House Rule: Don’t Waste Frosting
I’m not one to waste perfectly good frosting, so when I had leftover yellow cream cheese and chocolate frosting from making the Safari cupcakes, I froze it for another time. But honestly, when would I need or want a yellow confection again? To make bumble bees? A sun cake? Making cakes that look like objects is a rare occurrence for me … or so I thought.
Black Sesame Magic
I’ve been working on a new black sesame chocolate cake recipe and got the idea of using the pretty seeds as a decoration on the outside as well. Originally, I was thinking chocolate icing, but instead decided to dust off those 3rd grade art class skills and turn that yellow frosting orange for a jack-o-‘lantern cake.
As I’ve mentioned before, I’m no cake decorator, so I made a stencil with parchment paper to help shape to give this pumpkin a face. The pictures here are from my one and only attempt. I didn’t know how it’d turn out, but I think even with it’s imperfections, I think it’s pretty darn cute.
Once I got started, I realized that my frozen icing was only enough for the crumb coating on the cake and needed another full batch to frost the cake. Ha! My house rule had led my astray. Fortunately I used all of this batch of frosting (save for a few spoonfuls for “the house”) on this cake.
Below, you’ll find a guide for decorating your own jack-o-‘Lantern cake. I’m still working on a black sesame chocolate cake recipe with a more pronounced sesame flavor, so look for that in future post. For now, I’ve linked my go to chocolate cake recipe and cream cheese frosting recipe below. Feel free to use your own favorite layer cake recipe or even go with a cake mix and canned frosting if you like. Regardless, I’m sure your peeps will be happy to have such a bright and fun Halloween treat… in addition to the candy.
Shopping List – What you’ll need
- Chocolate Cake (Using Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa Powder)
- Chocolate Frosting
- Double recipe of Cream Cheese Frosting (or other white frosting) if using only cream cheese frosting
- Orange or yellow + red food coloring gels (I used Wilton Icing Color)
- Black Sesame Seeds (I used about 1/3 of a spice jar)
- Parchment paper
- Jack-o-Lantern face on a sheet of paper (find online, in a coloring book or at the store) OR make your own (I used 2 circle cookie cutters for the eyes, traced the lid of a takeout container to get the bottom of the mouth and drew the nose and jagged mouth with a pencil on paper
- Permanent Market to trace stencil
- Exact-o knife or scissors to cut out the parchment paper stencil
- Spatula or knife to spread frosting
- Butter knife
- Cake Board (optional but helpful if you’ll be transporting the cake)
- Bake 2 cake layers in 9 inch pans and let them cool according to your recipe directions
- Trace your jack-o-‘lantern face on parchment paper and cut out the negative space to create a stencil
- Make and/or color the white frosting with the food gels
- You will need enough orange frosting for a crumb coat (about 1.5 cups) + the exterior (about 3 cups).
- I used about 3/4 cup of chocolate frosting for the filling
- Place one cake layer (domed side facing up) on the cake board or plate* where you’re assembling and top with the filling frosting
- Place the 2nd cake layer (dome side facing down) on top and press lightly
- Cover the outside of the stacked cakes with a thin layer of frosting (crumb coat)
- This keeps the cake together so there are no crumbs in the frosting
- Chill the cake in the fridge for at least 30 minutes or overnight to set
- Cover the cake with remaining orange frosting
- I had to step out for 30 min at this point and the frosting firmed up a bit which made it less tacky and easier to remove the stencil
- Gently press the stencil on top and sprinkle on the sesame seeds in the openings pressing them lightly into the cake
- Remove the stencil and adjust/remove any rogue seeds (with fingers or a toothpick)
- If you’d like, use your fingers to press sesame seeds along the bottom edge of the cake.
- Use the back of the knife to make a swirl pattern around the stenciled face and…Ta da!
Assembly Photo Guide
Make It Your Own
Well there you have it. With a little time, you can make your own cute or spooky jack-o-lantern cake. You could also use this same idea to make other patterns or designs for Halloween – a witch on a broom, spell out “Boo!” . Of course, frosted cake+ stencil+ seeds or sprinkles could go in a million directions. If you give it a try, please leave a comment and let me know or tag on Instagram @letsgosho I’d love to see it.