find the recipe here by my friend and modeling chocolate expert, Jessica Harris, along with helpful tips and tricks. And if you haven't taken any of her Craftsy classes, you're missing out.

You can also make the strips for the exterior and interior road stripes but until your cake is baked and measured, your spacing might be a little off. Just make the long strips and wait to slice them into the stripes until you decorate the cake.

You can also mold the optional decorations in advance or wait until you need them.

Mix the two cake mixes as directed on package. Add the vanilla, mini chocolate chips and coloring. You can leave the chips out if you'd prefer but they make a nice texture and add interest to the cake.

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and flour or use baking spray to prepare the loaf pans and baking nails. Or line with parchment if you prefer. Place 2 baking nails in the center of each pan.

Divide the batter evenly between the 2 loaf pans. Add baking strips if desired for flatter cake. I also use a shiny insulated cookie sheet under the pans to prevent a thick crust.

Bake at 350F for about 60 minutes or until cake springs back when touched lightly in center and pulls away from edges.

Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly. Flatten cake tops with a damp paper towel and the bottom of the second pan. Be careful of the baking nails! Repeat for the second pan.

Brush the warm cake with the chocolate syrup or use simple syrup instead. Cool for 15-20 minutes and invert cakes onto parchment paper or a cooling rack.

When cakes are cool to the touch, wrap well in plastic wrap or foil and freeze until firm. Trim the tops of the cakes to 2" height while firm. Reserve the cake scraps.

Place one of the trimmed and cooled cakes on a cake board, plate or serving tray. Protect the edges with waxed or parchment paper for easy cleanup later on.

Tint the chocolate frosting to black and add 3T of powdered sugar per can to thicken slightly. About 40 drops of Americolor black gel per can gives you a nice black. Frost the top of the cake with an flat, even layer of frosting and set aside.

Knead the modeling chocolate until easy to work with. Roll the white modeling chocolate on a flat surface to 1/8" thickness using spacing bands or your rolling pin or dowels as a guide. Allow to set up slightly then slice into 5 strips about 1/8th inch wide by 1/8th inch thick or deep by the length of your cake. 

Depending on the finished size of your baked and cooled cake, you may need to adjust these measurements. Roll extra strips for the exterior of the cake at this time. I used 5 white and 4 black segments for the inside of my cake and 8 white for the exterior (no black needed for the top since they are just laid on top of the black modeling chocolate road) but do whatever pleases your eye.

I used the template above to plan what the slice of my cake would be. It was about 4.25 inches square.

Clean the work surface and tools and roll out 4 strips of the black modeling chocolate to 1/8th inch thickness by 1/8th inch wide by the length of the cake.

Place the strips along the long side of the cake.

Start with white at the edge and alternate with black until you reach the other side.

You can see that my spacing was still a little off even with all of the math and measuring but the resulting cake was still perfect for effect.

Add another thin layer of black frosting on top of the strips.

The end view should now look something like this. Only better. 'Cuz you're learning from my mistakes. Right?

Top with the second cake. Frost the entire exterior of the cake with the remaining black frosting.

Place the reserved cake scraps in a food processor and pulse a couple of times to form coarse crumbs. Press the crumbs into the sides and ends of the cake, leaving the top smooth.

Roll out a piece of black modeling chocolate about 1 inch less than the width but as long as the top of your cake for the road. Center on top of the black frosting.

Cut the remaining white strips into about 8 segments of about 3/4th inch long each and space evenly on the black road.

If you didn't mold your decorations in advance, now's the time. When they are set up, add them around the cake along with the candy rocks and optional stickers. You can personalize a truck, vest or hardhat or print road signs to edible frosting sheets if you'd like.

Here's a shot of the edible logo on the truck door applied with a tiny dab of corn syrup.

I applied the same logo to the hat using the same method. One sheet of tiny logos went a LONG way!

I didn't waste the edible logos on these non-edible toppers but wanted to cover up the John Deere logo. So these were printed on regular paper to go along withe the "Hats off to Granite Employees!" theme.

Hope you enjoyed this fun but simple and TaStY construction project! Now grab a fork (or a shovel) and get to the real work of devouring your moist delicious creation!

If you won't be there for the cutting of the cake, be sure to tell the server to slice across the cake to reveal the surprise!

This plan can be adapted to any letter or number (or entire name if you're that industrious) or a simple oval racetrack. Here is an example of a roadway font by Susanne Fiedler on Dingfontbats. 

You can download it for free here but you'll need permission to use it commercially. Or you could enlarge any block style font and add the dotted lane lines for a pattern. For a quick alternative, use the jumbo paper mache or chipboard letters or numbers from your local craft store as cake carving guides and then cover or paint them to work into your party decorations.

This chart on how to carve number cakes may come in handy for some of the cake ideas shown below.




And don't limit the fun to the little ones. This cake by Cake Central user ApelilaRains for a 40 year old could be adapted for a car enthusiast of any age.