Video Gamers' Birthday Party Cake

Fun-to-sculpt fondant animals top this creation, made from a simple sheet cake.

Craft a Cake

Video game cake

Photograph by Dana Gallagher

For the fondant needed to decorate this cake, you can use our tasty homemade version or the store-bought kind, available in the cake aisle at craft stores. The day before the party, bake the cake (it needs to freeze overnight) and prep the fondant. Kids can get in on the action by rolling and cutting the fondant, then sculpting the critters.

Homemade Fondant

You will need:
1 pound confectioners' sugar
8 ounces mini marshmallows
1 1/2 tablespoons water
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
1 tablespoon food-grade glycerin (available in the candy aisle at craft stores)

1. Sift the confectioners' sugar into a large bowl and set it aside.
2. Place the marshmallows in a large microwave-safe bowl, and heat for 1 minute. Stir, then continue heating them in 30-second intervals, until melted and puffy, about 1 minute.
3. To release the marshmallows from the bowl, pour the water around the side. Transfer the mixture to a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment.
4. Add the shortening to the marshmallows and mix on medium-low for about 30 seconds.
5. Add 1 cup of the confectioners' sugar and mix on medium-low for 1 minute, scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. Repeat with the rest of the sugar until it is fully incorporated and the fondant is smooth.
6. Place the glycerin in a small bowl. Dip your fingers in, then pull the fondant off the hook. If you're not going to use the fondant right away, lightly coat it with glycerin, then wrap it tightly in plastic wrap. Wrap and store the glycerin as well.

Tip: When working with fondant -- coloring, kneading, cutting, or sculpting -- keep a dish of glycerin nearby and dip your fingers in whenever the fondant gets sticky.

Color the fondant:

Whether you opt for homemade or store-bought fondant, you'll need to color it. You'll want these food coloring gels: red, yellow, blue, two shades of green, pink, and brown.

1. Divide the fondant into 8 balls, using the following as a guide.

  • Red and yellow: cherry-tomato size
  • Blue and both shades of green: golf-ball size
  • Pink and white: tennis-ball size
  • Brown: softball size
2. To color each ball, dip a toothpick into the food coloring gel and swipe the color across the fondant. Roll and knead the fondant to mix the dye throughout. To darken the shade, use a new toothpick and repeat.
3. Coat each batch with a bit of glycerin and store it in a plastic bag until ready to use.

Make the Blocks:

1. Dust a cutting board with confectioners' sugar. Set aside a pea-size ball of brown fondant for the sheep. Working with one color at a time, knead the brown, blue, and both green fondants to make them more pliable, then use a rolling pin dusted with confectioners' sugar to roll each to 1/8-inch thickness.

2. Let each fondant rest for 15 minutes, then use a plastic knife or fondant cutter to make 1/2-inch blocks. Store the blocks in a plastic container until the cake is frosted.

Sculpt the animals:

Video game cake

Photograph by Mark Mantegna

Working with one color at a time, knead the pink, white, yellow, red, and pea-size piece of brown fondant to make them more pliable. Use your hands to roll the fondant and to shape them as shown, then brush a little water between the pieces to help them adhere to one another.

Build the cake:

Video game cake

You will need:

9- by 13-inch cake
Pieces of crystal rock candy (optional)
1 (16-ounce) can chocolate frosting
1 (16-ounce) can white frosting
Green food coloring gel
1- by 1-inch Rice Krispies treat
King-size Kit Kat

1. Bake a 9- by 13-inch cake, let it cool, and remove it from the pan. Wrap the cake in plastic wrap and place it in the freezer overnight. Note: The baked cake will measure about 8 1?2 by 12 inches.

2. Cut the cake as shown:

Video game cake

3. Assemble the pieces as shown, spreading chocolate frosting between layers.

4. If you like, cut a few holes in the base of the cake and insert pieces of the crystal candy. Cover each hole with the cake you removed.
5. Frost the sides of the cake with the chocolate frosting.
6. Color the white frosting with the green gel. Cover the tops of each cake layer with the green frosting.
7. Make a tree by poking a hole in the Rice Krispies treat with a knife (an adult's job). Dip a piece of the Kit Kat in the green frosting and insert in the hole.
8. Decorate the cake with the fondant blocks, animals, and the tree.

Originally published in the March 2014 issue of FamilyFun

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