Men in Black, Strawberries in Cake, and Just Plain Saving the World.


I had a BBQ as well as a dinner approaching within the same week and felt it was an opportune time to try something new in my books.   I decided to make strawberry shortcake with chocolate buttercream icing – my own interpretation of the chocolate dipped strawberry.

As I gazed at my shelves, deciding which DVD to pop in for this momentous evening, it seemed most fitting that I put in Men in Black 2 (I dunno why, I just prefer it over MIB 1).

Why MIB 2?  Because Will Smith rocks, and baking while watching Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones shoot up aliens is always a guaranteed good time.

By the way, is anyone else super stoked for the new MIB3?

Once again, I found a strawberry shortcake recipe off allrecipes.com.  I liked how the recipe calls not just for real strawberries, but also strawberry gelatin, which I think was great idea to make it more strawberry flavored.  I also liked how the recipe called for marshmallows (which is always a great idea).

I divided the batter up so that I could make a 6″ round cake, and about a dozen cupcakes.  The cupcakes were going to the BBQ, and the cake was going to the dinner.  It was going to be a mini birthday cake for one of my gal pals whose birthday was coming up that week, and seeing as the dinner consisted of just us 4 people, a 6″ cake felt like the perfect size for a little birthday cheer.

I mixed the cake batter together and set it aside, then did the strawberries.  To speed up the process of thawing, I dumped the frozen strawberries and gelatin into a double boiler.  Once they were all incorporated, I mushed them with a fork to make ’em syrupy and less chunky.

I then lined the bottom of the liners with mini marshmallows.

Then put the cake batter over top.

And finished it with a dollop of the strawberry/gelatin mixture.

After letting them bake…

Little did I know what I was in for.

Looks pretty good, right?

Wrong.

Lesson learned: You guys know how I’m all about “cupcake-ing” cake recipes?  Well, this one kinda failed as a cupcake adaptation.  Never again will I take a cake recipe that calls for gelatin, strawberries, and MARSHMALLOWS (all of which gets super sticky when baked), and fill it into cupcake liners.  I ended up painstakingly peeling the liners bit by bit off the cooked cupcakes so that people wouldn’t need to deal with the mess on the day of the BBQ.  Never again.  Waste of my time, and waste of perfectly pretty liners.  What was I thinking??

So after some tears and some self-glaring:

“So yeah, those holes are meant to be there…and they aren’t suppose to have cupcake liners. They are little mini scone cake things. Believe me, I meant to do that.”

After I cried in the corner, dried my eyes, talked to my therapist, and congratulated myself for not getting overly dramatic, I made my chocolate buttercream icing and piped the tops.

Icing makes everything look a little bit better, doesn’t it?

I then set aside the rest of the chocolate buttercream and started assembling the cake.

It came out much better than my cupcake version, thanks to the buttering and flouring of the cake pan.

Cake sliced in half – check out all the strawberry madness.

Then using my giant icing bag and icing tip, I piped a generous amount of chocolate buttercream on top of the bottom half.

Then smoothed it out with my spatula.

Then stacked the top cake layer, and dirty iced it all around.

Then I rolled out my my favored marshmallow fondant.

Men In Black plays on as I roll on.

Then draped the fondant over top my cake.

I then smoothed out the fondant on the cake and trimmed the excess.

Still got some air bubbles, but hopefully that’ll ease up with practice.

I bought this great, user friendly fondant mold at Michaels, which makes it really easy to do some really pretty decorations with fondant.  This mold was perfect too, as the birthday girl likes birds 🙂

Using a 50/50 blend of marshmallow fondant and gumpaste, I made batches into brown, pink, blue, and green to use them on the branches, flowers, birds, and leaves.  Super easy, and super pretty.  Good job, Wilton!

Make sure you dust the mold generously with icing sugar and corn starch to prevent the fondant from sticking to the detailed grooves in the mold.

I let the formed shapes sit a bit before applying them onto the cake.  I find them a bit easier to apply after they harden a bit to better ensure that my fingers don’t inadvertently squish these delicate shapes.

Using a clean brush, I dabbed water onto the back of the fondant pieces and placed them on the cake.

The finished cake.
Closer view of the cake.
The side view.

And thanks to a smart idea I stole from my coworker, I found the perfect way to transport this little cake.  Take an container that’ll fit your cake, turn it upside-down, and you’ve got a perfect caddy!

How clever is that?!

After a delightful dinner at Sorrentio’s, we headed back to our friend’s home for a fun filled night of gabbing about movies, playing the board game “Pandemic,” and diving into the cake.

Inside view of the strawberry shortcake with the chocolate buttercream layer (ignore the decapitated bluebird).

Despite the hiccup with the cupcake liners, both versions of my chocolate dipped strawberry turned out (and more importantly, tasted) great.

So movies were discussed, I accidentally  got slobber-kissed by my friend’s dog, and we managed to find the cures for all 4 viruses on our Pandemic board game.  If that ain’t reason enough to eat cake, I don’t know what is.

To the people of planet earth: you’re welcome.

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