I doubled and slightly-modified a chocolate cupcake recipe from thescranline.com - check out Nick's site and his Instagram feed if you haven't already; he does some incredible work!
Of note...you'll need either a kitchen scale to measure ingredients in grams OR - you can use this fancy ‘grams to cups converter’. Or just use the conversions I ballparked for you. You’re welcome.
350g all purpose flour (roughly 2 ¼ c)
450g caster sugar (roughly 2 ¼ c)
100g cocoa powder (roughly 1 ¼ c)
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 c /250g /16 T unsalted butter, softened
4 large eggs, at room temperature
350ml buttermilk (about 1 ½ ; I used a 2c pyrex liquid measuring cup with mL marks on the back)
2 t vanilla extract
Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F (180C) or 320 FC (160C) for a fan forced oven. Grease 3 8-inch pans with baker's floured spray and/or line pans with parchment paper.
In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, add the cocoa powder, flour, salt, baking soda, and sugar. Turn mixer on low speed and allow it to mix for a couple minutes to help everything combine well (or sift the ingredients together). Add in the softened butter until it’s well incorporated into the dry ingredients and no lumps of butter are visible.
Next, add buttermilk, eggs, and vanilla together and whisk until well combined. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients in a slow and steady stream until no dry ingredients are visible. Scrape down the bowl and mix for another 20 seconds.
Fill the three pans evenly - I find a kitchen scale helpful for this part, and each of mine weighed out to about 550g. Bake for 30-35 min or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Allow cake layers to cool completely on a wire cooling rack before frosting. If you insert a skewer or toothpick and it comes out with wet batter, bake for another few minutes at a time until a skewer or toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean or with moist crumbs. Cool completely – set in the fridge or freezer to accelerate the cooling process if desired.
Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting:
8 oz (one package) cream cheese, softened
16 Tablespoons (two sticks) butter, softened
6-7 c powdered sugar
2-4 Tablespoons milk
1 T clear vanilla extract
1/4 t. salt
Beat together softened cream cheese and butter; slowly add in powdered sugar alternating with milk until frosting reaches desired consistency. Add vanilla and salt and beat until well combined.
- 1 8- or 9-inch cardboard cake circle
- small / large piping bag & small / large tips
- 2-3 cups coconut (for covering cake)
- 15-20 small cookies (I used Girl Scout Samoas since I was covering the cake in coconut, but any cookie would work!)
- ½ c hot fudge sauce or chocolate ganache (recipe below if you’d like to make your own!)
- Star Wars silicone / ice cube molds – I used these ice cube trays from ThinkGeek – but I think they’ve gone out of stock since I bought them off ThinkGeek, but I did find another option from Target!
- 1 bag gray or black candy melts (I used Wilton candy melts)
- Cake leveler, cake turntable, offset spatula, and bench scraper - not all 100% necessary but incredibly helpful!
- dry ice
- small thin plastic storage cup – I used a ½ cup Glad brand container that I cut the top rim off of. You could use whatever container is small enough to work
- small piece of dry ice + hot water – dry ice can be found at most large grocery stores; I called ahead to the store to make sure they had some on hand. I also recommend oven mitts and a pair of tongs so you don’t ice-burn yourself!
While your cake layers are baking, melt candy melts in a microwave safe container according to package directions, and fully fill your molds. Place into the fridge to set while you finish your cake layers and frosting!
Once your cakes are cool, level them (if needed/desired). This can be done with a cake leveler or a large serrated knife and a ruler. Place a smear of frosting on your cake circle (to keep the cake from sliding while you decorate it) and center your first cake layer in the center of the circle. Spread the layer with frosting.
This part is optional, but I opted to pipe a small border of frosting around the rim of the cake, and fill the cake with pieces of chopped cookie and a generous drizzle of chocolate ganache. Up to you!
Whatever your filling, repeat the process with your remaining cake layers.
1 c (6 oz) chocolate chips
1 c (8 oz) whipping cream
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. Chill until thick enough to pipe into cupcake centers, but don't let it solidify completely.
Now you're ready to crumb-coat . If you're unfamiliar with crumb-coating, it's just what it sounds like – spreading 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, press coconut into the frosting around the outside of the cake.
Place it into the fridge or freezer to set the frosting.
Now the fun part! I mounded cookies in the center of the cake and covered them with chilled ganache and frosting / coconut – this gave me a place to put my AT-AT walkers and Star Destroyers. A bit of extra frosting helped them all stay put!
Now for the dry ice! I placed the small plastic cup on top of the cookies and frosting, and used more frosting and coconut to hold it in place. This was where I put about a 1-inch chunk of dry ice and poured a few tablespoons of hot water over the top of it to make it ‘melt’ (I think ‘sublime’ is the technical term?) and turn into gas/steam.
Make this recipe? Or any other project involving dry ice! Let me know how it went - or find me on Instagram and tag @IntensiveCakeUnit in your photo!