So I asked my brother-in-law Alex to make the structure for me (thank you, thank you, thank you, Alex!!!!). It wan't hard, I'm sure, but we don't have the tools to get it done and he definitely does! The hard part? I didn't know dimensions! I normally go by what other people online suggest for size. So I tried to lay it out and see how big I wanted it. Kristine said Alex and I were thinking WAY too big, so I went closer to her suggestion. And I'm SO glad I did! It was plenty big, even with me "downsizing" it. The structure included a wood base, a vertical post and a platform on top for the horizontal top part to sit on.
I ended up using three doctored up cake mixes but I think I could have gotten by with only two if I'd planned ahead a little better or had a clearer vision for how it would work. No biggie. Sharon didn't mind the extra cake, I don't think ;) Here is the structure before I started (minus the top part):
Then I started stacking and layering 4"x4" chocolate cake with vanilla buttercream frosting. Again, if I'd planned ahead, I would have done 3.5"x3.5" since I ended up having to tapper it to that dimension at the top anyway. No big deal. I think it just added interest to the overall shape.
Then it was time to skim coat the base and add the top structure piece.
After that, it was figuring out the right length for the top piece. If it was too long, it would be too heavy. So I shortened it a bit. If I do it again, I would add a support piece between the base and the top (like a triangle to help support the weight). Not sure how that would work, but it would help a lot. Then when the whole thing was skim coated, it went back in the garage over night. Side note: it is SO much easier to make cake in the winter. And I desperately need a second fridge for cakes in the garage!
This is the point in cake making that I feel like a failure and think it will NEVER EVER look good. I hate this point. BUT...after letting it chill and frosting it, it always looks better!
Finn really liked the dripping chocolate on the inspiration picture, so I thought we'd go for a "sundae" kind of look with this one. Which means, I had to make some ganache (for those of you who aren't "in the know," ganache is just cream and chocolate melted together). This was new to me and I'm terrified of chocolate. It can be very difficult to work with but I found some instructions and crossed my fingers.
AND...it was too thin. I happened to have some extra baking chocolate in my cupboard (doesn't everybody?!?!) so I kept adding to it until it was thicker. Again, in hind sight, I didn't factor in how much it would thicken once it cooled, but I think you'll agree, it turned out just fine!
I wanted it to look like it was dripping down but didn't think I could get the look I wanted by actually have it drip down, so I just piped the drips. And I think it totally looks like it is dripping down. And I added sprinkles, of course! Also, in hind sight, I just piped a simple star border at the bottom but if I did it again, I think I'd do something with the chocolate or with the sprinkles to make it more dynamic.
Finally, I wanted cherries on top. But I waited too long to decide that so I couldn't order fake ones and get them in time. Darn! But I knew I'd seen real ones covered in sugar before and thought I'd try that. But for the LIFE of me, I could not find them or instructions on how to make them online. Argh. But I remember seeing something about egg whites, so let's wing it! I dipped a dry cherry in egg whites and sprinkled red sugar on it until it was covered (working over a bowl, obviously). Then I hung it to dry.
It worked great and was by far, the hit of the party! I had to get the rest of my (non-sugared) cherries out of the fridge so all the kids could have one! Next time, I would make a sugar cherry for every kid. Hey, its the simple things. Here is the finished product:
Overall, I think it turned out great. My son LOVED it and it had some of the "wow factor" I was looking for. I brought it in from the garage at the start of the party because I was pretty sure it was at least partially frozen. And by the time we cut into it, it was drooping a LOT, probably because of kids bumping the table constantly and the weight of the cake/frosting. I think the additional support under the top would help. Or maybe a little bit smaller of cake. But I'm notorious for making cakes that are ridiculously huge. And we only had two small layers at the bottom left over! I'd say that is a win in my book.
In case you didn't guess, he wants to make sure you know he's seven!