My fellow Eurasian friend Xavier is leaving the UK to try out Hong Kong for a bit. As I grew up in Hong Kong and chose to come over to Blighty, it’s the inverse move I made – so all in all: Exciting times for Xavi. When I offered to make a cake for his leaving do held at one of my fav Vietnamese places on Kingsland Road, Song Que, I got this response:
“I don’t care what flavour cake you make… …So long as it looks like Cookie Monster”
I’ve never made a novelty cake before. I knew I’d have to make an awful lot of icing to make that furry looking decoration. I was initially contemplating colouring desiccated coconut blue and slathering it on a pre-iced blue cake. But the thought of how much desiccated coconut I would need or how I would even get the two blue elements the same shade was driving me a bit potty so I opted for the icing technique – because no one needs a blue cakey melt down. I didn’t want to send all the guests into an instantaneous diabetic coma so I went for a more neutrally flavoured cake of banana, pineapple with walnuts and cashews. The following will make a 3 layered sponge cake with 20cm cake tins and a shed load of frosting.
Ingredients for Cookie Monster Cake:
300 g caster sugar
300 ml sunflower oil
270 g banana peeled, roughly chopped
1 tsp cinnamon
300 g plain flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp teaspoon vanilla extract
100 g tinned pineapple, chopped into small pieces
100 g walnuts and cashews - I went with a 70:30 split
Oven to 170°C. Roughly chop the nuts and pineapple, set aside. With your electric or stand mixer: incorporate the sugar, eggs, oil, banana, vanilla and cinnamon at medium speed.
In a separate bowl, mix the flour and bi-carb. Add this to your wet mixture bit by bit until even. Finally stir in the pineapple and nuts with a wooden spoon.
Smear your cake tins with butter and line the bottom with parchment. Evenly pour in your mixture between the three tins and bake for 20-30 minutes. Mine took a bit longer so check with a skewer when they are looking golden brown on the top. Once the skewer comes out clean, take them out and leave them to cool in their pans while you sort out the icing.
Icing & Decoration:
900 g icing sugar
375 g cream cheese
150 g unsalted butter
1 bottle of blue food colouring
Black food colouring
A couple of chocolate chip cookies
You’re meant to mix the butter and icing sugar first before you add the cream cheese, then mix it all at medium to high speed for 5 minutes. I just whacked all three into my stand mixer and it turned out okay. But I really must recommend you roughly make a teepee with a tea towel because icing sugar really goes everywhere, especially at these huge quantities.
Before you add your food colouring prepare your cake. Slice the rounded top off your base layer (keep these tops for later). Blob a bit of icing onto your plate or whatever you’ll be serving the cake on. Stick base layer on said blob. Get your palette knife and spread some of your plain cream cheese frosting on top of your base layer. Cut the dome off your middle layer. Place on your base layer. Frost top. Place your final cake layer on top, I didn’t slice the top off this as I thought the rounded dome helped with the face shape.
Remove 2-3 tablespoons of the frosting and mix in some black colouring for the mouth. Using a mixer again, you can now add the blue colouring to the rest of your frosting to make your desired blue colour.
Some of your cut off cake tops
Tennis ball sized amount of natural marzipan
2 large chocolate buttons
2 tsp Black food colouring
Make those eyes! With the cut off sponge tops, use a small cup or egg cup to trace around and cut a couple of circular pieces of sponge with a knife. Roll out your marzipan to 5mm, cut two large circles out and wrap each round a sponge disk. Coat the tops of your chocolate buttons with black food colouring. Let these dry before fixing them on to the marzipan with a bit of frosting (I didn’t let them dry enough as I was running a bit late – error).
Use a palette knife and spread a thin but even coat of blue frosting around your whole cake. Affix those big marzipan eyes onto the top of the cake. Pipe out your black mouth shape. Fit a clean piping bag with a star nozzle, fill it with the blue icing. Pipe. Pipe. Pipe. Furry muppet monster! Shove the cookies into his mouth. You’re ready to go.
By the time it came to eat and cut the cake, Cookie Monster’s eyes were melting…causing him to cry black deathly tears as I ruthless carved into his face with a novelty cake knife that serenaded out tinny versions of Happy Birthday and the Wedding March. Outstanding.
Bon Voyage, Xavi. I hope you fall in love with Hong Kong, 一路順風!