November 28, 2010

Character Head Cakes

3 character "Head" Cakes decorated in Modeling Chocolate for my son and 2 friends:  Toothless from How to Train Your Dragon, a LEGO Harry Potter, and Haunter from Pok√©mon.

I had to go out of town for a few days on a business trip and came back with only 2 days to pull the cakes together and finalize the party details.  The other mom and I had decided that with the time constraints, we would buy a Costco sheet cake that I could decorate up really simply - yes, I actually did not bake these cakes.  It saved me tremendous time with cutting out the prepping, baking, making the frosting... clean up alone from all that was a huge, huge, time saver!  Each kid gave me their requests the week prior and I spent the rest of the week trying to figure out how to incorporate 3 different themes out of 1 sheet cake.  The cake was ordered on Thursday for a Friday noon pickup...a vanilla cake with cream cheese mousse filling and plain, white buttercream - "NO DECORATIONS!" was written on the order slip in big letters.  I didn't have a clue to what to do with the cakes until late, Thursday night.  I figured I could carve 2, 6-inch cakes and 2, 5-inch cakes off one sheet cake (11x15) and make character heads out of it - what a perfect resolution and each kid gets his own cake!

I picked up the cake Friday at noon and stuck it into the freezer to firm up for carving.  6pm I pulled the cake out of the freezer and scrapped off as much of the buttercream as I could - boy, they are not kidding when they say there's 2 lbs of frosting!  I used a 6 and 5 inch cake circle as a template to cut down the cakes and stuck them back into the freezer to stay firm while I worked on carving out each head-cake one by one.
I used the extra cake pieces to build up the front of  Toothless (front middle in the picture) and the base of the spikes on Haunter (back left in the picture).  Harry Potter were 2 stacked, 5-inch rounds (back right in the picture).  I used the buttercream I had scrapped off to cover the cakes with then let them sit at room temperature while I covered each of them.

I used mostly modeling chocolate to cover them with (recipe can be found under the How to Make Modeling Chocolate post).

Tip:  make sure your cakes are at room temperature when covering them with modeling chocolate.  A cold cake will make the chocolate set hard, really fast, and give you no time to work and mold it into shape.

I usually just roll out fondant directly over the table dusted with powdered sugar but the modeling chocolate kept ripping every time I tried to pick it up.  So I ended up rolling it over parchment paper dusted with powdered sugar instead to help keep it together and in one piece.  Then flipped the rolled out modeling chocolate over the cake, peeled off the parchment paper and smoothed it out, trimmed off the excess, then build up the features with additional modeling chocolate.  I used a small, metal, ball-tipped tool to smooth and blend the seams in since my fingers were too warm to use - the tool got into the small areas much easier anyways.

Toothless from "How to Train Your Dragon":  I used Blue, Wilton Candy Melts to make the modeling chocolate then kneaded in a little bit of AmeriColor black gel paste and some of the purple modeling chocolate into it.  I used white modeling chocolate for the eyes.  The board is covered in MMF and impressed with Duff's Brick Impression Mat.  His name is piped in royal icing and the font style can be found for free on, called Dragon Font.

Harry Potter LEGO:   Harry's head and board is covered in MMF.  His hair and other black features are modeling chocolate.  I used Wilton Dark Chocolate Candy Melts and kneaded in some AmeriColor black gel paste.  His name is piped with Royal Icing.

Haunter, a Pokemon character:  I used Wilton Lavender Candy Melts to make the modeling chocolate.  I used white modeling chocolate for the eyes.  The red mouth is MMF.  The board is covered in MMF and impressed with Duff's Cobblestone Impression Mat.  His name is piped in Royal Icing in a font, also found for free on, called, Unown.  Unown's are actual, evil characters in one of the Pokemon movies.  My son loved his cake, especially his name in the Unown font.

I was finally done with all the cakes at 2am Saturday morning - 1 night and 8 hours in total - phew!!!  I was actually able to pull it off!

The cakes were a huge hit at the party.  Matias, Dante and their mom were expecting a sheet cake with some simple characters cutout with fondant on them, and they were completely surprised that they actually got their own, customized 3D cake - they loved them!  I just love surprising of the best and most rewarding things about decorating cakes - make people happy and smile really big on their birthday - it makes for great pictures!


  1. these are incredible! I am really excited to try your modeling chocolate recipe. The one I've used in the past was definitely not pliable enough to smooth & lay over a cake!!

  2. Love 'em- I think the Lego guy is my personal favorite.
    I've only covered one cake with modeling chocolate, but I've found that using cornstarch works nicely to keep it from sticking- I use cornstarch for rolling out my fondant as well, I find it easier to brush off the excess than p. sugar.
    Great Job!!!!

  3. Thank you ladies! Julie, it's a toss up between PS and corn starch. Usually I like to use the PS since the cakes are mostly for kids who gobble up the MMF before eating the actual cake. I've found that corn starch leaves a slight bitter taste behind on the MMF although it is easier to brush off.