Despite frustrations at 11pm the night before the littlest birthday party, the penguin birthday cake turned out much cuter than I thought it would. Levi was super excited about his birthday cake and showed it off to all his guests. The reason for the frustration was the black covering. I decided to try something new because my last attempt at black frosting was a dyed-mouth disaster.
I am jumping ahead in the process of how to make this delicious birthday cake, below you will find the steps to creating a fabulous cake. I apologize for not taking more pictures during the process, I didn’t realize till later on that I should blog about and share this birthday cake with you all.
The first step is to make the cake layers, I needed two 9 inch and two 8 inch round layers. I used my favorite chocolate cake recipe, which is actually supposed to be made in a bundt pan. It is a moist cake that isn’t too dense, but is rich in a milk chocolate flavor. The original recipe is from Two Peas and Their Pods. My changes to the recipe include: using regular cocoa, reducing the sugar content and splitting the recipe between two pans.
For the penguin, I made this recipe twice in order to have the four layers required for the height of the penguin. For the bottom two layers, I turn them upside down when cooling in order to get a more level top when layering. They can be quite fluffy, so I do have to use a bread knife and cake spinner to level the cakes. My boys love eating the extra cake tops.[/ezcol_1third_end]
While the cake layers are chilling in the fridge, the next step is to make the filling so that the cake stays together. Before, you layer your cakes up, you will might have to level the tops so that your cake isn’t to unstable. Levi really like the cheese cream frosting on the chocolate cupcakes I made for another event, so I decided to use that for two of the layers.
I made a raspberry filling layer for the middle of the cake. To ensure that the raspberry filling doesn’t run everywhere, first pipe a ring of the cream cheese frosting around the edge of the layer to act as a seal. This raspberry campote made the cake deliciously over the top. It had the right amount of tartness that blended perfectly with the sweetness of the cake. The boys insisted on having this layer when we were trying to finish up the left-over cake.
The cake will not look pretty at this point. If you are making the penguin domed shape, you will need to shave the top couple of layers. I used a large bread knife and my cake spinner to edge around the top layer. The third layer also needs to be trimmed to round it out with the top two layers.
[ezcol_2third]The next step is to slightly frost the cake so the outer layer has something less crumbly to adhere to. I didn’t know if my outer black layer was going to be tasty or not, so I wanted to make sure there was a yummy frosting layer around the cake. I also knew the outer layer was going to be quite sweet, so instead of making another batch of cream cheese frosting, I decided to use a swiss meringue buttercream frosting. It is the same frosting that I used on my first chocolate cupcake recipe. After frosting, make sure to place in the fridge to solidify the frosting.
Side note: Don’t halve the swiss meringue buttercream recipe because as you can see in the picture, it wasn’t as smooth as it should be. The proportions were not quite right. However, I knew it was going to be covered, so the look didn’t really matter for this project.[/ezcol_2third] [ezcol_1third_end][/ezcol_1third_end]
This was the scary step that occurred way too late in the evening. Penguins are black and dying frosting to a black, not navy color is hard. I could have bought black fondant, but I detest fondant because even though it looks nice, it tastes awful. So while in Michael’s, I noticed that they sell black candy melts. My penguin shape is similar to a large cake pop, so I thought that maybe I could pour the melted candy over the cake to create a nice smooth finish. I read that it is recommended to melt the candy melts with some shortening to make the melted candy more of a ganache. I added one tablespoon… it wasn’t enough. When I poured the melted candy on the cake, it hardened way too fast. I could spread it around for a bit, but not fast enough to apply it all and make a smooth finish. I tried to take it off, it wouldn’t budge without wrecking the whole cake. So, I went with it and decided that the penguin would have texture and that it didn’t need to be smooth. The outer black layer was extremely solid, but it actually tasted really good. It tasted like sweet chocolate chunks.
The finishing touch of adding the body, face and flippers redeemed the appearance of the cake. I used modeling chocolate to create the design. Modeling chocolate needs to be made the night before, so technically this should be step one in the process. I followed the recipe for making modeling chocolate from candy melts as described on the blog, Roxy’s Kitchen. However, to make colored modeling chocolate, I just work some gel food coloring through the white chocolate. Modeling chocolate is made from melting a bag of candy melts (or real chocolate) and mixing in a 1/2 cup of light corn syrup. It will seize and be grainy at first, but with some kneading it will have the consistency of thick smooth play dough. It is easy to mold and roll out. It doesn’t taste great. I don’t recommend eating it.
And that’s a wrap. This reads a lot more difficult than it actually was to make the birthday cake. It just takes a bit of planning and prep work, but it all worth it to see the smiles of the kiddo’s while they eat it.
To see the decorations for the party, see the my other blog post; Penguin Birthday Party.