Raiding the larder of ideas.

What one family eats, plans to eat, dreams of eating. Plus, other food and kitchen-related stuff from the home of steak-and-potatoes, pie and fresh green beans from the garden.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Birthday Burger Cake & Fries

This week marked the ninth birthday of my... ummm... technically, I guess, there's no kinship, but because of the closeness of our families, we'll call her my niece. Anyway, I don't need to go into any details about the family, just suffice it to say, we all love her, and wanted her to have a very special day. Ergo, I spent a bit of time mulling over how best to do my part.

Last year, I built her a carrot cake somewhat in the shape of the Great Sphinx (complete with neighboring pyramid to hold the candles). I made a cocolocomotive, and then a circus tent (filled with runts and sixlets) for her brother, these last two years, respectively. Naturally, they've come to expect the unexpected.

In other words, I had to build a better mousetrap.

Initially, I looked through books and online for ideas. I had considered getting crazy with fondant, but that's such an uninteresting flavor, I tossed that notion. And then, I found the trend du jour -- fabulous fakes. Make your cake look like some other food. "One ha!" said I.

And I set about planning this lovely beast.

It's an ice cream cake. As if you couldn't figure it out by looking. But here's how it was assembled.

What you will need:

2 layers white cake
1/2 gallon (or a close approximation) chocolate cake
1/3 cup shaved coconut, colored green
1/4 cup (approximately) chocolate jimmies candy
6 ounces (approximately) yellow rolled fondant
pearl cake sprinkles (optional)
cherry ketchup (see recipe below)

Start with your favorite white cake recipe (I cheated & used a French vanilla mix, mostly because I had time & money constraints, & the local grocer had those mixes on SUPER sale. It was pretty tasty, as pre-fab foods go).

So, anyway. Make two 8" or 9" round layers according to your recipe or mix instructions. Allow to cool. Remove from pan, wrap & freeze.

Now, for the ice cream. Select your favorite chocolate half-gallon, allow to soften on counter or in refrigerator until easy to scoop. Take cleaned cake pan, line with plastic wrap. Press ice cream into pan to form patty. Cover. Freeze hard.

Add green food coloring to about 1/3 cup shaved sweetened coconut (Mom helped me make our own -- she cracked the shell, I picked out the meat, she worked the slicer. Then we simmered the shavings overnight in lowfat milk, which we shall use in short order for coconut cream pie, I'm guessing. Anyway, the last stage was to strain away the milk, add sugar, then add color. But you can probably buy shaved coconut and save yourself a few steps... just add the green food coloring). Now, you have lettuce.
I opted for taking a large knife & shearing away the domed top to one layer of the cake, so as to make the bottom half of the bun (a) more level and (b) look more realistic.

Roll out fondant to approximately 12 inches in diameter, trim into even square.

Once that is set up, you have to be ready to work fast, if your kitchen, like ours, is the hottest room in the house. Set a plate out and pour your chocolate jimmies into it, spread around. Remove ice cream from the freezer, then from the pan, and, using the plastic to keep your hands clean, roll the edge of the disc in the jimmies. Set it on top of the cake. Sprinkle your leftover jimmies from the plate onto the top of the ice cream layer. Top with fondant, cherry ketchup,

second layer of cake, and finish bun with cake pearl decorations as sesame seeds (optional).

Of course, what's NOT optional with a burger, is fries. For ours, I bought two pound cakes (I rather like the WalMart bakery pound cake, but made do, this time, with Sara Lee, and found that, while frozen, they slice very nicely). Preheat your oven to 375ºF. Trim away all the cake crusts, leaving bare the lovely creamy-looking cake centers... With a very long knife, cut pound cake loaves lengthwise to 1/2" to 1/3" thick sticks (I do not recommend a serrated knife for this task). Arrange on baking rack over cookie sheet. Brush top & sides of each stick with egg white. Sprinkle with large-crystal decorative sugar. Bake about 5 minutes. Remove from oven, allow to cool enough to handle. Carefully flip each stick, coat with more egg white, sprinkle remaining side with decorative sugar. Put back in oven for about 3 minutes, or, until golden-brown on edges.I printed my own accessories on card stock & went a little crazy, but you can take a sheet of white wrapping paper & cut it, fold it, & glue it to look like a small serving bag for fries, rather than a jumbo cup/box thingy. Let them "tumble" out (carefully arrange them to look like the pouch has fallen over). Or, you can put them in a basket or a bowl, or a large paper plate... go ahead, be creative.
Of course, French Fries are incomplete without ketchup. Do NOT use tomato ketchup (as if I had to tell you that). Use my simple cherry ketchup... but have fun, and put it into a clean ketchup bottle for serving.Make sure you label it carefully, if you're making it in advance. But for best effect, don't apply the ketchup to the fries until the whole thing is on the table in front of the guests. After the initial shock, they all want to snitch the fries... (watch those little fingers).
We had a happy birthday.

Cherry ketchup

In essence, this is a simple, slightly liquid cherry pie filling run through a blender.
1 quart frozen pie cherries
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 Tbs. butter (optional -- it just makes the flavor a little richer)
2 Tbs. corn starch

In a medium saucepan, heat cherries and water until all cherries are completely thawed. Run through blender until you have a pureé. Return to heat, bring to steady simmer. Add sugar, cinnamon and butter. Stir until completely mixed and sugar has fully dissolved.

To add corn starch, either carefully sift into cherry mixture, or pre-mix with enough cold water to make smooth liquid (if you do this, you may need a pinch extra starch to help thicken the sauce). Add a little at a time, stirring until completely mixed in and the sauce begins to thicken. Remove from heat, cool and put into bottle for the table.

Squirt like crazy all over the cake fries, right in front of guests.

Have a great party! I know we did!

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