March 9, 2009 at 22:26 | Posted in Cute Food Photos | 3 Comments

† Name
† How were you introduced to the art of “cute cooking”?
After ordering a custom cake that didn’t live up to the hype, I decided to make one myself.  I’ve always loved clever and cute food creations.
† What inspired your cute creation? 
The cake is based on the Hello Kitty character Chococat.  I love Hello Kitty and would have made her instead, but I wanted chocolate frosting.  My birthday was coming up and I wanted a cake that was fun and different, but didn’t know what to make; then my mom sent me a picture of a dinosaur cake she made for my nephew out of a 9×13 cake.  Insert “lightbulb going off!” moment here :)

† How did you make it? 
1 box cake mix (Betty Crocker, but any brand will do)
1 container pre-made frosting (Betty Crocker Dark Chocolate)
9×13 glass pan (Pam or butter & flour pan so cake will easily come out of the pan)

Follow mixing and baking instructions for cake. While baking, wrap a flipped over jellyroll pan with tinfoil.  This will be the trimming, frosting and serving surface.

When cake is done baking, take it out of the oven and run a knife around the edge of the pan to loosen it a bit.  Let cake cool 20-30 minutes before attempting removal (try too soon, and you run the risk of the cake being too fragile, wait too long and the cake will stick in the pan).  Your goal: remove the cake from the pan and place it on the jellyroll pan.   Here’s how:  take a very large, non-linty kitchen towel (e.g. flour sack) and sprinkle some powdered sugar on it (this will create a semi-non stick area so the cake won’t completely stick to the towel; a little bit will stick to the towel, but if you peel it gently, you shouldn’t lose too much cake and you can reattach divots or frost over craters).  Place towel over the top of the 9×13 pan and tightly grip each of the towel’s 2 corners in your hands.  Get a good grip on the towel and the pan — in one quick motion, you will lift and flip the pan in order to get the cake out of the pan and onto the towel, coming to rest on the kitchen counter.  Place the jellyroll pan on the cake, grab the towel and pan together, and flip again to get the cake onto the pan.  The whole point of all this flipping is to keep the top of the cake on top — in addition to being a better and sturdier canvas for frosting, you won’t have to worry about an uneven bottom.

Time to trim the shape for Chococat’s head and ears.  Chococat has an oval shaped head, so cut off the 4 corners of the cake and do so in a curved pattern (triangles with a rounded bottom).  Try to cut an oval and leave as much of the sides on the cake (this will cut down on the crumbing when you frost the cake).  Start conservatively and shave off little bits in order to get the final oval shape.  Once you are happy with the head shape, move onto the ears.  Without cutting, take 2 corner triangles and place them on top of the head. Work out the general placement and see if and how much you will need to trim off in order to make an ear shape (at the very least, you will want to cut off the bottom ends of the triangles to make good “ear” shapes). To make ears symmetrical, I trim one ear, place it on top of another ear, and then trim/trace.  Don’t worry if cuts aren’t perfect, frosting can smooth them out.  

Frosting the cake!  I attach ears first and do so with a blob of frosting on each so they don’t move or come off the head while frosting.  When you frost the cake, you will get frosting on the tinfoil, but you will clean that up later, so don’t worry about being too neat — it’s more important to get good, even frosting coverage.  Once frosted, I clean up the excess frosting on the tinfoil with a dishtowel wrapped around my index finger — and if I’m feeling anal retentive, I use a Q-Tip.

To make the eyes you can either use white frosting or shredded coconut.  Before you do the eyes, figure out the size and placement.  To make round eyes with shredded coconut, I use the screw-top lid from a 1/2 pint mason jar (minus the flat lid); I hold it just above the frosting and hand sprinkle the coconut into the shape of the circle; you will create a little bit of a mound in order to get good coconut coverage.  Repeat for the other eye.  For the iris, I use whatever is handy in the pantry that is dark and circular:  2 large chocolate chips, 2 large almonds (inserted point down), mini peanut butter cups, etc. 

Now your Chococat cake is ready :)  If you are transporting or want to cover it, take toothpicks (or straws cut in half, coffee stirrers, wooden skewers cut in thirds) and lightly press them into the SIDE of the cake to create a ring on which the saran wrap will rest and stay off the cake. I also put one toothpick in the eye to keep the saran wrap off the cake. By putting the toothpicks on the side of the cake, I avoid holes in the cake.

chococat cake diagram, cute cake drawing

† Any other comments or tips?
Only to repeat the importance of:
* Pam or butter & flour the 9×13 glass pan!! If you don’t, you won’t be able to flip the cake out of the pan.
* The pan/dishtowel to jellyroll pan flip.

To submit photos of cute food you found or made, click here.



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