Monday, August 3, 2009

The Island Volcano Cake

I haven't done much cooking lately; the end of my sister's visit became a frenzy of squeezing in activities and much eating out. However, I did make Spaghetti Carbonara yesterday that I fully intended on posting. But it ended up sitting in the pan because at almost the exact moment it was done, the guy arrived with a dog we were thinking of fostering. After sitting in the pan while we (and our dog) met the foster dog, the egg wash "sauce" was cooked too much and left little bits of egg on the noodles. It still tasted fabulous, but the pictures didn't look very appetizing. Spaghetti Carbonara will have to wait for another day.

So here are some pictures of the cake I made for my daughter's 6th birthday party we had on Friday. We had a Hawaiian theme and she wanted a volcano cake. Because I am who I am, the volcano was complete with dry ice "smoke".

I made the volcano out of rice crispie treat. I formed the mixture around a plastic bottle that I later used to hold the water and dry ice. I frosted the volcano with chocolate buttercream. The grass, water, and sand is regular buttercream (see the recipes below). I used chocolate rocks for accents and to make the "S" for "Sophie's Island".

Here's a close-up of the water. I used a super huge star tip and the reverse shell technique to make the waves. To get the different blues: Start with white frosting. Put four generous dobs of dark blue paste food coloring in different places. Run a spatula through the frosting in lines and zig-zags, folding and turning the frosting over to smear, but not mix, in the food coloring. Stop when you still have white frosting, and also have some light blue and lots of lines of dark food coloring. Put the frosting in a decorating bag and use. The colors will mix together a little as you squeeze the frosting though the tip, and you should end up with something that looks like the picture.

A side view showing the waves crashing onto the cliff sides and the sandy beach. I sprinkled the sand with raw sugar to make it look, well, sandy.

Palm trees on stick pretzels...these are easy to do, but need a video rather than only words to describe how to make them. I'll post one someday if anyone is interested. The basic idea is two sets of four leaves, one set on top of the other, piped onto the tip of a stick pretzel. And yes, I made sure there was a palm tree for each kid. We didn't need that kind of brawl at our party ;)

Behold the smoke! All her little friends thought the smoke was awesome. Dry ice rocks. 'Nough said.

Me and the happy birthday girl :)

Tiffiny's Best Buttercream Frosting for Decorating

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/3 cup vegetable shortening
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 lb (about 4 cups) powdered sugar (sift it if from a box)
2-3 tablespoons milk

With an electric mixer (stand mixer or hand mixer), cream together the butter and shortening; scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl well. Add the vanilla and mix well. Add the powdered sugar and mix on low until the mixture is very dry and crumbly; scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl well. With the mixer on low, add the milk, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the frosting is a nice, spreadable consistency. Wait about 5 minutes before you use the frosting to see if you need to add a little more milk to get the consistency you want.

Makes about 3 cups frosting.

Tiffiny's Best Chocolate Buttercream Frosting for Decorating

4 oz (1 full bar) Ghirardelli unsweetened baking chocolate
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/3 cup vegetable shortening
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 lb (about 4 cups) powdered sugar
4-5 tablespoons milk

1. Break up the chocolate and put it in a small microwaveable bowl. Microwave for 1 minute on high and stir. Microwave for 30 seconds on high and stir until all the chocolate bits are melted. Let cool completely--don't use the chocolate unless it is completely cooled. I've been known to set my chocolate bowl in a bowl of ice to speed up the cooling, just make sure you stir it very often, and don't leave it on the ice too long, or it will get hard again.

2. With an electric mixer (stand mixer or hand mixer), cream together the butter, shortening, and melted, cooled chocolate; scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl well. Add the vanilla and mix well. Add the powdered sugar and mix on low until the mixture is very dry and crumbly; scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl well. With the mixer on low, add the milk, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the frosting is a nice, spreadable consistency. Wait about 5 minutes before you use the frosting to see if you need to add a little more milk to get the consistency you want.

Makes about 3 cups frosting.

