Monster Cake

monster cake header

It’s the first Halloween post of the season!  And yes, we are starting with the easiest, but I wanted to make sure A) the post got done and B) you could make these delicious little monsters for your own spooky (or simply fun) Halloween bash!

Thanks to everyone who participated in the polls on Instagram and Twitter this last week!  Even though the results were overwhelmingly in favor of allowing me to use purple coloring as my Monster Extract, I’ve decided on a compromise.  I’ll do half the recipes with naturally occurring purple coloring from the ingredients I use.  And for those recipes that need a little extra help I’ll add actual Monster Extract i.e. purple coloring.  Sound good?  Sound like a nice compromise?  I hope so, because it’s already happening.

Monster Cakemonster cake meter

We are going to start with the tempered chocolate.  Confession: I’ve never tempered chocolate before.  And not only have I never done it before, I just had to start with the most difficult chocolate to temper – white chocolate.  Oh well.  Prep by inserting a piping bag with a medium round tip (#10 Wilton is what I used) into a cup and wrapping the top of the bag around the edges.  It’ll be easier than trying to fill a bag in your hand.  Lay a piece of parchment paper out on the counter, and get ready to melt some chocolate!

We temper chocolate by using a candy thermometer and a water bath to gently melt the chocolate to the perfect temperature.  Start by splitting the white chocolate into two bowls – about 75% into a stainless steel bowl and 25% into any other bowl.  Bring 2 inches of water to a boil in any old pot, place the stainless steel bowl over the top, add the gel food coloring, and attach the candy thermometer.  Now, two things.  First, we MUST use gel food coloring.  If you add any amount of water to the chocolate it’ll seize up and be unusable.  And second, you’ll need to make sure the tip of the thermometer is in the chocolate BUT NOT touching the bottom.  If the tip is touching the bowl it’ll register the temperature of the bowl, NOT the chocolate.  We need to know the temperature of the chocolate.

seed the chocolate

Once it’s inserted correctly gently stir to melt the chocolate evenly until the temperature of the chocolate reads 110°F.  Quickly remove the bowl from the pot and add a few morsels of chocolate.  Stir until completely dissolved, read the temperature, and add more chocolate.  We need to use this “seed” method to bring the temperature of the chocolate down to 84°F.  This is the temperature at which the chocolate will still be shiny and not brittle.  Do it wrong, and you may have to start over.

When the chocolate reaches the correct temperature quickly add it to a piping bag and begin piping the chocolate into horn shapes on the parchment.  You’ll probably want them to be about 2 inches tall at the most – you don’t want them falling off the cakes!  Leave them on the parchment to cool and harden while we make the cake and frosting.  If you want to speed this up, yes, you can put it in the fridge.

Next – the cake!  And trust me when I say, the chocolate was the hardest part of this recipe.  The rest is… a piece of cake…

butter and sugar

Start by putting the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment (or a bowl with a hand mixer) and beat on medium until soft.  Add the sugar and beat on medium until fluffy and pale in color (about 2 minutes).  Next, add the eggs one at a time, beating on low until each egg is fully incorporated, then bring the speed up to medium for several seconds until homogeneous.

dry ingredients

The next part is the trickiest with the cake.  Add all the dry ingredients to a bowl and either sift or, if you’re like me and don’t have a sifter, whisk until they’re fully mixed.  Then, slowly and with the mixer off (trust me on this one) add 1/3 of the dry ingredient mixture to the stand mixer.  Mix on low until fully mixed.  Then add 1/2 of the buttermilk to the bowl and mix on low until incorporated.  Add the remaining 1/3 dry, 1/2 buttermilk, 1/3 dry and mix fully between each step.

Butter and lightly flour a sheet cake pan (18 x 26 inches with a 1 inch lip).  Add all the cake batter to the pan and smooth with a spatula.  It looks like a lot, I know, but this cake doesn’t actually rise a lot – it’s a pretty dense version of a blackout cake.  Place in the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until a toothpick/cake tester comes out clean when inserted into the center.  Put aside and cool completely.

While the cake is either baking or cooling, let’s make the buttercream!  Now, for ease, I always make an American buttercream.  It’s much easier, doesn’t require any cooking, but is sweeter than your other versions.  I have found, with cakes, at least, that sweeter isn’t a bad thing.  Particularly because I prefer my cakes less sweet, so the balance works nicely.

Wash and blend or mash with a potato masher or fork all the blackberries.  Add the butter and powdered sugar to a bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment (or, again, a bowl with a hand mixer) and beat on low until the butter and powdered sugar have come slightly together.  Add 3/4 of the blackberry puree to the bowl and beat on low until the mixture comes together and there’s no more dry powdered sugar.  Beat on medium, check the consistency of the buttercream, and add more blackberries as needed to reach the right consistency.  You’ll want the frosting to hug a spoon or spatula and not slip or fall when held upside down (called a medium consistency).  This will ensure the frosting is thick enough to hold your cakes steady.

proper frosting consistency

Once the cakes are completely cooled, cut out each shape with a 3 inch round cutter.  Now, here’s where I’m going to suggest you do something different than I did.  In the pictures the cakes are overwhelmingly tall in comparison with the frosting layer.  Which is fine!  But if I were to make these for myself and my own party, instead of stacking two heavy pieces of cake together, I’d simply cut each round in half, fill the center, and stack them together again.  That way the frosting can actually hold up the top layer properly and no one gets a giant piece of cake there’s no way they could actually eat it.  Besides, by cutting it you’ll double the amount of cakes you’ll get – making this recipe way more feasible (you’ll get about 15 cakes instead of 7-8).

