Apr 24, 2012

Cookie Monster Cake

I'm so sorry it's been a few quiet weeks since my last post.  My son's 1st birthday kept me busier than expected!  The theme for his party was Sesame Street, with of course a Cookie Monster Cake.   

I bought the cake pan off eBay, dating back from 1982!  It was still brand new with all the packaging and instructions, very cool.  It sold back then for $8.99 (it still had the price tag) I paid $40!    Apparently the design of this specific pan was discontinued?  Either that or I got jibbed.  Anyway it doesn't matter, it was worth every penny.  I also made the little man a small cake just for him to destroy.  Saying we had a mess on our hands is putting it mildly.

But it was worth ever last little crumb, he's going to be the King of my Cakes that's for sure.

As for Cookie Monster (and all his damn fur) I sadly didn't photograph each and every step for you as I had hoped.  See, I started decorating the cake around 8pm the night before his party and didn't finish until about 2am.  It was either photograph the process or get it done before sunrise, I opted to get it done.

Thankfully my husband took a few shots along the way which I am extremely grateful for.  Guess he thought he should look busy otherwise I'd put him to work!

What you'll need to prepare the Cookie Monster Happy Birthday cake:

  • Wilton's decorating bags (I use the disposable ones, makes clean up SO much easier) and couplers
  • tips 4, 16, 225 (I couldn't find 225 only 224 which works pretty much the same), 233, and 352
  • serving plate or cake board
  • one 2-layer cake recipe (see below for the recipe or use your favorite)
  • 3 1/2 cups butter cream icing (see below for the recipe or use your favorite)
  • Wilton's food coloring gel in colors royal blue, lemon yellow, leaf green, pink, and brown

For the cake

For these types of molded pans, you can use pretty much use any cake recipe you prefer.  However it's probably wise to leave out any kind of nuts or chocolate chips though.  It's important to have a smooth surface to pipe on. 

More important than anything else throughout this entire process is to GREASE & FLOUR YOUR PAN EXTREMELY THOROUGHLY.  Sorry for the caps, but this is muy muy muy importante! 

As usual, use a sandwich baggie as a glove and grease the entire pan with Crisco (vegetable shortening).  Don't rush through this step, really take your time and get into every nook and cranny.  Even if a small piece of cake sticks to the pan when it's finished cooling, it won't show once you pipe.  But it's still important to have all those indentations to understand where and what to pipe.

Once you've greased the pan well, next add a few tablespoons of flour to the pan and coat evenly.  If you notice any blank spots, re-grease and dust over with flour.  Every bit of pan needs to be covered with flour.  It's a pain I know but trust me you will be so thankful when the cake slides easily out of the pan.

Prepare your cake recipe as per the directions and pour into the prepared pan.  BUT something very important!  Only fill the cake pan 1/2 of the way full.  I filled the pan almost 3/4 of the way and the cake rose, and rose, and rose.  Cookie Monster was overflowing and ridiculously puffy.  This really isn't so much of a problem, you'll just have a lot of trimming to do.  Let the cake cool completely on a wire rack.  I baked the cake the night before I frosted so it had plenty of time to cool. If you do the same be sure to tightly wrap in plastic wrap to avoid the cake from drying out.

Once the cake has cooled, you'll need to trim the top completely even so it will sit totally flat on your cake board.  Don't forget that the top is going to be flipped over and will be the bottom (so Cookie Monster's face, or whatever type of pan you use will be facing up).  You'll need to use a sharp knife (I used a bread knife) and gently even off the top of the cake.  Save the scraps to snack on as you frost.

Easy Peasy chocolate cake

2 cups water
1 cup cocoa powder
2 (4-ounce) sticks unsalted butter, cold
2 1/2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 3/4 cups unbleached all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  In a small saucepan, bring the water to a boil, turn off heat and whisk in the cocoa until smooth. Let cool to room temperature.

In the bowl of a standing mixer with the paddle attachment, add the cold butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla. Beat on slow to combine and raise to medium-high speed for 8 to 10 minutes until the butter is almost completely incorporated into the mixture.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, sift the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.

