I love cooking...but I might be the world's worst baker! Something about having to precisely measure ingredients seems oppressive and style-cramping. So with cakes, I have always deferred to using mixes and focusing my energy on the decorating.
Here are some of my past creations. Some were free hand, for others I used a Wilton Pan. The Star Wars Lego cakes were fondant. Some turned out well, others, well...turned out.
Wil turned 12 this month and his mother planned his birthday party at Dave and Buster's, which seems like a Chuck E. Cheese's for older kids and adults. (Don't even get me started on the evils of Chuck E. Cheese!) He said he didn't want to waste time with a big cake because he didn't want to take away from the game-playing, but that he wanted Minecraft cupcakes. Contradictions in his thought process aside, I now had to figure out how to make cupcakes out of these ridiculously primitive, pixelated monsters. So I did what any other 42 year-old man would do...go right to Pinterest! (Sigh, yes my life has come to this. In fact, I am now in the process of buying a minivan to complete the dissolution of my soul.)
Pinterest surprisingly wasn't very helpful to me. Most of the ideas were for using fondant and cutting it into hundreds of little squares and decorating the cakes with them. I don't mind fondant if I have to use it, but it tastes pretty much like, well, absolutely nothing. And it has been a long week and ain't nobody got time to color, roll, and cut 1500 fondant squares. At least not in my world. Sorry, kid, but we have to figure out another plan.
Next step in the complete eradication of my masculinity was a visit to Michael's. I joke about the masculinity because I secretly really like this store, though not nearly as much as Home Depot. I was shopping and brainstorming at the same time. Do I use sugar paper? Do I make a sheet cake and cut mini squares and assemble them? Do I realize that, while thousands of others are out enjoying happy hour on a friday afternoon, I'm wandering the cake aisles at a craft store? I try to imagine I'm Indiana Jones searching for an ancient relic, but it is not helping. This is my life. I must embrace it. Ok, ok...yes, I love it. Just don't tell anyone.
Finally, inspiration struck me. High on a shelf, almost out of view, was the perfect solution. A pan that bakes cubic brownies or cupcakes! This could work! I did some quick math in my head, figuring out how many pixels across and down this bizarre creatures had. I was working off of these pictures I took from the interweb.
I figured 8x8, give or take some. If I used 16 cupcakes for each monster, and frosted four squares on each, we could be in business! Well, I needed to get to Niagara Cafe for to pick up dinner before Annie and Olivia had a meltdown, so I went with this plan. I bought two pans, each was listed at about $15 each, some cardboard cake bases, some Wilton gel colors, and some icing bags. By the way, if you shop at Michael's, download their app. They have coupons you can use right off your phone. I had one for 40% off all bakeware and another for 40% off one item. They knocked almost $30 off the final bill!
After I finally made it home, and after we recovered from our pernil, yellow rice and beans induced coma, we got Olivia to bed and got cracking on the cakes. Annie was kind enough to help with the baking so I could do some frosting planning. Yes, I had to plan out the steps on graph paper because if you're going to be a nerd, go all out at it!
We made two pans of chocolate cake and one pan of yellow cake because Wil wanted to make sure his friends that didn't like chocolate had options. He's a pretty sweet kid.
Next, I had to make the frosting. I counted about 10-12 colors so I decided to make three batches of Wilton Buttercream Icing. This is my favorite and is extremely easy to make, especially if you have a Kitchen Aid mixer. (Three batches ended up being too much, I probably could have made two work but I didn't want to run out in the middle of decorating.)
I then colored the icing using Wilton gel colors. These are very easy to use and make brilliant, consistent colors. Three shades of gray, three of pink and three of green, plus white.
Next, I laid out the cupcakes and started frosting. I used a variety of tips because I didn't have 9 identical tips for the icing bags. No biggie...i planned on using a small frosting spatula to smooth the squares out.
I want to pause a moment to give credit to one of my favorite assistants. He has been with me from the very beginning, but in many different forms. I never even attempt to decorate a cake without him. He is my good friend, beer. He makes all things better. Tonight, I had Blue Light in a Jim Craig Can. Life was pretty good.
Ok, I finished the Zombie Pig Man thing first. I followed my instructions, each pixel was colored correctly, the cakes were well aligned...and it still didn't look like anything other than pixelated vomit. I used Hershey's chocolate bars for the eyes and mouth and still...nothing. But it DID look like the picture from the Google, so whatever. It's what he wanted, that weird, disturbed child.
Next I had to do the creeper, but luckily I had enough of the green from the thing above to do the thing below. I didn't have to make and color any more frosting! Sweet! Come celebrate with me like it was 1980, Jim...he always seems to get me. Ok, here's the Creeper:
Well, clean up can wait until morning. We're going to bed!