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, April 06, 2013

DECORATE! DECORATE! Cupcake Cone Daleks

So, Monday afternoon I'm supplying the cake, the extra treats, and the decorations for a party celebrating a monkey-boy's seventh birthday. The event will take place at his grandparents' house, a few blocks from where I live and bake. The activities include watching an episode of Doctor Who and then building cupcake Daleks.

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In order for a riot of boys to do something like building an army of alien killer robots

there has to be a lot, A LOT of preparation, or chaos is the only thing they will generate.  After all, we are talking about sticky foods, spatulas, and an enclosed area (forecast is for thunderstorms, so there will likely be no romping in the garden). At any rate, rather than let them do as much damage as the same number of Daleks would, I've assembled the parts ahead of time.

The first stage is to get ice cream cups.

I had wanted to find some chocolate wafer cups (to make all-chocolate Daleks), but, for some reason, nobody in my area had any of them. Dang it, don't people in retail know that chocolate is a necessity, especially in these uncertain times? Well! Instead of leaving in a huff, I bought a box of colored cups, 
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and l left in a minute and a huff.*

Other than that, almost everything I needed was in stock in my own cupboards. I'm a regular boy scout, I am. 

In case you're not certain what you'll need to have in your kitchen cupboards for a project like this, here is a list of all ingredients:

  • cake batter, either your favorite recipe or a favorite box mix.
  • food coloring
  • simple whipped frosting, either your favorite recipe or from a little tub†
  • little pretzel sticks
  • m&m minis
  • helmets. 

That last one is the hardest to come by. I've considered using chocolate-covered cherries or other straight candy domes, but they all end up looking more square than rounded, so the Dalek doesn't look very… Dalek-y. At last, though, I found, at a Big Lots store, some of these chocolate-dipped marshmallow-topped chocolate cookies
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Which looked a little less dented on the cover of the box,
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but I decided I could live with it, and just let the boys pretend our Daleks had just been in a big battle.

Anyway, now to the construction of your invading army. 

The first thing you are going to want to do is to set out your ice cream cups. My box of ice cream cups had eighteen in it, but the recipe I use makes two dozen cupcakes. This is only a problem if you lack ambition. Either put set up some cupcake papers or those silicone cups, or get an eight-inch cake pan or brownie pan, butter it up or line it with parchment, and set it amid your workspace. Then stand your wafer cups up, either on a cookie sheet or each in its own cup of a muffin tin. 

Next, to make the cupcakes, follow your favorite recipe or the instructions on your box mix to make  a basic cake. If you're going with coloring the cakes as I did, stick with a white cake, because you want your colors to come out intense and cheerful. (But feel free to use your favorite chocolate cake. It won't be seen once you build the Dalek.) If adding color to a white cake, once the batter is mixed, divide into as many bowls as you have colors (the standard mix provides about 5 cups of batter, so do your math on that). Add food color until it reaches the desired tint. 

Spoon batter into bottom of wafer cups, until it nearly fills, to just under a centimeter from the top of the cup. When all the cups are filled, pour any remaining batter into the cupcake papers or the small cake pan (it will not be a thick cake).

Bake about 15-18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of one comes out clean.  

Allow to cool completely.

Many of these will have domes upon their tops.
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You do not want this lovely effect, because you are going to invert the cupcakes, so, take a sharp, serrated knife and cut away the extra cake tops so that there is a nice, flat surface. Set the cupcake down on parchment or waxed paper. (The dots you cut away may be saved for a later project or just nibbled the heck out of.)

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Once it is on its paper, it is now ready for little hands to mess with it. 

Let them slather frosting around what would have been the base of the cup, but is now its top (this means the sides and the top). Have them stick a helmet on it. Then, it's a matter of setting in rows of those m&m minis (each Dalek will need at least 18 to 24 dots, depending on how tightly the child arranges his rows of dots.

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Then they can dip one end of a pretzel stick into the remaining frosting, attach a weapon arm, break another pretzel in half (or bite a couple of them off so they're the desired length) and dip ends of those pieces into frosting, and attach them so they look, more or less, like this:

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*Thank you, Groucho Marx.

†I made a several batches of white "buttercream" frosting, combining 1/3 cup water (plus a little extra as needed), 1/3 cup solid vegetable shortening (Crisco), and 4 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar, then added most of a packet of unsweetened Kool-Aid plus matching food coloring to make some frosting for the party. It's tart and tangy and probably not for adult taste buds. But I love the stuff. The Demonstration Dalek, though, is, as you can see, made from pre-fab frosting.

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