Friday, June 7, 2013

Checkerboard Kit-Kat Cake

As I've mentioned before, I am cake-challenged.  When I need a cake, I try to put a lot of thought into the plans to make sure that it's something I can do successfully.  My oh-so-practical daughter helps me to stay humble on track.  We'll look at cakes online and she'll say, "Do you REALLY think you can make that, Mommy?  Remember the castle cake..."  She'll totally discourage me from trying something if she thinks it's too ambitious.  She is wise beyond her years.

So for this birthday, I wanted to do something that was fun and likely to be a hit with a group of kids, but most importantly, was within the scope of my abilities.  I saw something called a Kit-Kat Cake on Pinterest and thought that with a few tweaks (making a checkerboard cake and swapping the regular M&M's for specialty ones in her fave colors of aqua, lime, teal, and purple), it would fit the bill.

As mentioned before, I always like to do a demo cake if I can.  Once again, it was well worth the trouble and expense.  I realized many things...  1st that 1 box of cake mix was not enough to yield cake layers tall enough to match up with the Kit-Kat sticks.  I also ran out of blue batter and it was very hard to match the hue later with only a small amount of batter (see the dark greenish bit in the center - that was trying to be blue). 

I also did not have enough Kit-Kats!  For the demo, I purchased 4 of the king-size ones and was short several sticks.  Doh!

Learnings here - this cake needs 2 boxes of mix to yield taller layers.  One box-worth of batter should be tinted green and the other box tinted blue.  2 cans of frosting would be good as well.  And 5 king-size Kit-Kats are definitely be in order.  The amount of M&M's was good - about a pound.

I also learned that I should not do the frosting and Kit-Katting too far in advance.  The demo cake was made a day before eating and even though it was stored in a sealed cake carrier, the Kit-Kats definitely had a stale taste to them.  For the real cake, I baked it a day before, let cool overnight, and frosted and added Kit-Kats just a little before.

To achieve the checkerboard effect, I used my handy-dandy checkerboard cake kit.  I received it as gift from my hubby for our 1st Christmas as husband and wife - aww!  It consists of three round pans, each with a detachable plastic insert that looks like a 3-ring bulls eye.  The idea is to alternate the layers of color - 2 pans should have the same pattern and the third should be the opposite.  So if 2 pans are blue green blue, the third should be green blue green.  You add the batter, remove the inserts, and bake normally.  When assembling, put blue green blue on the bottom, then green blue green, then top with blue green blue.  When the cake is cut, it looks checkered.  My tip for adding the colored batter...  spoon your batter into a large ziploc baggie, snip off a end (make a deep snip - about an inch), and pipe it in.  It's much easier than trying to spoon or pour the batter into the rings.  Another tip is to choose a recipe that makes a fairly thick batter - the ring inserts are not attached to the bottom of the pan, so a really runny batter would seep under the inserts and ruin the effect.  I made this with Pillsbury Butter recipe mix (don't judge!), which yields a really nice, thick batter and a sturdy, dense cake.

Here's the finished product.

I was very pleased with it!  After baking and cooling overnight, the assembly of the cake only took about 30 minutes.  That let a little time to pop it in the fridge before leaving for the party (it was 94oF and HUMID on the day, so we wanted to chill it a bit as a preemptive strike against melty fosting.) 
The checkerboard effect was very cool - I love my checkerboard cake pan!  I wish that I had taken a close-up of the inside of the cake, but as I mentioned, it was 94oF and HUMID and - surprise!  The facility wasn't airconditioned.  So I was a little off my game with heat delirium.  Sorry!  You can sort of see it here...

And lastly, I topped the cake with a homemade pennant.  I used twine and scrapbook paper to make it.  I wanted to spell out my daughter's name, but she insisted on "10" and "M" only.  This being my 1st go-round with a cake pennant, they ended up a little wonky.  I wasn't sure that the straws would stay up unsupported, so I threaded bamboo skewers through the straws for extra oomph.  Unfortunately, the skewers I brought were longer than the straws, so I had to deeply angle them to not show.  Next time - shorter or no skewers are the way to go.

This cake was a HUGE hit with kids AND adults.  I'm adding this to my easy showstopper arsenal...  Kit Kat Cake, meet Rose Cake!

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