Wednesday, August 31, 2011

I am Tik-Tok. I am De-lic-i-ous!

This last week I wanted to make a surprise birthday cake for a friend named Freddy. There was little doubt what the theme would be - Freddy is an avid Return to Oz fan who adores a certain Tik-Tok. So the subject matter wasn't what was troubling me. It was how to do it! These things must be done delicately!

I had already decided on a fairly fancy dinner of Beef Wellington, so I wanted a special dessert. I remembered a cake developed by Julia Child called le bombe aux trois chocolats. When I thought of that cake, which is molded in a round mixing bowl, I knew what had to be done. It would become Tik-Tok's face. Here he is!

As I mentioned, Julia Child's recipe bombe au trois chocolates is a molded cake. The outer layer is brownie-like, carefully fitted into the bowl, and filled with a very dark, rich chocolate mousse. Then melted chocolate is poured over the whole thing. Those are the three chocolates (trois chocolats) in the name of the recipe.

My first step was to select a bowl the size I wanted the finished cake to be. Then I made a paper pattern to be used to cut out the assorted shapes of cake needed to line the bowl. I cut a small circle for the bottom of the bowl and a large one for the top. I then divided the side of the bowl into eight wedge-shaped pieces. I spent a lot of time on the side-pieces. You could do it much sloppier and it would probably work fine. But I have a perfectionist streak.

Next I made the mousse (shown at left). After folding in the egg whites it looks a lot like ice cream! There was almost a pound of chocolate in the mousse. I used Trader Joe's 72% Dark Belgian Chocolate, supplemented with a couple squares of unsweetened chocolate. This mousse also contains a pack of gelatin to give it a bit more body to keep it stiff.

Next up was making the sheet of Brownie Fudge Cake. After it cooled about ten minutes I removed it from the pan and flipped it over. It was baked with a layer of wax paper under it to facilitate the flipping.

I then laid out the paper pattern pieces on the cake and carefully cut them out. I made a small circle for the bottom of the bowl, a big circle for the top, and eight angled side-pieces. Note how each edge of the angled pieces is slightly curved to make a good fit!

Here are all the cake pieces cut out. I then lined the molding bowl with plastic wrap for easy unmolding and arranged the pieces in the bowl pretty-side out. I found that despite my careful patterning of the eight sides I still had a half-inch gap to fill. So I simply cut a little wedge out of the cake scraps to fill the gap and made a mental note to hide the patch under the chocolate drizzle.
Here I began filling the cake-lined bowl with the chilled mousse. For a bit of additional support I added a layer of cake scraps when the bowl was half filled with mousse.

When the bowl was almost full, I topped it all with the big circle of cake, pulled plastic wrap over the whole thing, and refrigerated it overnight, still in the bowl, with a weighted saucer on top.

Now to turn the cake into the Return to Oz Tik-Tok. I looked at photos and decided what details to use and whether anything could be done with preexisting materials. I knew I'd have to make/mold several parts, but the mustache seemed like it would be difficult to make from scratch.

I recalled that Godiva made some chocolate shells that I thought might work for the mustache. But they were made of milk chocolate and that dictated that his head be drizzled in milk, rather than dark, chocolate. So be it! I then thought, "Gosh, Tik-Tok's nose looks an awful lot like a Rolo!" So that's what I used. His eye sockets and ears were created by pouring the melted chocolate on wax paper until it was about an 1/8" thick. I used some circular cookie cutters to cut the shapes while the chocolate was still a bit soft. The inner cut-outs from the eyes became Tik-Tok's ears. The trickiest part was making his hat. In the photo above you can see I've positioned a piece of paper to get the curve around the head correct. I then drew another curve to create the outer brim which gave me a pattern. I cut the hat shape out of a piece of thin foam core and used the resulting hole as a mold. I taped the foam mold to the countertop over some wax paper, poured in melted chocolate, and scraped off the excess. When it was cool I popped the chocolate hat brim out of the foam core. Voila!

Here is the cake soon after I poured on the melted chocolate and began positioning the facial elements. I made rivets for the hat by using an exacto-knife to saw the points off chocolate chips. I made six facial rivets the same way. I attached the rivets by using melted chocolate for glue. Once all the chocolate work was done I chilled him to firm everything up.

The last step was the eyes. I squirted blue glitter cake gel and green cake gel into his eye sockets, mixed them a bit, and smoothed the mixture with a spatula. Then with my (incredibly clean) finger dipped in water I smoothed it out more. And then Tik Tok was ready. He was a big hit at the birthday dinner. He was very tasty, too!


James C. Wallace II said...

As a chocoholic, you know you're killing me with all this talk of chocolate and icing and brownies and stuff!!! Agony!!!!

Caroline Spector said...


I loved this blog post! And you have some mad damn skills in the kitchen to make this and Beef Wellington in one meal. That Freddy is a lucky fellow to have you as a friend.

Tim Tucker said...

*jaw drops*

David, I am so impressed! I didn't realize all the work that went into this cake.

I feel like a short order cook compared to you.

Glenn Ingersoll said...

Tik-Tok tastes ter-rif-fic!

by the looks of 'im, anyway!

Bill Campbell said...

What a great idea - and so well executed!

Anonymous said...

this is awesome! have you ever thought of making a limestone pie cake? i have been looking around the internet to see if i could find anyones examples for my sisters birthday but as far as i can tell no one has attempted to make them! all i can find are pics of the movies cake.