Thursday, April 7, 2011

Ninjago Cake Walkthrough

So here's how I made the Lego Master Wu Ninjago cake... follies and all. As I said before I was inspired by these two cakes I had seen online: Ninjago Cake with Spinner and the Lego Chocolate Mold. I couldn't find any place to buy the lego cake mold online- apparently it isn't available in the US anymore- but after a quick plea to my Facebook friends I found a friend who had one and was happy to loan it out.

I started WAY early so I wouldn't feel rushed. I made the cakes a few weeks ahead of time and stuck them in the freezer. I made the chocolate guy throughout the week before the party. The day before the party I focused on putting the cake together and that took a LONG time. More on that later.

To make Sensei Wu I got melting chocolate from the local Decorette Shop and painted in the yellow parts, then the white. I kept one half hollow and another one I filled in with white chocolate to make it solid. I figured two hollow ones would be too difficult to line up perfectly. As it was I broke one hollow one and had just enough chocolate to make a second hollow one. The head broke off on the second one, but I was able to repair it and use a rope of fondant to cover the cracks. Two solids would probably work better, but thats a lot of chocolate!

I used the stove to heat a knife and blend the edges so it looked fairly seamless. I wish I had been more careful handling him, since he had such a lovelt plastic-looking shine when he first came out of the mold. Oh well. I also used melted chocolate to fill in the eyes since I wanted to paint them on to look more like Sensei Wu. The picture below is mid-smoothing. I stood it up in a bowl and poured a little melted chocolate in the bottom to make a base.

They have cool food markers that you can use to write on chocolate or fondant or both (make sure you know which you are getting!) I got a black one for the eyes and belt. I painted on chocolate food coloring (different than regular food coloring) for the design on his shirt but I would recommend adding chocolate or using the markers for this bit since the straight food coloring directly on the chocolate didn't set and later when I went to pick it up it smeared. It was salvageable, but would have been better had I used a marker. I used white chocolate to paint on the eyebrows.

For the beard I used gum paste and laid the beard out on the opposite side of the mold to harden so it would match the shape of the chocolate face. I used royal icing to stick it to the face.

I made the hat out of gum paste with food coloring mixed in. Actually, I made 3 different hats. The first one was great- plain white gum paste with little sticks of rolled gum paste for the lines. When they dried they all fell off and the hat ended up cracking. The second I made by making indents instead of sticks and after it dried I tried painting a little water with food coloring on top of it- looked beautiful, but got sticky. When I went to remove it from the mold it stuck to the mold. So then I made the one below by mixing the food coloring in first, then rolling it and putting it on saran wrap over the mold. I also put some oil on the saran wrap so it would come off nicely. It took too long to dry (after the two foiled attempts this was the day before the party, I think) and was too thin in spots and broke. With no time to make another one, I went back to the second one that was stuck to the cardboard and tried to cut the cardboard off. I got about half of it off and was not happy with being able to see the cardboard under the hat. I'm sure nobody noticed (and I took the hat off at one point) but next time I would do it the third way and just allow time for it to dry, or find another way to paint the hardened gum paste that will not cause it to get sticky and soften.

OK, so then I started the cake. I was so happy with how Sensei Wu turned out, but I was nervous about the cake- and rightly so! I was trying to save time by using a box cake mix. It was light and fluffy and delicious, but because it was light and fluffy it didn't carve very well and the fondant was too heavy for it. In retrospect I should have either used a pound cake, or other more dense cake, or simply omitted the fondant and gone with buttercream alone. Oh! And I should have just bought a 16" or 18" round cake pan and saved myself the trouble of carving a circle out of rectangle cakes!

So, lessons learned. I cut the cake into different pieces around a foam piece that I bought at the decorette shop and cut in half. Then I piped buttercream around the edge to make a barrier for the strawberry filling, and added the top cake pieces. So far so good.

I used buttercream frosting and put down a crumb coat (very thin layer to adhere to the fondant) Oh! I made a few holes in the styrafoam so I could pour white chocolate inside and under Sensei Wu to make him stay standing up.

Rolled out the fondant- I have used Satin Ice both times I've worked with fondant and it actually tastes pretty good. I've heard marshmallow fondant is good too, if you want to make your own.

Placed it on the cake and squish! the nice clean edges sunk down and the cake kind of fell out the bottom. It looked pretty bad. I wasn't sure how to salvage it or cover it up until my husband suggested that putting a bunch of legos around the base of the cake would hide it. Voila! Still lumpy, and not the smooth spinner I had envisioned, but it worked.

I made chocolate covered oreos for the dots. You could probably just put oreos under the fondant but I was afraid it would tear and I thought it looked just fine placing the oreos on top. I used Royal Icing to stick them on.

Colored white chocolate and edible markers to draw on the birthday cakes. I poured white chocolate in the holes on the foam so they were overflowing, then set Sensei Wu on top and poured more white chocolate over. Once it hardened he was pretty sturdy.

So there you have it! I'm sticking with animal cupcakes for his sisters birthday this month, but I'm already wondering what next years cake will be.


India said...

This is freaking incredible! Congratulations! Please don't show this to my kids.

Jules said...

AWESOME! quick tip for bringing back the shine, carefully take a hairdryer to him!