Sunday, November 1, 2015

Facing My Fears...with Cake.

Guys, I'm in rough shape. When gently knocking on the door of 30, it's probably not the best idea to stay up until 2 a.m. eating cake and candy. I'm suffering from massive post traumatic dessert disorder today. Seven-year-old me would be so utterly disappointed in my lost ability to shovel cake and candy into my mouth with nary a care or a tummy ache. I've spent most of the morning and afternoon curled into a tiny ball of suffering and regret. I had no idea a sugar hangover was worse than an actual adult hangover. Time has surely betrayed me (how Shakespearean)! As I pontificate on whether or not it was worth it, I'm reminded of how good the cake tasted and that no matter how old you get, a Kit Kat bar most definitely can solve most, if not all, your problems. Did I need to eat approximately ten mini Kit Kat bars? No. Did I anyway? Yes. Because chocolate pairs extremely well with beer. I was also celebrating due to the fact that I spent six hours working on said cake that somehow later turned into rocks in my gut. Although the cake took forever to bake and decorate, it was fueled by my childlike glee over Halloween and desire to celebrate the hell out of it. At least seven-year-old me would still be really proud of that. I had a blast making bloody brain cupcakes and a graveyard cake, but I wanted to get even creepier with my piece de resistance. I had to reach deep within the depths of my soul to decide what scares the absolute crap out of me the most...and surprisingly, running out of cake or wine was not at the top of the list. Spiders were. Spiders always win the creepy, make you want to shower seventy times lottery.
I'm not sure whether to run away screaming or eat you. My work here is done.
A couple weeks ago during another one of our usual 40-50 m.p.h. "windy" days, a bunch of spiders were blown into town. How do I know this? Because they left thick, sticky strands of spiderwebs on EVERYTHING. Street lights, signs, trees, mailboxes, EVERYTHING. In what was a horror movie concept turned reality, I was left covered in web every time I wanted to walk my dogs. Doesn't that make you want to visit the Land of Enchantment? To burn it down? Yes. Yes it does. Hell, I even wanted to light myself on fire a few times. Needless to say, I wanted to turn this terrifying experience into art to process my feelings on the matter like any good artist/weirdo. This is where the cake comes in. Why is it polka dotted you ask? Because I like polka dots. Polka dots are in no way terrifying or make me want to set things ablaze. I was balancing my fears with my loves, and it turned out so prettily! Step into my office and I will show you how to make your very own polka dot cake!
Dear Lord I'm cheating for the third week in a row. I'd fire me if I was actually paid for any of this.
Yeah, we're doing the cake jacking thing again. You need two cakes for a polka dot cake to work out, obvs. You're also going to need a cake pop mold. Start by mixing the cake flavor/color you want for your polka dots. I used Devil's Food cake dyed black.
The Purple People Eater makes a rare appearance!
Once your cake batter is made, you're going to want to load it into a piping bag or a frosting gun to make your life easier. Spray a ton of Pam into both sides of the cake pop mold and then fill with batter.
This in no way looks edible.
You want to fill some of the molds all the way up, some halfway, and some barely at all. This way you have dots of varying sizes. Place into the oven at 350 for about 10-15 minutes. Take out of the oven and leave the top on for 5 minutes. Remove the top and let cool on a cooling rack for another 5 minutes before removing the pops. I repeated this process 2 more times to give me 60 pops. You won't use all of them in the cake; some of them you will need to create bodies for the spiders later on, and some of them you will eat because you need to "test" the quality of your cake pops.
Suddenly craving an orange creamsicle.
Once you've made all the cake pops, make the second cake batter. I used yellow cake and added in orange dye for this. Take a small amount of batter and plop into two greased cake pans. Then take varying sizes of cake pops and place into the orange batter:
End results are worth all these steps, I promise.
Top these pops with the rest of the orange batter:
Like so.
Then add another layer of random dots. I stuck a few to the sides of the pan as well by just dabbing a little batter on them and smooshing them into the side.
Which was both fun and messy.
Bake at 350 for about 35 minutes or until the toothpick test works in your favor. It will take a bit longer than package directions because of the added density of the cake pops. The batter will puff up and around the pops, so they don't dry out either. Winning!
Yes, there's always some kind of vodka on my kitchen counter. It's like playing Where's Waldo with these photos but significantly easier.
Let cool on a cooling rack in the pans for 10 minutes before removing and letting chill in the fridge or freezer depending on how impatient you are.
It's buttercream time!!
I used my favorite full buttercream recipe for this cake since I didn't need the frosting to be totally smoothed out and perfect. Gather up:
  • 2 softened sticks of butter (1 cup)
  • 4 cups of powdered sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsps of vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp of almond extract
  • 4 TBS of milk
Cream the butter for a few minutes before adding in the vanilla, almond, and 2 cups of powdered sugar. Blend and then scrape down the bowl. Add in 2 TBS of milk and mix. Add in the remaining sugar and blend and scrape. Finish up by adding in the last 2 TBS of milk.
Set aside a tiny bit of frosting and dye it red; set aside a larger portion of frosting and dye it black. We need this for the spiders and the middle layer of frosting. You'll also need some chocolate melts for the spiders, too. More on that later.
Add a nice thick layer of the black frosting on top of the bottom cake. Place the second tier on top and frost with the plain white frosting. I knew I was going to cover the cake in "web," so I didn't crumb coat.
This is what rebellion looks like.
Once the cake is frosted, place into the freezer for about 30 minutes. You want to freeze the buttercream so that you have a solid work space for the webbing. To make the web, melt a bowl of marshmallows in the microwave for 30 seconds. Stir like hell for about another 30 seconds, and then prepare to get stupid messy.