So, slice each cake in half or, if the warning wasn’t enough, place two whole rounds together.   Fill a piping bag fit with a large flower tip (or star tip) with frosting, and pipe rosettes around each of the bottom pieces of cake.  To pipe a rosette simply pipe a fat star about 1/3 inch above the center of the cake then pipe a swirl around the outside of the cake.  Do it in one motion to make a nice rosette or two separate motions because no one will see it, anyway.  For a good video, see the Wilton tutorial here.

Layer the top portion of the cake onto the frosting-covered bottom and pipe another rosette on the top layer, continuing the swirl all around in ever-decreasing circles to get a nice swirl.  Again, a great Wilton tutorial can be found here.

Add your monster horns by gently pressing them into the cupcake swirl and really impress your friends for that Halloween party!  These are best eaten the same day or stored in the fridge for a few days.

Link’s Monster Cake recipe:

    • Tabantha Wheat
    • Cane Sugar
    • Goat Butter
    • Monster Extract

Monster Cake

  • Servings: 15 3 inch cakes
  • Difficulty: moderately easy
  • Print

A chocolate cake layered with blackberry buttercream and topped with white chocolate horns

Recipe adapted from Devil’s Food Layer Cake by Elizabeth Pruitt from Tartine

Cake

  • 1 3/4 C all-purpose flour
  • 4 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/4 cups cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup butter, softened at room temperature
  • 2 3/4 cups sugar
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups buttermilk

White

  • 12 ounces white chocolate (morsels or baking chocolate)
  • 1/8 teaspoon purple GEL food coloring

Blackberry

  • 2 cups butter, at room temperature
  • 7 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 cup blackberries, washed and pureed

Directions

  1. Prepare a piping bag by inserting a medium round tip (#10 Wilton or similar). Place the bag in a cup, wrapping the top of the bag around the outside of the cup. Lay a piece of parchment paper out on the counter.
  2. Split the white chocolate into two bowls – 75% into a stainless steel bowl and 25% into any other bowl.
  3. Bring 2 inches of water to a boil in a pot. When the water is lightly boiling, place the stainless steel bowl over the top, add the gel food coloring, and attach the candy thermometer. Ensure the tip of the thermometer is in the chocolate not touching the bowl.
  4. Gently stir the melting chocolate until even and the temperature reads 110°F.  5. Quickly remove the bowl from the pot and add a few morsels of chocolate.  Stir until completely dissolved, read the temperature, and add more chocolate. Continue adding and melting chocolate until the temperature reads 84°F. This is the temperature at which the chocolate will still be shiny and not brittle.
  5. When the chocolate reaches the correct temperature quickly add it to a piping bag and pipe the chocolate into horn shapes, 2 inches tall, on the parchment. Leave them on the parchment to cool and harden or put it in the fridge.
  6. Pre-heat the oven to 350°F and butter and flour a sheet cake pan (18 x 26 inches with a 1 inch lip)
  7. Add the butter to the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment (or a bowl with a hand mixer) and beat on medium until soft.
  8. Add the sugar and beat on medium until fluffy and pale in color (about 2 minutes).
  9. Add the eggs one at a time, beating on low until each egg is fully incorporated, then bring the speed up to medium for several seconds until homogeneous.
  10. Add all the dry ingredients to a new bowl and whisk until they’re fully mixed.
  11. With the mixer off add the flour mixture in 3 equal batches alternately with the buttermilk in 2 equal batches. You should start and end with flour mixture.
  12. Add all the cake batter to the pan and smooth with a spatula. Place in the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until a toothpick/cake tester comes out clean when inserted into the center.  Put aside and cool completely.
  13. To make the butter cream first wash and blend or mash with a potato masher or fork all the blackberries.
  14. Add the butter and powdered sugar to a bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment (or, again, a bowl with a hand mixer) and beat on low until the butter and powdered sugar have come slightly together.
  15. Add 3/4 of the blackberry puree to the bowl and beat on low until the mixture comes together and there’s no more dry powdered sugar. Beat on medium, check the consistency of the buttercream, and add more blackberries as needed to reach the right consistency. You’ll want the frosting to hug a spoon or spatula and not slip or fall when held upside down (called a medium consistency).  This will ensure the frosting is thick enough to hold your cakes steady.
  16. Once the cakes are completely cooled, cut out each shape with a 3 inch round cutter.
  17. In order to maximize the amount of cakes you get and to realistically frost and present the cakes cut each round in half lengthwise, dividing each round into 2 equal pieces.
  18. Fill a piping bag fit with a large flower tip (or star tip) with frosting, and pipe rosettes around each of the bottom pieces of cake. Do this by piping a fat star about 1/3 inch above the center of the cake then pipe a swirl around the outside of the cake. Do it in one motion to make a true rosette or two separate motions because no one will see it, anyway.
  19. Layer the top portion of the cake onto the frosting-covered bottom and pipe another rosette on the top layer, continuing the swirl all around in ever-decreasing circles to get a nice swirl.
  20. Add your monster horns by gently pressing them into the cupcake swirl and really impress your friends for that Halloween party! These are best eaten the same day or stored in the fridge for a few days

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