This post is for all of you who were wondering how to create that realistic grill cake from Peyton’s ninth birthday party. Many of you have told me that you shared photos of the cake with your friends and coworkers who asked questions like, “Is that plastic food on top of that cake?” Or “What is on top of that cake?” Or “Where did she get that fake food for the top of the cake?” You all seemed as proud as I was to tell them that everything thing on the cake (aside from the grill rack) was homemade, entirely edible, and delicious (except maybe the “hot dogs”). So I thought I’d take a minute to explain the construction of this “amazing” cake. The Food Network site provided a video and recipe for building this cake, which you can see here, but I went “off the reservation” a little with some of my ingredients.
The recipe called for burgers made with Cocoa Rice Krispies, marshmallows, and melted chocolate chips. I simply followed the traditional Rice Krispie treat recipe and substituted Cocoa Krispies. Then I scooped up balls with an ice cream scoop and shaped them into patties with greased hands (I had to re-spray my hands with cooking spray several times during this process). I laid the patties on greased parchment paper to set up. The recipe called for using yellow fruit leather for the “cheese” on the burger. Of course I couldn’t find any fruit leather in solid yellow, so I kneaded one yellow and one orange Starburst candy together and then rolled it out into a square to make the cheese.
The corn on the cob that the Food Network people wanted us to make was an extremely complicated project consisting of cutting the ends off of a Twinkie and then covering it with vanilla frosting and rows of yellow and white jelly beans. It was beautiful but time consuming and I knew that I wanted to provide a grill full of “food” so the kids wouldn’t fight over what was on top of the cake. There was no way I was making more than one of those ears of corn. It was time to improvise! I found a package of puffed rice rolls (think corn on the cob shaped rice cakes) at the local dollar store. They almost looked like ears of corn just as they were but I wasn’t satisfied. I cut them in half to make more than a dozen mini corn on the cobs. Then I melted yellow candy melts and rolled the cobs in them. A skewer through the middle finished them off.
Next came the difficult task of making a realistic looking hot dog out of candy. Those helpful people at Food Network suggested using 2 caramels and one piece of pink salt water taffy kneaded together and shaped into a hot dog. You guessed it, I couldn’t find any salt water taffy. I tried to mix red gel food coloring into caramels, but the longer the finished hot dogs sat the flatter they became (and the red food coloring rubbed off on your hands!). Time to try again and I didn’t have to look any farther than that bag of Starburst that I bought to make “cheese.” One cherry Starburst and 2 caramels produced a very realistic looking hot dog. I added a few grill marks with an edible marker and we were good to go. I’ll admit that the taste was a little strange but they looked perfect!
The vegetable kebabs were the easiest to replicate. I simply halved gummy fruit slices, dipped the cut ends in sugar, and alternated them with round cherry sour balls on bamboo skewers.
The cake itself was a simple two layer yellow cake with chocolate frosting. The “coals” were simply a 7″ circle of mini marshmallows broiled in the oven. Two important pieces of advice here: First, Food Network said to arrange marshmallows on a greased teflon baking mat (which of course I don’t own). Second, they said to let the marshmallows cool completely before removing the circle from the baking mat. As I said I don’t own a baking mat so I used non-stick aluminum foil sprayed with cooking spray. It seemed to work just fine until I tried to remove the foil (after cooling completely). The marshmallows refused to let go of the foil. What was I going to do now? It was 2 hours before the party and of course I didn’t have a backup plan. In a last ditch effort I placed the baking sheet in the freezer. Fifteen minutes later the marshmallows popped right off the foil. Hooray!! I placed the marshmallow circle on the frosted cake, sprinkled on some crushed hard cherry candies, and placed the grill on top.
I arranged the “cheeseburger ,” “hot dogs,” “corn-on-the-cob,” and “vegetable skewers” on the grill and the cake was complete. I filled a small camping stove with the extra faux food and we were ready for the party. The kids ate the entire cake and all the faux food (except a few of those strange tasting hot dogs) so I guess it was a success! My take on the corn on the cob and the cheeseburgers were the crowd favorites.