Heart and Skull Cake

Halloween - it's coming!!! 

This is the *one* time of year I get to make creepy, gory, ghoulish cakes and nobody bats an eye. 😉

Haha, bats. Pun not intended, but I'm going to leave it there now that I've noticed it. Sorry not sorry. 

Okay, back on track. I’ve had this skull-shaped cup in my 'Halloween box' since I won it at a party last year, and it just looked like the *perfect* topper for a cake!

I love making filled cakes, and I reeeeally wanted to fill this one with red jelly. I saw an Instagram video last year (@chelsweets) of a cake filled with red jelly, and ohhhhh man - soo crazy cool!!!  It looks *soo much* like blood spilling out of the cake – hence this cake’s semi-cheesy name ;) 

Recipe below!


Red Velvet Cake Layers:

Full disclosure – it was super late in the evening when I went to make these cake layers, and as I was looking over the ingredient list I discovered I didn’t have enough red dye. Red dye’s kiiiiind of a super important part of making this cake look right, and the grocery store that was still open didn’t have red gel dye…..so I doctored up a couple of red velvet cake mixes. To make the cake layers from scratch though, I recommend this recipe – Chelsweets has never let me down!

3 cups flour
1/4 cup of unsweetened cacao
3 cups granulated sugar
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks), room temperature
3 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup egg whites (about 7 large egg whites)
1 1/2 cups buttermilk, room temperature
1/8 cup vegetable oil
Red gel food coloring

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and line three 8” round pans with parchment paper, or use a floured baking spray.
Mix together all dry ingredients (flour, cacao, baking powder, sugar, and salt) in a stand mixer with a paddle until fully combined.
Mix chunks of room-temperature butter slowly into the dry mix, on a low speed. Continue to mix until no large chunks of butter remain, and the mixture becomes crumbly.
Pour in egg whites, and mix on low until just incorporated.  Mix in the buttermilk in two installments, on a low speed. Add in vanilla, gel food coloring, and oil, and mix at a low speed until fully incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula, then beat on medium high for about 30 seconds. Divide evenly between prepared cake pans. Bake for 32-35 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean. Allow to cool for 10 minutes, then run an offset spatula around perimeter of the pan to separate the cake from the pan. Place cake layers on a rack to finish cooling.

If you’d rather doctor up cake mixes like I did, use two red velvet mixes (I went with Duncan Hines), substitute 1 c butter for the oil, replace the water with milk, and add two extra eggs. 

Once your cake layers have cooled, use a glass or medium-sized biscuit cutter to remove the center from two of the three cake layers. 

While you cake layers are cooling, make your frosting and mirror glaze.

Black Chocolate Frosting:
8 oz (one package) cream cheese, softened
16 Tablespoons (two sticks) butter, softened
1 c cocoa powder, unsweetened
6 c powdered sugar
4-5 Tablespoons milk, more if needed
1 T vanilla extract
1/4 t. salt
Beat together softened cream cheese and butter; slowly add in cocoa powder and powdered sugar alternating with milk until frosting reaches desired consistency. Add vanilla and salt and beat until well combined.

Cake filling:
- 1 c red raspberry jam
- crumbled center from one of your cake layers

Black Chocolate Ganache Drip:
- 12 oz (2 c) semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 12 oz (1 ½ c ) whipping cream
- 2-3 drops black gel food coloring

Place chocolate chips in a heat-proof bowl. Place whipping cream in a small saucepan and bring almost to a boil over medium/low heat. Pour over chocolate chips and let rest for 2 minutes, then stir until smooth and silky. Add gel food coloring and stir until color is even.

Mirror glaze: (or you can use white chocolate ganache
One .25-ounce packet unflavored powdered gelatin
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup light corn syrup
1 cup good-quality white chocolate discs or chopped white chocolate (at least 30 percent cocoa butter – do *not* use candy melts!)
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
Red gel coloring, to make a deep red colored glaze 

To make the mirror glaze: 
Whisk together the gelatin and 3 tablespoons water in a small bowl and set aside to bloom.

Combine the sugar, corn syrup and 1/3 cup water in a medium saucepan, bring to a boil and cook until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is clear, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in the bloomed gelatin to dissolve. Add the white chocolate and allow to sit 1 minute to melt. Add the condensed milk and combine with an immersion blender until emulsified and smooth.

This recipe will make much more glaze than you need for the cake, but the rest can be saved in the refrigerator and re-melted for other projects! Color about 1/2 c of the glaze a deep red color. Let cool to 95 degrees F, checking with a candy or instant-read thermometer.
(Mirror glaze recipe from foodnetwork.com)

Additional Supplies/Equipment:
- 1 8- or 9-inch cardboard cake circle
- Immersion blender and a candy thermometer (if using mirror glaze for the topping) 
- Cake leveler or large serrated knife, cake turntable, offset spatula, and bench scraper - not all 100% necessary but incredibly helpful! 
- plastic ‘skull’ glass – I’ve seem them at every craft store and the ‘seasonal’ section of almost every grocery store near me! Also available in several varieties on Amazon.com. 

Assembly time!

Your two cored cake layers will be your bottom two – center your first layer on your cardboard cake circle, and spread a layer of frosting over it. Fill with raspberry jam and add crumbled cake crumbs – the most cake crumbs you add, the more solid your center will be and the slower it will drip out of your cake. If you want it to run out quickly, leave the cake crumbs out. 

Add a layer of frosting over the second cake layer, repeat the filling process, and put the final layer on top!

Now you're ready to crumb-coat . If you're unfamiliar with crumb-coating, it's just what it sounds like - a thin layer of frosting over the entire outside of the cake to keep crumbs out of your final layer. 
Once your crumb coat has set (this takes about 5-10 minutes in the fridge), add your final layer of frosting and smooth. I like to use an offset spatula and bench scraper for this part. Once your cake is covered, place it into the fridge or freezer to set the frosting.

Okaaaay......the drip!

When your ganache has cooled to a moderate temperature – it should feel slightly warm and still be fairly liquid – use a spoon to slowly drizzle ganache around the upper edge of your cake, pausing every inch or so to let more ganache fall in a drip down the side of the cake. Return cake to the fridge or freezer to set the drips.
You can also transfer the ganache to a squeeze bottle or piping bag to add the drips; I used a spoon this time around but definitely found squeeze bottles the easiest to work with for my first few drip cakes.   

The fun part!! Turn the glass upside down, and press it into the top of your cake – it should be in deep enough to stay upright in the top of the cake, but leave at least a bit of the glass rim above the cake top so you can drizzle mirror glaze underneath it. With a piping bag, drizzle mirror glaze under the rim of the glass and away from the glass toward the edge of the cake, letting it fall over the edge to make another set of drips.

Stand back and admire your work! Refrigerate until ready to serve – this cake is *super* fun to cut for a big group so they can watch all the jam ooze out everywhere! 

Make this recipe? Let me know  how it went - or find me on Instagram and tag @IntensiveCakeUnit in your photo! 

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