Thursday, September 26, 2013

Surprise Inside Cake - Mini Skeletons


It's never too early to get some practice in for Halloween!!!


You've probably already seen these tiny bone sprinkles around for several years now. I don't recall ever seeing the skulls.

If I did, MY head wasn't in it at the time and I just walked on right by. But one day not too long ago, I was in my favorite new baking supply store and mixed in with all of the fun Halloween pans and purple/lime/orange/black sprinklewere these wee little heads. Right next to the bones which were right next to the coffin pans. Which is how it should be.

The name of the store is GYGI (pronounced, "Ghee, Ghee") and it's like a kitchen store on steroids. If you're ever in the area, you simply must plan a few hours minutes to drool. Take a cloth. It's that bad good.
On some of the packaging Wilton calls them "Jumbo" but jumbo they are not. See how little they are?

I picked up one container each of the bones and heads and home I went to play forensic anthropologist. Or something like that. No lab coat or anything. Not even an apron. Armed only with sheer guts and a small polka dot knife.


It wasn't long before I'd arranged the pieces into this cute little guy. No rib cage but he stands tall just the same. I think I was happiest with the bow tie. Until I cut a bone in half to make the hands. Ta Da! Hello there Mr. Bones!

He looks right at home in Wilton's coffin pan . . .
. . . but it only makes 6 treats at a time. He also needs a third bone in his spine to make him taller and more to scale. Note that he has 2 leg bones instead of one. To give him a leg up on the competition. Okay. Lame. Well he's not lame. Technically he's dead. Moving on . . . 
Six treats are not a problem if you're making chocolate Rice Krispie Treats where half or more of the batter isn't setting about while you bake but not so great if you just mixed up an entire cake mix.  (UPDATE: I've had pretty good luck baking the remaining batter even though it's set around a while. Cover it and pop it in the frig until you're ready to fill the pans again.) This pan would be great for a small gathering or family dessert where you only need to make six of something.
I opted for a shorter fatter coffin cookie cutter from Wiltons' Vampire set and baked the cake in thin layers in 2 jelly roll pans which gave me 21-22 treats. You could use this same idea for cookies or brownies without too many alterations.


Dig in!


Surprise Inside Skeletons
Yield 21 mini cakes
(2) 12 x 17 x 1 inch jellyroll pans
Paring knife
Coffin cookie cutter (3.5 inches tall x 2 inches wide at fattest point) 
Baking parchment to fit jellyroll pans
Small offset spatula
Small bowl of water
Paper towels
Small art paint brush
Piping bag with #3 round tip
Cooling rack 12 x 17 for decorating
Small bowls for candy parts (optional)

Chocolate cake mix plus oil, water and eggs per package
(2) 16 oz cans chocolate frosting
Baking spray with flour
Wilton Bone Sprinkles (3.53 oz/100g) (21 uses slightly less than half of the container)
Wilton Skull Sprinkles (3.5 oz/99g) (21 doesn't even put a noticeable dent in the container)
Frosting, fondant, gummy worms, cookie headstones, cookie crumbs for decorating

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray the pans with non-stick baking spray. Line the pans with parchment and spray a second time.

Prepare cake mix as directed on package. Divide batter evenly between the pans and smooth to a thin even layer using the offset spatula.
Bake for 6 minutes watching closely and turning pans at 3 minutes for even baking. Dampen enough paper towels to cover each pan.
Remove pans from oven and immediately press the damp paper towels on the top of each pan to flatten the layers.
Use the bottom of the pans to help level. This just takes a couple of seconds when the cakes are hot.
Set aside pans to cool completely.


While cakes are cooling, cut 21 bones in half with the paring knife.
Separate 21 white skulls from the container.
Fill the piping bag with chocolate frosting.

Invert the cooled baked layers onto clean parchment sheets. Cut 21 shapes from each layer (3 rows of 7) with the coffin cookie cutter.
Save the remaining crumbs for decorating the grave yard to look like freshly dug graves if desired.

Set the cut shapes onto parchment lined jellyroll pans and it's on to the good stuff . . . 



Trial run: place one set of the bones in place on top of one of the coffin shapes or inside the coffin cookie cutter in order to learn the spacing and angles of the bones.
Use this as your temporary pattern.

Fill a small bowl with water.
Dampen paint brush as needed and wipe excess off on paper towel to remove any frosting smudges from the bones as you work. But only if you're a bit messy like I am.

Pipe small dots of chocolate frosting onto the coffin shapes for the head and bow tie and attach them to the dots.

Pipe a small line for the center of the skeleton, about 1 1/4" long or the length of 3 bones. Attach the bones to the line.

Pipe small segments for the arms and dots for the hands and attach the bones to the dots.

Pipe an upside down "V" for the legs, starting at the center of the lowest center bone. Attach legs.

Pipe 2 segments for the feet and attach them. Legs and feet will resemble a loose "W"shape.

Repeat 20 times, leaving half of the cut coffin shapes plain to be used as the lids.
Pipe a small border around the edge of the coffin and set the lids over the assembled skeletons. Freeze until firm for decorating ease.


Place the frozen coffins on the cooling rack over the jellyroll pan to catch the excess frosting as it drips.


Heat the remaining chocolate frosting in the microwave until pourable.
Time varies by microwave but in mine the time was about 2 minutes total at 40% power, one minute at a time.
Tap the frosting bowl on the counter to remove bubbles. Spoon the frosting over the tops of the coffins and down the sides.
Repeat until a smooth finish is achieved. Reuse and reheat the frosting drippings as needed.

