Here it is, the Lickety-Split!
~ Vanellope in Wreck-It Ralph
Happy birthday to my little sister!
Despite what I said in my last post, this cake was actually not for her birthday party. Her party took place at a Pizza Hut, where they had the dessert pizza, so this cake is just for the family. 🙂 Had I known that way in advance, I would have gone with a Disney’s Zootopia cake, like she originally wanted (I didn’t want to do Zootopia for her birthday party in the event an unsuspecting family watched it as a result and ended up surprised at the “naturalist club” scene (see my review for further info on that).)
Wreck-It Ralph, if you don’t already know, is more or less Toy Story with arcade game characters. One of these arcade games is a sweet-tooth-heaven Mario Kart called “Sugar Rush”. Everything in that world is made of, well, sweets. Sweets of all kinds act as foliage on the landscape, are fashioned into buildings, and are even raceable (not sure what the engines are made of, but who cares?).
So I decided I was going to try to recreate the race kart driven by one of the principle characters, Vanellope von Shweets. It’s not the prettiest kart on the track (see the clip below if you feel so inclined), but she loves her lopsided mish-mash of whatevers.
The cake itself is a cinnamon chocolate cake, which is a “healthier cake” apparently. (And on top of that, I went ahead an made it “healthier” yet by using applesauce for half of the sugar and mashed banana for half of the oil. I’m pretty sure it’s not meant to be a particularly sweet cake anyway.) The chocolate frosting I used is also an apparently “healthier” sort and likewise not sweet (it’s actually bitter like dark chocolate; the only sweetener in there is a couple tablespoons of maple syrup!)
With all of this not-so-very-sweet stuff going on, I’m actually glad that modelling chocolate is sweet. It’s too sweet to eat on its own (in large amounts, anyway), but on top of this cake, I think it helps balance things out. Modelling chocolate is something I discovered when I happened upon a blog post by McGreevy Cakes, who also had made a Vanellope car cake. However, instead of using fondant (which, it seems, most cake decorators with a following seems to use a lot of!), she used modelling chocolate, which does taste better and doesn’t have the drawback of being potentially rendered useless once hardened. So I decided to give it a try.
The cake-carving took a while, not so much because it was hard as I was just picky. 😀 The cake is two-layered, baked in a 9×10.5″ pan. I cut probably two inches to achieve a more rectangular shape for the car as well as extra cake to heighten the back of the car, fashion the spoiler, and cut out the wheels (using a drinking glass for the back tires and an espresso cup for the front). (The wheels are cookies in the movie, but I figured, “Why not use cake?”) The seat area is cut down to the first-tier level on the inside and the front end is slanted downward.
Now, modelling chocolate, besides being very sweet, is also easy to make, easy to mess up, and a fantastic workout for your hands (I went to bed with sore hands, woke up with them feeling worse, found that the feeling wore off in an hour or two, but still didn’t feel right when I used an eraser at work!) What I didn’t realize when I first made it was that it naturally hardens. (Seriously, if you need a projectile during a home invasion, grab a brick of modelling chocolate and aim for the head!) This meant that, in order to make it workable again, I had to cut it into small pieces and knead it down. The stuff is much harder to roll out than fondant (I think a large part of that is thanks to all the oils that are apparently in chocolate (who knew?!)), so I had to be careful to not tear it too badly. (Oh, and if you want coloured chocolate (like the teal or purple you see large amounts of), put in the colour when initially making the stuff! It’s much harder getting the colour nice and even if you try to add it in afterward.) Anyway, after I rolled out adequate amounts of the teal, purple, and brown modelling chocolate, I set each on the cake in the layers you see. I had to re-cut the seat area, but it’s actually better this way as it was easier to carve out that section once the modelling chocolate is on there. I also used modelling chocolate to surround the headlights (a sour cherry candy and a marshmallow) and the rear lights (two sour cherry candies).
The wheels were, as I said, cake, covered on the outside with white modelling chocolate (I used Wilton Edible Markers to colour on them), then partially-covered on the sides with frosting and coloured Twizzlers. (The movie tire treads are made of gummy worms, but gummy worms are kinda shorter than I remember them and not in right, vibrant movie colours, so I opted to go with the fruity Twizzlers instead — they’re more like tire treads anyway! 🙂 ) To “attach” them to the cake, I merely slathered the insides of these mini-cakes with frosting and made sure they stuck to the sides of the cake.
The little figure in the car was supposed to be Vanellope, but I didn’t feel like expending the extra energy in dying the chocolate black, so I just stuck with brown hair. After I drew on her face with the edible markers, I decided I’d just say that the driver was my sister – it’s her birthday after all! Her head and body are cake pops (cake crumbs and frosting mixed together) covered in modelling chocolate, attached with toothpicks. Her ponytail is a separate piece, also attached with a toothpick, and wrapped around with two strands of those pull-apart Twizzlers, stuck on with water and a bit of frosting.
The steering wheel is made with the bottom third of a pretzel, a sour cherry candy, and a bit of pull-apart Twizzler. The shape is not the same as the one in the movie, but it probably worked better this way, so far as practically pulling it off goes. The seat in the movie is half of a Devil Dog, so I just recreated the look with two cake pop “patties” and marshmallows. The exhaust pips are simply bits of modelling chocolate bent and stuck on toothpicks (these are also the wrong colours and not striped, but again, I didn’t want to stay up even later just to get these little details spot-on).
Finally, I added sprinkles (I brushed a bit of water on the modelling chocolate first to make them stick), writing in gel icing (with a bit of the random gel icing that just kinda happened on the kart in the movie), and more sprinkles!