For my daughter's 5th birthday she wanted a cake inspired by the movie "Brave". She didn't have any specific design or plan in mind so I just winged it.
Step 1: Come Up With a Design
I like making sketches for almost anything I make/build before I build it. It keeps me focused on how I want the end result to look. It doesn't always come out exactly the same, but the basics are there.
Step 2: Mold the Chocolate Stones, Menhirs and Tree Trunk
- A menhir (French, from Middle Breton : men, stone + hir, long) is a large upright standing stone. Menhirs may be found singly as monoliths, or as part of a group of similar stones.
Stones and Menhirs:
I first crinkled the foil gently so there were creases running in all directions. I then made shallow pools out of the foil and poured the warm chocolate in them and put the foil and warm chocolate in a flat, horizontal space in the freezer until they solidified. If you have seen the movie, you'll understand the use of the Menhirs.
I crinkled the foil to where the creases were running in the same direction so as to simulate tree bark. make a shallow pool out of the foil and pour in the chocolate, just like the Stones and Menhirs step above.
After the trunk was cooled and popped from the mold I dipped a popsicle stick in some melted chocolate and ran it up and down the trunk repeatedly so as to roughen up the smooth surface of the trunk. I also drizzled some chocolate on the foil in random shapes so as to simulate branches and roots. I then broke the pieces off, dipped the popsicle stick in the warm chocolate and used it to glue the roots and branches to the trunk / log.
Step 3: Mold the Witch's Cottage
You can do this any way you want. This is just the way I went about it.
I gathered the following materials and tools.
Cardboard (cereal box)
Foam Trays (meat trays)
Pen / Pencil
I started by rough drawing the position of the door and window, as well as the outline of the cottage facade.
I then cut the foam meat trays and layered them in the reverse order of what I wanted the final result to be. Once I am happy with the positioning of the foam I tape the parts to the cardboard to keep them from shifting. I then smooth some foil over the taped foam and cardboard, making sure all foil has been tucked into all the crevices. Don't worry about crinkles and creases in the foil. That will either add character to the piece, or will get carved out.
Once the warm melting chocolate had been poured into the mold, cooled and popped free from the foil mold I proceeded to carve details into the piece. I used a dental pick and a few clay sculpting tools (wash these beforehand if you normally use these on other sculpting products).
Note: when I finally got the semi finished facade onto the cake I realized the scale was completely off, so I had to break it apart and re-melt it and re-did the scale on the cardboard and the foam. This whole process could have been skipped completely by just carving everything from a whole solid block of chocolate. The piece in the step by step images is not the one I used in the final iteration of the cake.
Step 4: Put It All Together
My wife baked two 9"x13" cakes. I used one for the base. The second one was used for the hillside. I cut the second one in 1/2 diagonally and then cut a gentle slope up the diagonal cut.
I frosted the two pieces together, and then frosted the rest of the cake in Betty Crocker Cream Cheese Frosting that was tinted green. As I mentioned earlier, this 'ible was not about how to bake a cake and frost it, but rather, how I made the parts and pieces for the decoration. There was nothing special about how I layered and frosted the cake.
Once I started installing the Menhirs on the top of the hill I realized the cake was too spongy to keep the Menhirs upright. I melted more chocolate tomake little discs to glue the base of the Menhirs to, for greater surface area for stability. Worked like a charm.
I hid the bases by sprinkling some crushed Graham Crackers around them. I also made a little pond (changed from a stream in the original drawing) and used more crushed Graham Crackers to give the pond a little beach area. I also used some dark green sugar for lichen and moss.
I used 3 bears from a bag of Teddy Grahams for the little brothers. The pond was made using gel icing with blue sparkles. I also found some lemon cookies with what looked like Celtic knotwork design. I used the cookies as shields all the way around the back of the cake (how unoriginal, but hey, when pressed for time you do what you can.).
I know, I know, my piping needs a lot of work. I only decorate cakes once a year anymore, so I don't get much practice.