Transfer the coffins to their resting place and decorate the exteriors as desired.

Here are just a few of the many possibilities:
- Use gray frosting to write funny sayings on cookie headstones
- Arrange the coffins in a graveyard setting using the leftover cake crumbs as fresh dirt
- Add gummy worms, bats, spiders, ghosts, witches and cats to dress up the scene
- Use fondant or modeling chocolate and the coffin cookie cutter to cut lids for the coffins   
  and cut strips to form the sides for a more finished look

Some funny headstone ideas I found online:
          Theo Later
          U.R. Gone
          I.M. Goner
          Ray N. Carnation
          Dustin T. Dust
          Lev Itation
          G.I. Miss You
          Trudy Departed
          Rust N. Peace
          Rest N. Pieces
          I.L. Beback
          M.T. Tomb
          Underneath Lies Mr. Jones, Sadly now a bag of bones

Happy Haunting!!!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

What's Up Mummy?

(Blog post title is one of my daughter's favorite telephone greetings when we chat.)

This cute little mummy cake was inspired by a cookie or cake decoration in the background of a Wilton book a few years ago. He's only about 10" tall. Well, 11" with his bandages on. I liked the way he turned out except for the thickness of his gauze. Being fairly new to fondant and cake decorating at the time, I hadn't learned enough or experimented enough to work with thinner bands with any confidence. So although I'd make him a bit differently today, he still passes the cuteness factor test for design.

I used a gingerbread man type shape for his body, added his black face and eyes and then covered him with bandages. He was pretty heavy after all that fondant! Yet still a light weight in the scary division. If you're looking for a more friendly skeleton this Halloween, you may want to give him a try.

Happy Haunting!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Chocolate Candy Acorns

Fall is upon us. Just ask my blistered hands after 3 hours of raking leaves this morning. And scooping fallen acorns from the ponds. Where were my gloves?

Since our "yard" is mostly oak trees, the acorns are EVERYWHERE right now. Here's a shot of some of them ripening before they took the leap.


These cute little guys inspired me to try a sweeter version.


This is the first attempt. Took just a couple of minutes to see if it would work and then I made these for you.


They are super easy and fast to make. And did I mention yummy? I thought they looked pretty nice and could add a sophisticated element to any fall gathering. I plan to use them on a fall inspired cake. We'll see how that goes . . . 
(UPDATE: you can see the cake I used them on here.)

They would also look adorable as a cupcake or brownie topper. Or how about or dressing up a simple fall dessert serving by placing one or two on that plate? Can't wait to see where your imagination takes you!

So, have you figured out what they are made with yet?

Harvest Peanut m&ms
and Tootsie Rolls.
Told you it was easy. And fast.

Here's how:

Chocolate Candy Acorns
Deborah Stauch

Makes about 75.

Note: The m&ms can be substituted with chocolate covered almonds although they are a bit more costly than the candies.
If you're not a Tootsie Roll fan, try caramels or pre-made caramel apple sheets as an alternate.
For fun brightly colored acorns, use regular colors of peanut m&ms and Starburst candies.

One 12.60 ounce package Harvest Blend Peanut m&ms
One 3.73 ounce package Tootsie Roll Midgees (about 17 per King Size pkg, only 13 needed)

Paring knife with sharp pointed end

Wash and dry hands thoroughly. Do I need to say that? Just a friendly reminder since this is a hands on project.
Separate m&ms and set aside and yellow and red candies for snacking. You should have about 75 rust and brown candies remaining.
Unwrap 12 of the Tootsie Rolls.


1.  Cut the Tootsie Rolls into 6 equal segments by slicing the log in half and cutting each half into thirds.

2.  Not really shown in the photo but . . . using the warmth of your hands, roll each segment into a ball.

3.  Flatten each ball into a disk about 3/4" in diameter. Adjust the size if needed for any smaller m&ms. A smooth surface like a tile or granite countertop is great for this. Waxed paper can also be used as a non-stick surface. Use the paring knife to score criss-cross lines across the top of each disk, about 8-10 lines in each direction. Use the flat blade of the paring knife to loosen and release the disk if needed.

4 - 5.  Unwrap one Tootsie Roll and slice in half. You can eat the other half if you're hungry about now. Roll the cut half into a long, narrow rope about 1/8" - 1/4" in diameter. Slice the rope into tiny segments. The segments should be no larger than 1/4" since it just takes a tiny amount to form the stems.

6.  Look for the fatter end of the m&m. This will be the top or cap end.

7.  Attach the scored disks to the tops of the m&ms. The stickiness of the candy will act as the glue but if you're having trouble, use a tiny piece of Tootsie Roll as adhesive. Center the disk over the top of the m&m and use your fingertips to gently form the cap to the candy. Try not to press or rub so much as to remove the criss-cross pattern.

8.  Pierce a small hole in the top of the cap with the sharp end of the paring knife, puncturing the Tootsie Roll, not the m&m. Roll one of the tiny segments into a stem shape in the palm of your hand. Place one end of the stem inside the hole and press very gently. The stem will adhere best when the hole is freshly cut and the stem is still slightly tacky and warm from being formed.

9. Repeat 74 times or until you have enough acorns for whatever project you want to use them for.

 Enjoy your tiny treasures and the splendor of Fall!