With the mixer on low speed, alternately add the flour mixture and the cocoa liquid in 2 additions of each, stopping to scrape the bowl occasionally, mixing just until combined.
Pour batter into prepared cake pan (well greased and floured).  Remember to only fill about 1/2 full.  Use remaining batter for another small cake.   Bake for 45 to 55 minutes until the cake springs back when gently pressed and a toothpick in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan 10 minutes, then place on wire racks to finish cooling completely.

Invert cake onto cake board and prepare the frosting.

For the butter cream frosting

There are a million and one butter cream frosting recipes out there, and maybe you've got your favorite one too, however when it comes to piping, consistency is KEY.  This recipe is from Wilton's and is specifically for piping.  Other butter cream recipes may taste heavenly and look beautiful but they can tend to be too soft.  You need to pipe with a frosting (especially when it comes to the fur) with a frosting that is tough and can hold it's shape well.  This one is perfect and pretty much foolproof.

1/2 cup Crisco (vegetable shortening)
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 cups sifted confectioners sugar (there are 4 cups in a pound)
3 tablespoons milk

In large bowl, cream shortening and butter with electric mixer on medium speed (#4 on a Kitchen Aid).  Beat until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add vanilla and gradually add sugar, one cup at a time, beating well on medium speed. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl often. When all sugar has been mixed in, icing will appear dry. Add milk and beat at medium speed until light and fluffy. Keep bowl covered with a damp cloth until ready to use.  For best results, keep icing bowl in refrigerator when not in use.

Tinting the frosting

Gather 6 bowls (5 small and one medium). 

Divide the frosting as follows:

In the medium bowl add 1 1/2 cup frosting.  Tint this with the Royal Blue.  Slowly add the food coloring gel with a toothpick until you reach the desired shade.

In the small bowls:
  • tint 1/4 cup leaf green
  • tint 1/4 cup pink
  • tint 1/4 cup brown
  • tint 1/2 cup yellow (thin with 1/2 teaspoon milk or 2 teaspoons light corn syrup)
  • reserve 3/4 cup white frosting

with pink & brown frosting:
use tip 225 with the pink frosting to make the flowers and tip 4 with the brown to make the centers of the flowers  

with the green frosting
use tip 352 to make the leaves for the flowers

*note I didn't make the flowers on the cake, just didn't have the energy. But if you decide to add them they should be located along the zig-zag garland. Here is an original picture of the cake pan with the label so you can see exactly where they should go:

with the yellow frosting
use a small spatula to frost the 'birthday cake' (the cake Cookie Monster is holding, not the whole cake!)

with the brown frosting
use tip 4 to outline the eyeballs, mouth, and folds in his hat

with the white frosting
use tip 4 to outline and fill in eyeballs
use tip 16 to make stars and cover the entire hat and on the cake plate Cookie Monster is holding
use tip 16 to make zig zag garland on the birthday cake
use tip 16 to make shells to edge the birthday cake top and base (just above the cake plate)

with the brown (again)
use tip 4 to add the pupils to the eyes

with the blue frosting
use tip 233 to create the fur to cover the face, arms, and body

You may notice here that Cookie Monster has something white in his mouth and also a second white smile under his mouth...a friend of mine decided he needed a tooth and something white there.  I don't know what that is actually.  Anyway, hubby tried to scrape it off before I had a melt down.  I know my friend who drew on my dear cake is going to read this...you are naughty.  Stay away from my cakes.  But I love you anyway.

Finally you can see my finished cake looks a lot different than the one done by Wilton's above...I chickened out on some of the piping. I couldn't get the shells right if my life depended on it. I also ended up coloring the top of the cake green since I thought it needed more color. Ok, and I hoped it would disatract that I didn't add the flowers. Really you don't need to follow the directions exactly, just go with it and see how things turn out. Trust me no one will notice, especially the kids. They will just be so excited that they are going to eat cake they'll love anything you make.

chocolate cake recipe courtsy of Food Network

frosting recipe courtesey of Wilton's

photography by Jo Nash (not the crappy ones of me decorating, but the beautiful ones of my Birthday Boy!)

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