Introduction: The Phantom of the Opera Monkey Music Box Cake
"Christine, Christine ...
Where in the world have you been hiding?
Really, you were perfect
I only wish I knew your secret
Who is your great tutor?"
MEG - Angel Of Music
Ladies and gentlemen, this is Project 665. A papier mache musical box in the shape of a barrel organ. Attached, the figure of a monkey in Persian robes playing the cymbals. This item -- is all edible. I commenced with chocolate, flour, sugar, magic, luck, etc... Do you want to taste it or you would like to use it to summon the Opera Ghost? Well, I need it for both after watching the Phantom of the Opera in the theater.
Lucky for you, you too could create this music box on your own rather than winning an overpriced auction from the old theatrical props.
The cake is separated into 2 parts:
- The Barrel Organ (Chocolate Ganache Red Velvet Cake with Fondant Decorations)
- Money Figure (Chocolate Modelling + Krispies & Marshmallows + Frosting with Buttercream and Fondant)
This collector's piece has the power of summoning the Opera Ghost, of course it will take you some time and skills if you have decided to build your own.
Ladies and gentlemen, who knows?
If you keep it here, maybe it will still play, when all the rest of us are dead...
Step 1: Tools and Ingredients
- Confectioners Sugar
- Extra Dark Chocolate
- White Chocolate
- Unsalted Butter
- Heavy Cream or Whipping Cream which contains at least 35% fat
- Cocoa Powder
- Beetroot and Beetroot Juice
- Food Coloring (Red and Black are compulsory, other colors could be used as painting or decoration)
- Edible Gold liquid paint/Gold Power and Vodka
- Baking Soda
- Rice Krispies
- Edible Glue
- Pocky Biscuits Sticks (Optional)
- Corn Syrup
- Painting brushes (small to mid size)
- Rectangular Cake Pan
- Wooden Toothpicks and Bamboo Skewers
- Rolling Pin
- Knives (large and small for cake trimming to frosting or Rice Krispies cutting)
- Molding Mat
- Icing/Confectioners Sugar
- Food Grade Vintage Relief Flourish Silicone Cake Mold
- Small Fondant Cutters (Optional)
- Frilling tool (Optional)
- Double Boiler (Optional)
- Microwave (Optional)
- Digital Scale
- Measuring Cup
- Fridge and a cool environment
- Elastic Food Covers
- Bowls, spoons and Dishes for mixing and placing
- Hand Mixer
- Paper and Pencil for draft (Optional)
- Broil and pan
- Turn Table Rolling Cake Stand
- Circular cup (Optional)
Step 2: The Barrel Organ - the Underlying Beetroot Red Velvet Cake
The music box is made of Beetroot Red Velvet Cake with Buttercream Frosting, and the cake is flooded with Chocolate Ganache after trimmed and cooled. Once the chocolate is chilled, decorate it with Fondant and cake crumbs.
Ingredients of Beetroot Red Velvet Cake
- Butter at room temperature 120g
- Confectioners Sugar 100g
- Eggs at room temperature 2
- Cocoa Powder 10g
- Beetroot Juice with chopped beetroots 240g
- Flour 300g
- Salt 1 teaspoon
- Baking Soda 1 teaspoon
- Red Food Coloring
Apart from the red velvet cake recipe you have seen, I have reduced the sugar usage in this recipe because both the chocolate frosting and the buttercream frosting will produce sweet flavor. You can follow your favorite cake recipe and add in beetroot juice(or replace it with same amount of water or milk) and red food coloring.
Use a Rectangular Cake Tin, butter and flour the inside surfaces.
The ingredients are mixed in the following order gradually by Hand Mixer:
- butter and sugar
- beetroot juice and chopped beetroots
- flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt mixture
- drops of red food coloring until you are happy with the color
Pour the mixture in to the baking pan. Bake at 160 degrees for 45 minutes. When it is nearly finished, pluck in a toothpick in the center of the cake to the bottom of the tin and see if there is any residual sticking with the toothpick. If the toothpick is non-sticky then the cake is ready. Remove the cake from the tin pan and fridge it overnight. We need the cake to be firm for cutting in perfect shape.
