I've never really been interested in cartoon/anime, apart from my obsessive viewing of Sailor Moon, Pokemon and Cardcaptor Sakura on Cheez TV every morning before school back in the 90s. Therefore, I was unsurprised (though slightly put out) when one of the brother's little friends informed me snidely that "Ben 10 [was] for babies!" I was suffering from severe sleep deprivation at the time, due to having gotten up at an obscene hour to put the edible icing transfer and other finish touches on the cake, and it was only out of consideration for my dignity that I didn't snark back. Making little kids cry is uncool, no matter however much they may deserve it xD
This particular cake marked many 'firsts' for me. It was the first time I've put an edible icing image transfer on a cake, and that was a nerve-wracking task in itself. It involved letting the image harden in the freezer, and then taking advantage of the 5 seconds it remained hard when taken out of the freezer to remove the backing sheet, and position it on the cake. I was a bit slow, and as a result some of the image didn't come off the backing sheet, but I managed to cover the boo-boo with the fondant border.
Talking about the fondant...you can see from the close-up above at how shoddy a job I did, but again, this was a first for me! Not only have I never worked with fondant before, but this fondant was one that I'd made myself, using the marshmallow fondant technique. I wouldn't say that it was necessarily cheaper than store-bought fondant when you count the costs of the raw materials and the time and effort that went into making it, but it did turn out to be tastier than the store-bought stuff. There were huge, visible cracks running down two sides of the cake and along the top, and for one heart-stopping moment I thought all was lost when the fondant tore as I pulled it over the cake. Thankfully I was able to rescue the cake, employing the same resourcefulness as I did in those disastrous Design & Technology classes back in high school.
See, I wasn't exaggerating when I said the cracks were HUGE.
All in all, not the neatest looking cake, but the cake itself (and the filling) was more delicious than any birthday cake we've ordered from professional cake shops. I decided on a no-frills cream cheese pound cake base, filled with chocolate ganache buttercream.
Spreading the buttercream on THICK; I like a 1:1 ratio of cake to filling!
Chocolate ganache buttercream combines the best of two worlds, as its name suggests. There are a few recipes on the internet under the common moniker of "chocolate ganache buttercream", but because I didn't like the sound of any of them, I decided to invent my own. I started by making a chocolate ganache, using the best chocolate I had in the house: 200g of Lindt milk chocolate, 100g of Lindt Excellence 70% dark chocolate, and 100g of Callebaut 70% dark chocolate. I intentionally used double cream which had a high fat content, around 48%. After the chocolate had melted into the 600ml of double cream over low heat, I added in 3 tablespoons of unsalted butter. I poured the whole concoction into an airtight container, put it in the fridge and left it overnight. This is what it looked like when I scooped it out the next morning:
Looks good enough to eat with a spoon, doesn't it? :D My original plan was to use the ganache as is to fill and crumb-coat the cake, but there were issues with quantity (i.e. not having nearly enough ganache to frost three layers) and the fact that the ganache was simply too rich and sweet. The solution: aerate it by whipping it with some butter. The result: a chocolate mousse-like buttercream that was not too sweet, but was unmistakably chocolatey!
I also made some iced cookies using the Easter-themed cookie cutters I recently purchased, but I'll leave the details for another post :)
Here's the recipe for the amazing chocolate ganache buttercream!
Recipe for Lucy's Chocolate Ganache Buttercream
Makes around 3-4 cups of buttercream
200g Lindt Excellence Milk Chocolate
100g Lindt Excellence 70% Cocoa dark chocolate
100g Callebaut 70% bittersweet chocolate
600ml double cream (I used Pura Double Thick Cream, but any cream suitable for cooking should be fine)
375g + 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1. Put double cream and all 400g of chocolate in a thick-bottomed saucepan, over a gentle heat, until chocolate has melted completely. Keep stirring the mixture and scraping the sides and bottom of the saucepan to stop it from burning.
2. Take the mixture off the heat, and add 3 tablespoons of butter. Stir until butter has completely melted.
3. Transfer the ganache mixture into an air-tight container, and chill in fridge until the ganache has firmed to a spreadable consistency. If ganache is too hard, microwave in 5 second bursts until soft but not liquid.
4. Beat the chilled ganache with a hand beater or stand mixture, until light and fluffy. Add in the 375g of unsalted butter. To help with the butter combining with the ganache, you can chop it into 2cm cubes beforehand.
5. Beat the butter and ganache until it looks like an aerated mousse. Chocolate ganache buttercream, done!