All in the name of art.
Take the spatula or spoon you've been stirring with, and plop it in the middle of the bowl of melted 'mallows. Pull up and away slowly to create a really long, thin strand of marshmallow creme. Use your hands now and take the strand and drape it randomly over the cake. You want to make a messy web, so use varying thickness of webbing placed randomly on the cake. This was SO STICKY but surprisingly a ton of fun. My husband watched me do this part, and I swear he was thisclose to jumping in and trying to do some himself. Marshmallows: fun for the whole family.
This is what my finished webbing looked like.
Honestly, I thought about calling it a day there. This looked really cool and creepy. I loved it. But I still needed to face my hairy, eight-legged fears, so it was spider making time.
Melt a little bit of chocolate and place it into a piping bag fitted with a small #2 or #3 tip. Draw spider legs of various sizes by simply piping backwards sevens all over the place on a sheet of Parchment paper with a baking sheet under it. Put this tray into the fridge to harden.
Remember those leftover cake pops you've been snacking on? Take a HUGE one and place it on the cake. Spread a little black frosting on top of it to create a glue for the spider legs. Place the hardened chocolate gently onto the frosting and into the spider webbing.

Finish the giant-ass terror that haunts your life and dreams by taking a smaller cake pop and cutting it in half. Place this up against the body, and you've got a head! You can leave the spider plain, or you can take the red frosting and pipe little dots for eyes and an hour glass on the body to make it a Black Widow. I used a #2 tip to do this.
Add as many spiders as you like in various sizes. I made a medium-sized spider by using a smaller cake pop for the body and piped a head on to it with the leftover black frosting in a piping bag with a #12 tip.
For the smaller spiders, I simply piped little mounds of black frosting for the heads and bodies.
And you're done! I was dying to see how the inside of this cake turned out. I had no idea that I could somehow increase my anticipation of Halloween night, but I achieved this feat the second I made this cake. The six hours of nonstop standing really paid off:
Spooky insides, too? I've really outdone myself here.
Cute, polka dotted, and covered in spiders. This cake was a crowd pleaser for sure. I knew it was good because a room full of drunk people didn't even make a single peep while they were eating it. Moments like this remind me why I like baking so much. I just want to feed the masses and make people have the warm fuzzies on the inside because of my cake. Honestly, for being an evil genius, it's a pretty noble cause to have. Perhaps I'm not as dark and twisty as I make myself out to be. Well, my stomach is definitely still dark and twisty today; even coming with a foot of sugar sends it into stabby convulsions. I'm realizing now why people say you can't have your cake and eat it, too. Or in my case, have your cake, 17 Kit Kats, a handful of potato chips, some Red Bull and eat it, too. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go eat some celery and reminisce upon the days when I could eat like a human garbage can and go run around for miles with literally no negative consequences. 'Til next time, my fellow eaters!
Always look for an adventure! Lara Croft Tomb Raider and Nathan Drake of Uncharted hope you all had a fun, safe, and sugary Halloween and a wonderful day of remembrance this Dia de los Muertos.

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