I have a great fondness for the writing of Neil Gaiman, so when the movie version of his book Coraline was released, I didn’t expect to find myself sitting in the theatre completely ignoring several seconds of dialogue while I tried to memorize the details of a birthday cake.
A scene from the movie Coraline (produced by Laika Entertainment).
But that’s what happened and this article is the result of that missed dialogue. Here’s a cake
perfect for Coraline Birthday parties or Coraline Halloween celebrations (tell me you don’t expect to see children with some sort of safety-approved version of black button eyes this Halloween), this cake is my interpretation of the Other Mother’s cake as presented in the movie — tall chocolate topped with delightfully runny pink icing.
Be forewarned: this cake requires three batches of frosting (and one’s tricky) plus a goodly bit of patience (or maybe the patience part was just me experimenting with “dripping icing” recipes). If you’re looking for an easy Coraline cake, check out the Coraline Button Cakes.
Because of the cream cheese and milk in the drippy frosting, this cake should be refrigerated until time to serve.
The Other Mother’s cake is made with three 9″ rounds, so if using a box mix (I used Betty Crocker’s SuperMoist Dark Chocolate), you need two boxes. Bake 4 – 9″ rounds of the cake of your choice. You only use three of the rounds for this cake, but you can use the fourth layer as a practice cake for the drippy icing or turn it into a Button Cake.
After baking, level the cake layers. Use either a “cake leveler” or carefully cut through each cake layer with a large knife.
Make a batch of pink buttercream frosting. I made the Butteriest Buttercream Recipe. Prior to adding the coloring, set aside 1/4 cup of uncolored frosting. For coloring, I used Wilton’s Gel Coloring, “Rose”.
Frosting between layers.
Place one layer on a cake board or plate. Frost with the pink icing, but don’t go all the way to the edge. Because the sides of this cake are frosted with brown icing, you don’t want the pink squooshing out and then have you spending time trying to cover pink with brown. Frost between all three layers with pink frosting.
Frost the top of the cake. This layer of frosting is not the “drippy” layer, but it does provide a moisture barrier between the drippy layer and the cake. You should have some frosting leftover, set aside to use for piping at the base of the cake.
Chocolate frosting on sides of cake (before smoothing).
Make a batch of dark brown buttercream frosting. I used the Chocolate Buttercream Frosting Recipe, but instead of regular cocoa, I used Hershey’s Dark Chocolate Cocoa — that’s what makes the frosting such a lovely dark brown (which contrasts beautifully with the pink frosting). Frost the sides of the cake. For easy frosting, I used a pastry bag with a frosting tip (it’s so much faster and easier than spreading).
1 – 8 oz. package of cream cheese at room temperature
2 oz. butter (1/2 stick) at room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Pink coloring (same as coloring used for pink buttercream)
8-10 tablespoons milk
Recipe Note: It’s critical that the cream cheese be at room temperature. If you attempt this recipe with the cold cream cheese, you’ll likely end up with ugly white lumps of cream cheese in your icing.
Cream cream cheese and butter together.
Add one cup of powdered sugar and the vanilla to the cream cheese mixture. Mix thoroughly.
Add second cup of powdered sugar and two tablespoons of milk. Mix thoroughly.
Add up to a total of 10 tablespoons of milk (one tablespoon at a time) until the frosting is at the desired consistency (I used 8 tablespoons).
Just some of my practice drips.
This recipe makes a batch of frosting with enough for you to do some practice drips and, trust me, you should practice. The drippy frosting is easy enough — once you get the hang of it. The picture to the left is my practice. You can practice on leftover cake, a box, an old milk jug, whatever — what you practice on doesn’t matter, just practice.
Adding the drippy frosting.
Take a regular spoon (“teaspoon” size), scoop up some of the drippy frosting and hold the spoon perpendicular to the top of the cake and hold it just inside the edge of the cake. Hold the spoon just above the cake, so that the frosting drips off and flows over the edge. “Jackhammer” the spoon (without touching the cake) to encourage additional frosting to flow into the drip (the “jackhammers” are tiny, fast, up and down movements).
If you make a drip you don’t like, the best thing to do is to decide you really do like that drip. Don’t try to flow more icing over an existing drip — the excess weight will stress the drip and it will not fix the look of the drip. As I said earlier, trust me on this one.
Do a mix of short and long drips. The drama of the long drips is accentuated by the shorter drips.
Once you’ve finished with the drips, cover the top layer of buttercream with a thin layer of the drippy frosting.
Now, remember the 1/4 cup of plain colored buttercream that you set aside? Use that to pipe simple stars (or other shapes to your preference) to serve as candle holders on the top of the cake. Place candles in buttercream holders.
The Other Mother's Cake
About the candles — I was surprised to discover that my local supermarket (nor three others in the vicinity) didn’t carry simple pink birthday candles. I did finally find some at a local department store, but they also had some “extra-tall” pink candles. I bought some of both and I’m here to tell you that with this tall cake, the tall candles are almost a must. They really make a difference in the presentation of the cake.
Please note that the “drippy” frosting never fully hardens (it’s not supposed to), so use care in moving the cake. If you have to transport the cake in a vehicle, I recommend refrigerating for several hours prior to moving to make the frosting more stable. I haven’t had any problem with moving my cake around (though when I bumped it with my camera, sure enough, I ended up with pink icing on my camera). Just a note of caution born of experience.
Because of the cream cheese frosting (with an excess of milk), serve immediately or refrigerate until time to serve.
Jack makes his bid for being added to the cake blog.