Step 3: The Barrel Organ - Cutting and Frosting the Cake
Trim the cake into a rectangle of your desired music box size. Save up the cake crumbs for later decoration.
If your cake is big enough to fit the whole music box, it is not necessary for you to make the frosting in between and you could just be done with one layered cake.
As for me, my tin can is 23x12x7cm, but the baked cake rose up at the middle and was less raised on the sides. For uneven cake like this I will have to cut the cake into half, invert the upper top of the cake so that the surface of the cake will be flat, and then fill the middle with frosting. In this way the resulting cake will appear taller than the one which just came out of the oven.
My resulting music box cake is 16x11x8cm. The measurement of the cake could differ for a few centimeters but the height and depth should not variate too much.
Ingredients of Cake Buttercream Frosting
- Butter 100g
- Confectioners Sugar 100g
- Milk 2 teaspoons
Let the butter set in room temperature, beat them with Hand Mixer and mix in sugar. Keep beating until you see that they are firm enough to stand. Fill them in between the cake layers and put the cake into the fridge.
Step 4: The Barrel Organ - Extra Dark Chocolate Ganache
Ingredients of Extra Dark Chocolate Ganache
- Extra Dark Chocolate or Dark Chocolate 100g
- Heavy Cream 100g
- Corn Syrup (Optional) 1 teaspoon
Melt the Extra Dark Chocolate in the double boiler or microwave and then add in corn syrup. You could add a few drops of black coloring if you are using Dark Chocolate instead. Corn syrup is optional here, it will give the ganache a shinier finish. Remove it from the heat and slowly add into heavy cream while stirring.
Here comes the fun part: Take the cake out from the fridge, and place it on the broil and pan. Pour the ganache onto the cake. The heated ganache should be able to cover the cold cake entirely. Let the cake settle at a cool temperature.
Save up the remaining ganache for later use.
Step 5: The Barrel Organ - Decoration
You can decorate the cake in your own style and this is where you could show off how creative you are.
I decorated the cake mainly with Fondant.
Relief: they are created from Vintage Relief Flourish Silicone Cake Mold.
Braids on the edges: Rolling the fondant into a large sheet, I cut them straightly into pieces with a metal ruler. They should be thick enough for you to handle without breaking, for me they are around 3-5 mm. They should also be long enough to cover your the edges of your cake. Take 3 pieces and braid them together. Together I have decorated 20 edges, each face should have 4 edgings. Make 1 or 2 more braids for back up. If the braid piece is long enough, they could be able to fit in 2 to 3 edges at a time.
Circles on the corners: Use 4 even sized fondant circles for the 4 corners of the cake.
After these decorations are ready and cooled for 15 minutes, glue them on the cake.
Settle until the fondant is attached to the cake and you could paint the decorations in gold.
If you are using gold powder like me, mix them with a few drops of vodka for effective application. The gold will be shiner instead of merely painting with gold powder. If you are worried of vodka, use gold liquid instead.
To make the top of the cake produce a "velvet lining" look, we can make use of the stray cake crumbs while we were cutting the cake! No food is wasted! If there are not much cake crumbs left, rub some of the cut cake pieces into cake crumbs. Spread the cake crumbs onto the cake and we are done with the barrel organ.
But be careful with cake crumbs, try not to put the cake at windy area or some may be blown away.
The Ratchet Lever of the Barrel Organ
It so happened that I have got banana flavored Pocky biscuit sticks at home. You could use any kind of biscuit stick. Get 1 stick and prick it into the cake on the side. At the end of the stick, attach a shape to decorate it. I used a mask-like shape with fondant.
To create that shape, roll a small potion of fondant into a sphere and create spikes on both ends, then you will get a shape of lemon, place 4 fingers to hold the shape and gently press them together to form the mask shape.
Step 6: Monkey Figure - the Head and Feet
The Monkey Figure is made of White Modelling Chocolate, Krispies Treats and Chocolate Buttercream Frosting and decorated by fondant.
