12/10/08

Unleash your Inner Jimi Hendrix...

...or Eddie Van Halen...Jimmy Page...Carlos Santana...Thumper?
The crowd roars! Thumper it is.
Without further ado, I give you our newest Guitar Hero: Thumper!



Between Thumper and his sister they have a total of 6 (not all pictured) guitars in their possession.



Oddly enough, that's not what our rocker dude has been favoring lately. Granted, his ability to play an actual guitar is still in the embryonic stages. But, the dexterity in his fingers hovering over the --made in China-- stringless guitar makes this groupie squeal with utter delight. So much so, I baked him a cake.
Motherly? You bet. But, my offerings featured dark chocolate cake, chocolate flames, and a guitar facsimile made entirely of sugar, which he was encouraged to break into smithereens, after his concert performance.



The design was very simple, because the chocolate flames set up quickly, and the cake was simply iced in buttercream. Since the cake was covered with chocolate flames, it did not need to be iced perfectly smooth. Get thee behind me Martha!

Not to mention I only had one day to make this cake. Yes, desperate times call for desperate deeds...done dirt cheap. Any AC/DC fans out there?

You could forgo the buttercream, and use rolled fondant for the cake and royal icing for the flames. I chose buttercream because my dear husband has this silly notion that fondant and royal icing should be relegated to minor household repairs.
I tend to disagree. Besides, I have a feeling that someday, he'll learn to like fondant, and all it's gonna take is a gentle thwack of my cast iron pan upside his mangy little head.

In any event, the cake consisted of 4 layers, 2 - 8" layers, and 2 - 7" layers, all torted. I wanted a bit of a ledge, if you will, to support the massive wall of chocolate flames made to wrap around the cake.
For the flames, I melted 1½ pounds of white chocolate, and tinted it with a small amount of yellow paste food coloring. Using a dessert spoon I picked up a small blob of chocolate and dropped it onto parchment paper. I then used the tip of the spoon to quickly drag the melted chocolate to an irregular point.

Btw, roughly calculating the height of the assembled cake before making the flames --like I did-- is strictly prohibited. Please, carefully measure your torted and stacked tiers to determine the size needed for the flames on your cake. Keep in mind that at least half the flames should extend a bit beyond the height of your cake.

Once the chocolate flames were firm, I lightly airbrushed their edges in red. Don't worry if you don't have an airbrush. Brushing the flames with petal dust in the appropriate color will give you the same effect.



The pattern for the guitar was drawn freehand onto poster board, and cut out with an x-acto knife. The pattern was then placed onto thinly rolled pastillage (pastillage is a sugar based, modeling medium that dries faster and stronger than gum paste) and cut out. Once dried, the guitar was also airbrushed.

Again, if you don't own an airbrush, simply paint the guitar with paste (or powder) food coloring combined with clear alcohol, such as Gin, Vodka or Everclear. Lemon and Almond Extracts also work very well.

Because Thumper does not appreciate biting into a piece of chalky pastillage, the letters were cut out of green Tootsie Rolls, using mini-alphabet cookie cutters. Incidentally, you could use any malleable candy available in your area, such as Edo Candy Dough or Starburst candies.




The following chocolate cake is the birthday boy's favorite*

Chocolate Sour Cream Cake

4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
2 cups granulated sugar
1½ cups cake flour
¾ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup hot strong brewed coffee**
½ cup sour cream
½ cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 2 - 8-inch round cake pans with parchment paper. Melt the chocolate in the top of a double boiler, over simmering water. Or melt in the microwave, checking and stirring often, until almost melted. Remove and set aside, the residual heat will melt the chocolate completely by the time you're ready to use it.

Sift the sugar, flour, baking soda and salt together into a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk the hot coffee, sour cream and vegetable oil until blended.
With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the coffee mixture to the dry ingredients and mix until blended. Stop to scrape down the bowl several times while mixing.
Add the lightly beaten eggs, one at a time, and mix on medium-low speed until smooth, 10-15 seconds. Scrape the bowl each time. Add the melted chocolate and mix until combined.

Divide the batter evenly between prepared pans and place them on the center rack of the oven.
Bake until a tester comes out dry, 35 to 38 minutes. Cool the layers in the pan for about 15 minutes, remove from the pans and cool completely on a rack before icing the cake.
Yields: 12 to 16 servings. Adapted from Rosy's Bakery All-Butter, Fresh Cream, Sugar-Packed Baking Book.

* I prepared two separate batches for the birthday cake.
** I used instant espresso, Medaglia D' Oro.




Well, looks like visiting hours are over. Crank up your ovens, my friends.