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This week’s obsession: The Ghosts Among Us

Y’all, things got kinda out of hand the other night... 

In all honesty, I already felt bad for chopping up this cute little lady ghost of mine to serve for dessert, but then she ended up with a knife in her head/whole body and I actually felt the need to apologize. To a cake. ::facepalm:: One of my guests even turned her cute little smiley face into a frown to reflect the seriousness of the situation, which only increased my desire to apologize. It was a mess. 

I guess I should share some back story about this party and cake with you. As we all know, I occasionally like to host a taco themed dinner party. I mainly throw these parties so I can drink margaritas and chow down on cheese dip with my friends, but it also gives me an extra chance to experiment with new cake techniques and then force feed it to my

friends. So that's why I made this lovely little ghost cake. She was my foray into practicing with fondant again and honestly was just a fun conversation piece (I had her displayed on my countertop bar with some leftover cupcakes from last week) and an excellent party guest. Just look at that happy little face!

I have to admit that working with fondant has never been a favorite of mine, and honestly I think it’s been about 4 or 5 years since I’ve even attempted a cake that’s covered in fondant. (Coincidentally, that last fondant cake, too, was a Halloween cake. It was from 2013 for a party themed "Monster Smashed", and I loved every minute of it!! PLEASE don't judge my terrible photography skills!) For those of you who aren't super into baking, fondant is essentially frosting in a dough form that can be rolled out into a sheet to smoothly cover cakes.

The reasons I don't work with fondant are few, but substantial. First of all, I don’t particularly like the taste of fondant, which really prevents me from wanting to feed it to anyone. (Ask me why I never make banana or coconut anything!!) And secondly, I have an unfortunate habit of muscling fondant into submission so much so that it cracks, tears, dries out, and otherwise looks terrible and does not cooperate. (Confession: Having a gentle touch has never been my strong suit. I’ll never forget the time in high school when I was choreographing a show or a dance or something, and I grabbed one of my guy friends to get him in the proper place. He had his back to me as I was [apparently] shoving him to the correct spot and over his shoulder he shouted “Stop manhandling me, AB!!!” I remember being dumbfounded and thinking, “well how else am I going to get things done??” ... yeah, it’s Hulk Hands or nothing with me. #SorryNotSorry) After repeatedly experiencing all of these issues I became overly frustrated with fondant as a whole and just refused to use it. But then Halloween themed cakes took over my social media and I decided to give it another try. 

A word about most things that require constant practice: when you finally do them after not practicing for years, it’s not even close to being perfect, so don't expect it (like I did). #unreasonable

My sad excuse for a candy waterfall. I actually knocked all of these candy pieces loose so I could take the photo.

But that’s ok because I chose a design that only required me to cover the top portion of the cake with smoothed fondant, and then I draped the rest freely around the cake without much technique or precision. (I'm taking baby steps to get back into it.)

Now, because I’m such a Halloween superfan it should come as no surprise that I miss going trick or treating more than anything! (Real talk: the last time I trick or treated I was a senior in high school! I even tried to get my college friends to join in a year later, but no dice. #lame) Typically when I have such strong feelings about something, I just assume that everyone else feels the same way, because why wouldn't they?! This assumption is what inspired me to design this cake to have a surprise trick or treat element so everyone else could have a little fun that they were so obviously missing, too. I did this by cutting out a circle on the inside area of each layer before stacking. Once I secured the cake in tower form, I poured in a bag of M&Ms before sealing it shut with cream cheese frosting and fondant.

But I did it incorrectly, so here’s my tip of the week: when you want to make a show stopping candy filled cake, be sure not to frost the inside of the hole that you cut, otherwise the candy will stick to the icing when you remove the first slice of cake and it will not spill out as the fantastical sugar laden waterfall that you vividly imagined. (Not that I’m bitter about it or anything.) All you need to do is frost in between the layers of cake like normal and leave the inside bare so that upon extraction of the first section of cake, the candy will be free to spill out and surprise everyone.

However disappointing the lack of cascading candy theatrics was, I still feel that this sweet treat was a great hit at the party and I am super glad that I attempted to work with fondant again, even if it wasn't perfect. I'm starting to apply this gumption to other portions of my life, and it's definitely making a positive impact. I'm almost smiling as brightly as my little ghost lady these days (you know, before she ended up with a knife in her head)!

Happy eating, y'all!

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