This Monkey is not a cartoon monkey, instead it shapes like human but appears as a monkey outlook. So we will try to use human proportion to make the monkey. This is the difficult part of the project and it took me several tries to make something which looks like monkey.
Head and Feet with Modelling Chocolate
Ingredients of White Modelling Chocolate
- White Chocolate 50g
- Corn Syrup 2 teaspoon
- Milk or Dark Chocolate (very little for color adjustment) [Optional]
I used White Modelling Chocolate for the monkey head and its feet. These parts are relatively small so I do not need to make much modelling chocolate. Melt the white chocolate on the double boiler. You can add a little milk or dark chocolate if you do not want the face of your monkey to be completely white. One little trick you can do if you do not want to add milk or dark chocolate: it is very easy to scorch white chocolate, if it burns, make it burn a little, then the mixture will not appear to be pure white.
When you are happy with the color of monkey face, remove it from the heat and gradually mix the chocolate with corn syrup to make it firm. Place the mixture on Elastic Food Covers and let it settle overnight at room temperature.
The process of making the head of the monkey is just like making a fondant human head. Grab some of the modelling chocolate and make a sphere which is 1 inch or 2-3cm.
Press the two sides of the sphere and make a little oval shape, and make the eye sockets with your fingertips or knuckles by pressing them into the modelling chocolate at the same time. Grab a little more modelling chocolate for the size of the nose of the monkey, make it into a round shape and glue it onto the nose place. Use toothpicks to make the nostrils and shape the nose. When you are satisfied with the head of the monkey, cover it with Food Covers and put it in the fridge.
Later use black food coloring to paint the eyebrows, eyes, nostrils and mouth of the monkey. Store it back in the fridge until other parts are ready.
Shape the feet and fridge them as well.
Step 7: Monkey Figure - the Body and Legs
Ingredients of Krispies Treats
- Rice Krispies (Half pack)
- Mashmallows (Half pack)
Melt a little butter and add in marshmallows on the stove or microwave. Butter is added to make the melted marshmallows less sticky and be separated easier, so add as needed. Add in Krispies and mix them well. Shape the body of the monkey and its limbs separately. The height of the body should be around the same height of the Barrel Organ. The thigh should be a little less than half of the width of the Barrel Organ. Spear the body with a Bamboo Skewer (for standing on the cake) and a toothpick (for the hands). The legs are done by shaping a '7' shape. Thread the legs with toothpicks. Wrap them in food cover and set overnight.
Step 8: Monkey Figure - Arms and Other Decorations
Arms and Hands
The arms and hands of the Monkey are a bit complicated and not easy to handle by Krispies Treats, I found that fondant is the easiest way to attach all elements in it without breaking.
The Persian Vest is where you could get creative. Make the Monkey a royal and classy robe! Roughly measure the diameter of the Krispies monkey body.
The size of the robe will be
- Width: 3.14xdiameter of monkey body
- Height: 1-2cm shorter than the length of the monkey body
Use pencil and paper to draw a rectangle of that size, cut it out. Roll the fondant and make it cover the whole rectangle and cut it out using the paper reference. Trim the corners to be circular. Here I make use of the roundness of a cup and trim the round edges.
Roughly measure the length from the vest edging to the sleeve. Using the small leaf shape fondant cutter, make two holes in the vest for the hands.
Draw any patterns on the vest as you like, let the paint dry and cover it up with food cover.
Cymbals and Monkey Mask
The pair of Cymbals is easy to made. You could use a small circular size fondant cutter or cut out a nicely drawn circle on paper and trace them with fondant. As for the mask, draw them on a paper and fondant trace it.
Dry the Cymbals and Monkey Mask so that they are solid.
Step 9: Monkey Figure - Assembling
Connect the body and legs together.
Simply mix the used buttercream and dark chocolate ganache together until the monkey hair color is right. Spread them all through the body and legs. Dress the monkey with its fondant vest. Attach the head and the arms too and frost them too. Cover the cheeks and forehead with frosting and it will look like a monkey.
Glue the Cymbals and Monkey Mask onto its hands and eyes respectively.
Put the Monkey on the cake and you are ready to summon the ghosts.
Now, I've warned you, this is the point of no return...