Getting the monkey off my back
I kid you not, one of the most popular search terms that brings people to my blog is "monkey-shaped cake." I blogged it once -- barely a mention -- a year ago, and also mentioned a "bunny-shaped cake," which I see in the search terms occasionally, but usually only in spring, and not nearly as often as "monkey." Every time I see "monkey-shaped cake" in the stats, I think, "I've gotta blog the cakes." That meant finding the recipe and looking for pictures and I'd always put it off -- until last night! So, if you would like to know how to make a monkey- or bunny-shaped cake -- or even a different animal-shaped cake (it's adaptable, you'll see, and you're all creative) -- step right up. I'm getting this monkey off my back!
Dateline: April 1995, or ca. 10 B.D.C. (Before Digital Camera, hence I found one lousy photo of the bunny cake I made, none of the monkey). Alison's birthday was on Easter that year and Woman's Day magazine had an issue earlier in the month with an Easter-Bunny Cake pictured on the front. No-brainer, eh? It looks like a followed the directions to the T, except I used Hershey's Chocolate Kisses for buttons, and looks like M&Ms or Skittles in place of the bow at the neck, and I marched four candles down on either side of the buttons to celebrate eight joyous years of Alison.
Six days later*, it was 10 candles (artfully arranged, I'm sure) on a monkey cake in celebration of a delightful first decade with Katie. I pretty much made the same cake, but cut the smallest cake baked into two half-circle-ish things for the ears close to the head, used two different flavors/colors of chocolate frosting (lighter inside the ears, on the face, and on the belly), and I distinctly recall using Hershey Nuggets for the tail -- making a swirly trail of frosting to use as glue and stuck Nuggets end-to-end to make a nice, long monkey tail. Can you picture it in your mind's eye? It was darn cute.
Basically, it uses two boxes of pound cake mix (prepared as directed), two cans of frosting, and your choice of assorted candies, cupcakes and/or marzipan (or whatever) for the trims -- jelly beans, licorice, hard candies, soft candies, chocolate sweet, sour -- whatever turns your crank and/or fits the theme. Rather than being baked in pans, the cake is baked in three ovenproof bowls (all greased and floured): approx. 3/4 cup of the batter is put into a custard cup, 2 cups into a 1-quart bowl, and the rest into a 2-1/2-quart bowl. Bake them all at the same time in a 325-degree oven; the cup for 25-30 minutes, the medium bowl for 35-40 minutes, the large bowl for 50-55 minutes -- testing your bowls of cake, of course, as your mileage may vary. Cool them all for a few minutes before turning onto a rack to cool completely. Cut and trim the custard-cup cake to make ears of whatever shape you need and arrange with the head and body, maybe using a bit of frosting to "glue" the pieces together somewhat and perhaps stick them to a foil-covered sheet or serving tray (whatever works) and then have fun decorating!
That was the first year I'd ever used pound cake mix instead of regular cake mix for birthday cakes (it's sturdier) and the girls -- all of them -- LOVED it. So there you have it! The guilt monkey's off my back!
*(And then, three days after that, we'd have celebrated Maddy's fourth year -- usually, by the time it's her birthday, we're sick of cake in any form and no matter how much we loved it. We probably had donuts!)