This month’s We Should Cocoa challenge, set by Chele from Chocolate Teapot, was to make something green.
Initial thoughts that went through my mind involved mint, mint choc chip, lime etc – but I thought all of those seemed too obvious, too easy.
So naturally, the next thing my mind turned to was a giant, green crocodile cake. But of course.
This cake was an all-day effort, and just a tad over the top as it wasn’t for any special occassion, but I am so, so, stupidly proud of it!
I’ve never made a shaped or sculpted cake before, and I’m pretty inexperienced at fondant icing, so I think for a first attempt this turned out really well!
It was far too big for any of my cake boards or plates, so I ended up using a foil covered chopping board – which doesn’t make for the best photos, so apologies for that!
I just love his little crocodile face…
Crocodile Chocolate Cake
For the cake (recipe from Food & Wine, posted on A Whisk & A Spoon)
- 60g dark chocolate, melted
- 3/4 cup vegetable oil
- 200g caster sugar
- 1 egg
- 240g plain flour
- 42g cocoa powder
- 1 tbsp bicarbonate of soda
- pinch of salt
- 250ml buttermilk
- 250ml strong coffee
Grease and flour a 10″ bundt tin. Let the melted chocolate cool a little before you start, then whisk in the oil, followed by the sugar then the egg. Sift together the flour, bicarb, cocoa and salt in one bowl, and combine the buttermilk and coffee in a jug. Sift in half of the dry mix and pour in half of the wet mix, and whisk until no lumps remain. Repeat with the second half of the dry and wet mixtures – you will end up with a very runny cake batter, but that’s ok. Bake at 180 degrees for about 45 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean. Leave in the tin for 10-15 minutes, then remove and leave to cool completely on a wire rack.
To shape the cake, first cut the ring into three pieces:
The top will be the body of the crocodile, the piece on the left the tail and the piece on the right the head.
Swap the head and tail pieces around, so they form an ‘S’ shape:
To shape the head, trip the edge so it’s a bit tapered, like this:
Then cut off a piece diagonally, so it’s flatter at the tip of the nose:
To make the tail lie flat, cut it diagonally lengthways, setting aside the bit you’ve taken off the bottom:
Using the bits of cake you’ve trimmed off, cut four roughly equal sized pieces to use as the legs:
Now you’re ready to ice!
For the icing:
- 75g dark chocolate, melted
- 150g butter
- 200g icing sugar
- 3tbsp cocoa powder
- splash of milk
- 750g fondant icing
- green food colouring
- black food colouring/dark chocolate
Beat the butter to soften, then beat in the melted chocolate. Sift in the icing sugar and cocoa powder and keep beating (an electric mixer will help no end) until light and fluffy. Add a dash of milk if the mixture is too thick, then spread a thin layer all over the cake, to act as a crumb coat and stick all the pieces together.
Leave to set in the fridge for half an hour, then spread the rest of the buttercream all over the cake, smoothing the edges to get the shape of the crocodile pretty much right.
Set aside a small ball of white fondant icing, then add about 1tsp green food colouring to the rest and knead in. I used gel colouring as you need a lot more of the liquid to get a good colour – it will seem like it will never be dark enough, but mix it in thoroughly before adding any more.
Roll out the green icing between two sheets of clingfilm, to stop it sticking. I didn’t measure it, but it needs to be large enough to cover the whole cake – I would guess about 12″ wide by 24″ long. Drape over the top of the cake, then gently smooth down over the sides before trimming around the edges.
I didn’t quite roll it large enough to cover one of the legs, so I patched him up with a spare cutting – and a bandage to hide his wound…
To make the eyes, roll some of the green cuttings into a ball about the size of an apricot, then roll a slightly small ball of white icing. Press the white onto the green, then cut in half so you have two half-spheres. Press onto the top of your crocodile’s head, using a little water to stick them down.
To make the pupils, you could dye a little of the icing black, but as I didn’t have any blck food colouring I piped on some dark chocolate instead.
Use a cocktail stick to draw on a smiley mouth, and something round to indent two nostrils – I used the end of a wooden spoon.
Press the cocktail into the ends of his feet to make toes:
And finally draw small triangles all the way down his back, to give your croc a bit of a scaly look.
And there you have it – a very amateur but tasty crocodile cake!