My son's latest video game obsession is Terraria, which combines building, adventure, and mining — sort of like Minecraft in 2D, with more role-playing game thrown in. One of the bad guys ("bosses") in the game is a giant bloody eyeball. For his birthday, therefore, I decided to give him what only an 11-year-old video gamer would want: a giant bloody eyeball birthday cake. It wasn't as gross as it sounds; read on for details and my secret to making spheres with sweets.
First, the basic cake:
- I started with my go-to chocolate cake, but made it in two square pans instead of round. One pan was smaller than the other so I could evoke the game's blocky look when I stacked the layers. Any recipe for a standard, 9" two-layer cake should work.
- When the layers were cool, I spread the bottom one with cherry jam, but left a border where the smaller top layer would not cover the filling.
- I spread the whole thing with my go-to fudge frosting for the brown ("dirt") base.
- Next up, a batch of quick buttercream, which I divided into three parts. One third remained white, and I set this aside, covered tightly. I tinted the next third blue and the final one green with food coloring. The colored frostings went on the top of the top layer (for "sky") and the border of the lower layer (for "grass"). I still had some of each color left over, which I set aside.
- A half cup of sweetened, shredded coconut in a jar with a teaspoon of water and a couple of drops of green, shaken well, gave me extra grassy goodness for the top of the lower layer.
Then to the eyeball, Part One.
- My secret trick was to make up a batch of Rice Krispie treats, using the recipe right off the bag of marshmallows. While the mixture was still warm, I rolled about half of it into a ball for the eye and set it on wax paper to cool.
Time for the trees, while the Krispie mixture was still warm.
- I dissolved a few drops of green food coloring in an extra teaspoon or so of melted butter and tossed it around with the remaining Krispie mixture. I then made several small spheres, poked holes in them with the handle of a wooden spoon, and stuck pretzel rods in the holes to create the distinctive "lollypop"-style trees of Terraria. I ended up making six, although I only used four for the cake. (Pro tip: Don't try sticking the pretzels directly into the Krispie balls. They will break.) I set the trees aside on wax paper, balls down, to cool.
Back to the eyeball.
- I took a small lump of the extra blue frosting, rolled it into a ball, and flattened it between two sheets of wax paper, then stuck it in the freezer. This would become the iris of the eye.
- I frosted the eye with the white frosting, then set it on wax paper and put in the fridge to harden.
- When it was ready, I set the eyeball on the cake.
- I took the iris out to warm for just a few minutes, then peeled off one layer of wax paper, pressed the iris to the eyeball, and removed the second layer of wax paper.
- Half of an Oreo became the pupil. (The other half, with the cream filling, became my snack.)
- I sliced up a Twizzler into shreds and pressed it into the eyeball, as shown.
Finally, finishing the trees.
- Some of the pretzel "trunks" had loosened from their "leaf" balls, so I took them out, put a dab of green frosting into the leaf-ball holes, and reinserted the pretzels, then set them aside to harden.
- I left the trees off of the cake until the last minute, afraid they'd fall over. Just before the party, I stuck them in the cake.
The cake was a big hit with my son and his friends. I may not be the Ace of Cakes, but a bloody eyeball I can manage.
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