Introduction: An Army of Daleks Cakes
These are the cupcakes I made with my son and my daughter-in-law for Cheyenne’s 15th birthday! Daleks are creatures from the BBC TV series ‘Doctor Who’. They are evil and want to conquer the universe.
The first question when doing a Dalek Cake is whether to make one huge cake or lots of smaller cakes. (I guess some people would do lots of life size cakes. . . but those folks have their own TV shows on food network.) We decided on cupcake sized daleks, so that we could have an army of them.
The second question when making a cake Dalek is, “Can we do this without fondant?” I don’t mind using fondant for decorative details on a cake but I have a real distaste for covering an entire cake in it.
So we go to google and look at all the Dalek pics and Dalek cake pics. Did I mention Daleks are evil? They have smooth metal sides, with rows of small hemispheres. They are not truly round at the base. Their arms consist of a plunger and a whisk, and their eye stalks look like a third arm.
My son pointed out that the first time Daleks appeared on the series back in the 60’s, their bases were round. Win! Also, if we could get a metallic sheen on them that would make up for the side not being exactly straight. So we had our plan!
Step 1: Ingredients and Supplies:
Brownie pop molds for the heads
Regular cupcake pans
Jumbo cupcake pans
Heavy Cream and Semi-sweet chocolate chips for the ganache frosting
Small batch or can or leftover container of chocolate frosting.
Sixlets candy in gold (single colors of sixlets can be purchased at bulk candy stores or online)
Something metallic (notes at end)
Pocky sticks or pretzels for the arms
Hershey's Drops for the suction cups
Step 2: Step One: Bake Your Cupcakes
Step one: Bake your cupcakes
We decided to make thirty of these little monsters. We used brownies baked in jumbo muffin pans for the bases. It took three packages of brownie mix. Sam’s Club had the four pack of Ghirardelli brownie mix for 7 or 8 dollars.
We used Duncan Hines cake mix for the middles and heads. Most of the heads were Red Velvet. The middles were swiss chocolate and/or devils food. I prefer Duncan Hines when it is important to have a firm and moist cake. I bake according to the directions but I add an extra egg yolk and a splash of vanilla extract.
Baking the heads in the silicon brownie pop molds worked beautifully for the shape – but it was difficult to avoid the air pockets at the bottom of the mold.
Step 3: Step Two: Freeze All Your Parts / / / Step Three: Saw Your Domed Tops Off and Stack.
When you cut the tops off the middle pieces gently squeeze the cupcake by circling it with you thumb and middle finger. This will help match the size to the top of the base.
Use leftover chocolate icing from another project to glue your pieces together. Zap the frosting in the microwave for a moment so it is runny. You want the frosting to act as glue, not to be an actual frosting layer.
Step Three and a half: Freeze. Or refrigerate. Or if you don't live in the desert just set them aside.
Before glazing, gently brush away any errant crumbs.
Step 4: Step Four: Make Ganache
Ganache is easy to make, and tastes heavenly. For each batch (and we used two and a half batches) heat 2 cups heavy cream until it is almost boiling. Pour over 16 ounces chopped chocolate. (We used semisweet chocolate chips from Sam’s Club. Purists will insist on high quality semisweet chocolate blocks. Four times the cost and four times the effort. And by the time you are done chopping, four times the mess!)
Let sit for 2 or 3 minutes and then stir. And then stir some more. And then stir until it magically transforms into this thick, luscious, dark chocolaty glaze. Here is where ganache is so magical. It can be poured right now as a glaze. Or you can cool it in the fridge or on the counter top and it will become gradually thicker. Eventually it will be so thick you will need to scoop it. It’s a slow process so you have long windows of time to do what you want with your ganache when it is at the right consistency.
Step 5: Step Five: Glaze Your Daleks
We poured our ganache glaze over our troublesome Daleks. It poured smoothly but did not cover completely. Which meant pouring another layer and eventually using a spatula to spread.
Step 6: Step Six: Back Into the Freezer to Set Up and Give Us a Chance to Clean the Table.
Again, you needn't freeze them. Just let them rest somewhere quiet while you prep for next step.
Step 7: Step Seven: Metalisize
If your bumps aren’t a color you like add them first so that they can be painted. We had gold sixlets so we painted first and then added them.
There are at least three brands of aerosol cake paint that come in bronze and/or gold. They are expensive. There is also a cake paint available online or at big cake decorating stores (not Michael’s or Joann’s) that is only eight dollars a bottle and can be sprayed or painted on. Because my husband has an air compressor in the garage I was hesitant to buy the hundred and fifty dollar cake air brush system. My son and I went to Harbor Freight and bought a 20 dollar airbrush and ten dollar hose and an adapter piece for a few bucks. If that hadn’t worked I would have tried using my oil spritzer bottle. It has a plunger that you pump to build up air pressure in the bottle.
Step 8: Step Eight: Add Bumps
Daleks have bumps on the bottom half that run four high and 8-10 around. Which is 32 bumps a Dalek. Times 30 Daleks is 960 pieces. We used gold sixlets but were briefly considering using the candy dots that come on paper strips.
Step 9: Step Nine: Add Arms and Eye Stalks.
We had tried freezing red string licorice (Yes, I know. Licorice isn’t red. But that’s what people call it!) and coating it in almond bark but it wasn’t stiff enough. So we went with pocky (candy coated cookie sticks from Japan) for one arm and gold twisted candles for the other. Small pretzel sticks would have been our third choice. We cut the pocky into arm sized pieces, dipped them in almond bark, and then used more almond bark to glue them to Hersheys drops. For the eye stalks we used tiny pieces of red string candy instead of hersheys drops. We transported the Daleks without their arms and added them once we got to the destination!
Step 10: Serve!
I forgot, we also added edible glitter. Disco Dust Chocolate brown.
Cheyenne was surprised and thrilled. And a wee bit scared!
The cupcakes themselves were moist and delicious.