Notes:
*Resist the temptation to mix the frosting on medium or high speed. You'll whip air into the frosting, and the air bubbles make it harder to work with.
*This frosting freezes really well. Put any extra frosting in a zip-top bag, pat it flat, remove any extra air, seal the bag and freeze flat. To use, let the frosting defrost on the countertop, transfer it to a bowl, and stir it well.

42 comments:

  1. Wow, Tiffiny that is one very creative cake! You've got great skills. You should win an award for that, I'm so serious. Your daughter must've felt so proud. I sure would've! :)

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  2. What a cool cake!! It looks like one that could win a Food Network cake challenge, and I love the pretzels for the palm tree trunks. Your daughter must feel very lucky.

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  3. You all make me blush :)

    Danger Kitten, I love my palm trees, too :)

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  4. Found you at Tastestopping! Such a cute cake. I love the pretzel palm trees. 8)

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  5. Tiffiny,

    I didn't realize until just now that this was a cake for a 6th birthday. We have one (a 6th birthday) coming up later this month, and...I just may have to steal this idea. Somehow. Our party theme is "fashion show," but there's got to be a cake out there that can be paired with the magic of dry ice and still hit that theme! This, plus Daring Bakers? My baking this month is already accounted for! :D

    Best,
    Casey

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  6. I just love this cake; nice job!
    I am making one for my nephew's birthday (but with dinos!). I was wondering which tip you used for the palm leaves? How did you dry them? Thank you.

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  7. @Anonymous, I used my favorite leaf tip, #352. And I didn't try to dry them; the buttercream is still soft. You could make them with royal icing, if you wanted, but I usually don't. It takes some practice to get the leaves how you want, but before you know it you'll have perfect palm trees! Have fun caking! Your nephew is going to love it! :)

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  8. Oh, good - no royal icing! I hate to make a batch and throw away half! I will use buttercream.
    Thank you for your quick reply - I appreciate that. I think I may have found a new favorite blog! Your recipes are wonderful.

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  9. I love it! Amanda forwarded to me, and I posted a link on ediblecrafts.craftgossip.com. I love the dry ice smoke!! So clever.

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  10. Great timing! My son wants to use this as the basis for his Cub Scout Cake Walk cake next week...it'll be a volcano like this with a dinosaur coming out of it while it is erupting. We are very excited! The cake is beautiful!

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  11. @Chic Cookies, Thanks so much! :)
    @Sherri, Yay for great timing! I hope your son had an awesome Cake Walk!! :)

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  12. Update, Tiffiny. The Cub Scout cake turned out GREAT and we had so much fun making it! Keep baking!
    http://sherrietraveling.wordpress.com/2010/11/23/buttercream-dinosaurs-and-rice-krispies/

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    Replies
    1. Realizing, of course, that I'm like a year and a half late, I just saw your update and your pictures :) Super cute! I'm glad he had such a fun time! :)

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  13. Did you ever post a video of the trees? How did you get the leaves to stay horizontal?

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  14. @Anonymous, It's pretty funny you would ask about a video of the palm trees because I was thinking about it not too long ago :) I never did post a video, but as luck would have it, I made a video of me making the palm trees as part of an audition video. I'll post it if you'd like to see it. As for getting the leaves to stay horizontal, you need to use a buttercream that's a little on the stiff side (a little more stiff than you'd use for icing a cake). Of course I love my buttercream recipe that I've included in the post :)

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  15. I would love to see the video. Making the cake tomorrow/today...

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  16. OK, here's the video. It's a little long because it was for an audition for a TV show. I was going to try to cut it down but it sounds like you want to see it right away. Oh, and be gentle with me...I was really nervous, and my brother-in-law was behind the camera, so, you know, it's not professional ;)

    http://youtu.be/1ukU7JPpolg

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  17. This cake looks really nice :) I am going to use your decorating skills for a project, Only I am going to make two layes and the cake is a sponge cake layered with chocolate buttercream. Thank you for posting the video and this cake, I wouldn't have been able to decorate my cake without it!

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  18. @Anonymous, You're so welcome! Happy caking! :)

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  19. Would love to know what you used for the leaves of the palm tree - are they piped, fondant, modeling chocolate??

