Sunday, December 6, 2009

Playing with Food for Christmas

I know, I know, we're always told not to play with our food. Most of the time that's true. When it comes to crafty ministry, though, you'll find fun ways to play and have a tasty treat.

Snowman Cake

Long before all of the fancy shaped pans were available, cake mix companies offered ideas for cutting layer cakes to create fancy shapes. This was always one of my favorites, because I love coconut cake. It makes a lovely presentation, and serves a good sized group.

* White cake mix or recipe for two-layer cake (two boxes or recipes)
* Fluffy white frosting (enough for the double cake recipe)
* Shredded coconut (optional if allergies are a concern or you just don't care for coconut)
* Gum drops for features and buttons
* String type red candy (licorice, Twizzlers or Red Vines) for scarf
* Nine-inch cake pans (two)
* Muffin tin (one tin of six or twelve holes)

Step 1

Cover a platter or cutting board with aluminum foil, waxed paper or any desired food-safe covering.

Step 2 - Baking

Prepare the pans as directed by the cake mix or recipe. Make one box or recipe of cake batter.  Fill one muffin hole half-full and set aside. Divide the remaining batter between the two cake pans. Bake and cool as directed. Repeat with the second batch, except bake the two muffins as well. (Note: If you have sufficient pans and a large enough oven, feel free to do all of the mixing and baking as one step.)

Step 3 - Assemble layers

Level two of the layers across the top.  Spread frosting on these two layers. Add a plain layer to each of the frosted layers.

Step 4 -  Shaping the snowman

Cut a shallow arc from the side of the two cakes. Make the arcs as equal as possible because these will become the arms. Frost the cakes along the cut line.

Place the cakes as shown in the diagram - cut side to cut side - to form the snowman's body. Frost the top and sides of the cakes.

Trim the muffins as necessary to form the head and be the same height as the body. Frost the layers of muffin together.  Place it at the top of the snowman's body. Frost head.

Align the cut arcs on the sides to form arms and frost in place.

Step 5 - Dressing the snowman

If you are a coconut nut, as I am, this is the time to sprinkle on lots of coconut snow.

Use gumdrops to form the facial features, for example, a line of red ones for the mouth, an orange one for the nose, green ones for the eyes. Black gumdrops make great buttons on his chest. Form a scarf from string-type candy such as licorice whips, Twizzlers or Red Vines.

And there you have it, a snowman layer cake ready to brighten your table and your palate.

Miscellaneous tips:

If your crowd isn't large enough to need the two-layer version, just use one box of mix or recipe and make it a sheet cake. Don't level the layers - the dome effect makes it look more like a three-dimensional snowman.

Other candies can be used to decorate - basically anything round and colorful will fill the bill.

Individual Snowmen

Little individual snowmen make fun party favors, desserts, place cards or projects for kids at a party.

Regular sized marshmallows
Miniature marshmallows
Food coloring
Graham crackers

Pretty simple to assemble: skewer two regular and one miniature marshmallow on a toothpick. Use a toothpick dipped in food coloring to add features. Two more toothpicks form the arms. Stick the end of the toothpick holding the snowman together into a graham cracker.

Add more miniature marshmallows around the base for stage-setting.

Miscellaneous tips:

For very young children, use uncooked spaghetti instead of toothpicks.

Use white frosting to cover the graham cracker and secure the snowman in a fluffy field of white. (You can add coconut, too!)

Dots of hot fudge ice cream sauce (but not heated) work as features and buttons.

Use cupcakes instead of graham crackers to make the little snowmen even more festive.

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