Monday, February 27, 2012

My Daughter's Cookie Monster Birthday Cake

It has almost been a month since my daughter's birthday party and I am just now getting this typed up.  I swear I am such a procrastinator.  Wanna know the proof?  I am typing this up when I should be doing homework, yep I'm that bad...but anyway, this isn't about me is it?  This is about the birth and the serious deformity of a beloved children's character all in the form of cake.

Here are some step by step pictures on how Cookie Monster was constructed, and what to make sure that you do not do that I did if you plan to replicate this!

We started out with two layers, a 10" and an 8".
I stacked the 8" round on top of the 10" off center so that the "backside" of the cake was flush and trimmed out a crescent shaped chunk that would later be Cookie's feet.  I did a base crumb coat of white buttercream.

  I then baked up the body portion using the Wilton Wonder Mold pan, and then stacked it up on top of the 8" round and crumb coated it as well.  I also drove a sharpened 3/8" dowel down through the top for structure and to help hold the head that will be molded rice cereal treat.

Make note of the cake cutoffs on the plate in the background, those trimmings will come in handy later, don't throw them out!
I then took and made rice cereal treat and using a 1qt glass pyrex bowl, molded the top and bottom of cookie monster's head.  Once they firmed up I put them on top of dowel that was left sticking up from the cake.

Sorry for the fridge pictures, it was a late night and I was just rushing to get this done!

This is where I skipped a major step that I never fully understood before...most people say to put royal icing over your rice cereal treats, or cover with fondant/gumpaste to help it stay together and in shape.  Well I didn't, but please TRUST ME when I say, do yourself the favor of using the royal icing or fondant/gumpaste....I will explain that lesson a little more later.

Using the bits of cereal treat that was trimmed out for the mouth and left over from molding the two halves, I made arms and secured them in place with icing and toothpicks.  I then used the bits of cake that was trimmed and built out the "neck" and then covered the whole cake with blue icing.  This does not need to be perfect because you will be piping hair all over anyway.  

This is about where I was in dire pain, I had a pinched nerve in my back that was killing me every step I took, and I was just pushing through the pain just trying to get it done, so I missed a few steps picture wise.  I trimmed out some black fondant for the mouth.  I molded two round white gumpaste eyes and using a small icing tip cut out two black pupils for them making sure that I attached them crooked like Cookie's, and then mounted them on some toothpicks.  (a trick I used to getting both eyeballs the same size was weighing out the pieces of paste on my kitchen scale).

I then began the tedious task of using the Wilton "Grass" tip (#234)  and proceeded to pipe hair all over the cake, covering every little nook and cranny.  It was very tedious and time consuming.  I found that filling up your bag with a lot of icing wasn't always the best idea as it tended to get too soft from the heat of my hands, but I welcomed the breaks, or at least I should say my HANDS welcomed the breaks!

But it was SO worth all the work, and he turned out super awesome!  I used some premade cookies to accentuate him and again, sorry for the fridge picture!  I was going to take the "perfect" picture at my daughters party once it was set up, and well this is where the royal icing comment from earlier comes into play....

First a little background knowledge, my poor daughter woke up with a 102 fever the day of her birthday.  She wasn't feeling sick any other way and was still running around crazy so we gave her some medicine and she chugged down some juice (maybe too much juice) and was already feeling a million times cooler.  We embarked to the park and were joking about all the funny looks my husband was getting with cookie monster on his lap.  Well long story short, my daughter got carsick, I was going as fast as I safely could to get to the park so when we arrived it was pretty much tend to her, the cake was placed on a picnic bench and since I was more worried about her I didn't immediately get a picture.  

I wish I had because the humidity was pretty high that day, and I found humidity and cereal treat don't mix well and it began to soften.  Poor Cookie was losing parts of his mouth, and soon enough looked as though he was going to lose his head!  It was as if he had leprosy, he was falling apart worse than a zombie haha! SO to avoid all that blue icing going everywhere and the horror of a "rolling cookie monster head" I preemptively removed it.  I felt the queen of hearts in Alice in Wonderland, but figured it was going to have to go anyway when we cut the cake, so it really wasn't a huge deal.  

If I had used the royal icing, or covered it in fondant/gumpaste and let it harden up, I never would have had this problem.  You live and learn I guess!  He at least was still delicious and everyone loved it.  My daughter had an awesome day and we got to spend a few hours with close friends and family eating some good food and cake, that is what a party is all about!  (I was also relieved it happened to a cake I made for myself, it's always good to use yourself as a guinea pig when you try new ideas!)

You can probably use this method to make Elmo, or a few other sesame street characters, or anything with the same body structure, just don't forget that royal icing or fondant/gumpaste!


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