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  20. @Stacy, I piped them using tip #352, my favorite leaf tip. If you'd like to see me actually making them, I have a video up on YouTube. I made a dinosaur cake as an audition video for a cake TV show. I was really nervous in the video, especially the beginning...eek!

    To view the video, copy and paste this link: http://youtu.be/1ukU7JPpolg

    Thanks for your question :)

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  21. Hi!

    This cake is gorgeous! I am making a dinosaur themed cake for my 2 yr old sons birthday and I really wanted to make a volcano. If you could tell me how you set up the volcano I would be so happy! my e-mail is joelmacristina@gmail.com

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  22. Did you pipe the palm leaves right on the pretzel sticks? They are just what I've wanted to make.

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    1. I did pipe them right onto the pretzel sticks. This is a video I made for an audition (didn't make the show--phew!)

      http://youtu.be/1ukU7JPpolg

      The palm trees are toward the end. Thanks for stopping by! :)

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    2. Thank you so much! I'm going to try to make them with RI because we will be outside and it was 75* today and Im sure they will melt outside!

      I am making a cake inspired by your cake! I will try to send you a picture of the final outcome! :o)

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    3. I would love to see pictures! :)

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  23. What an awesome cake, can you tell me what size pan you used for the bottom?

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    1. I'm so, so sorry! I viewed your question on my phone, but I can't reply from the phone. And then I forgot. So. Sorry. I used a 10" round pan for the bottom. And it's a double layer cake (so two, 10" cakes with frosting in the middle). Thanks!

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  24. That cake is awesome! Great work! I'm making something similar in three weeks. I will use some of your ideas. Thanks for sharing!

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  25. Thank you for sharing your cake! Ive been wanting to make a cake like this for over a year now and I'm finally going to try and make one this weekend with dinosaurs! I would have never thought of the dry ice so thanks for that.
    I really wanted to make the trees but was not sure how you made them. Thanks for posting a video, it looks so easy!
    Great Job and Good work on the video!
    How much water/dry ice did you use? I've never used it before so I'm just not sure about it. I guess I can play around with it the night before. I didnt realize how quick it evaporates!

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    1. Hi Lydia! I'm excited for you to give it a try...it's a super fun cake :) It doesn't take much water/ice to get the smoke. Little pieces at a time. Also, a friend use hot water and the volcano shot up into the air--awesome :) She put the dry ice in first, then, when everyone was ready, she poured in the hot water. When I did it I had the water in the bottle and dropped in the little pieces of dry ice. Good luck, and thanks for stopping by! :D

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  26. We used your buttercream recipe replacing the vanilla with peppermint extract to make candy cane cupcakes - DELICIOUS!!! We love this frosting recipe. Thanks for your help with the concessions a couple of weeks ago too. I ended up having to go to Sam's all three days of the play because we kept running out.

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    1. I love that you love the frosting! And I love that you used peppermint extract--for how many years I've been making this frosting I've never done that. A must-try, for sure! And you're totally welcome for the concessions help. Crazy (and totally awesome)that you ran out each night!

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  27. Tiffany this cake is absolutely amazing! I've been looking all over the web for an idea for my son's birthday and when I saw your cake I said "This is it" then I found out the volcano actually smoked... Incredible! Your kids are the luckiest kids in the world. Thank you so much for making this amazing cake and giving me an idea to work with. You're awesome!
    Danielle

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    1. Thank you so much! You just made my night! :)

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  28. Great Cake, I want to try to do something like this for my daughter's "Shark Boy and Lava Girl" party! The combination of the volcano and the ocean go perfect with the theme.

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  29. The WAVES... oh, my, the waves... amazing!

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  30. Wow, this is an mazing cake. I will do something inspired on yours for my nephew in 3 days. Would you give me tutorial how you made the leaves? --- Thank you! janaina

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for your comment! Sorry I didn't respond earlier, the holidays were really busy for me and my family :) There is a video on YouTube about this cake and the leaves are towards the end. You can copy and paste this link: http://youtu.be/1ukU7JPpolg

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