Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Lego Robber Birthday Cake

The long-awaited Police Station he's been coveting for the last 5 months.  All 782 pieces of which he put together by himself.
Little Brother is a person of bordering-on-obsessive passions.  A couple of years ago, it was mail - our days revolved around the arrival of the mailman, the best present you could buy him was a box of envelopes, and his preschool teacher took to saving her junk mail for him, just to see his delight.  Our house was covered in folded pieces of scratch paper and ripped envelopes, and Little Brother spent the day with a tote slung over his shoulder and a cap on his head.  He was our own personal Jolly Pocket Postman.

Then somewhere along the way, his attention turned to cops and robbers, where it's been fixed for the last year or so (witness last year's birthday cake):

This year he added Lego to his list of loves, and to celebrate 4 turning into 5, asked for a "robber cake."  But not just any old robber - in his world, robbers look somewhat like this:
Lego's silicone cake mold (which you can still find on ebay and etsy) is too small to make a convincing birthday cake ... and you'd have to pay an exhorbitant $35+ for it.  So I came up with my own.  And in case you ever find yourself needing to make a Lego minifigure cake to grant the wishes of a small boy, here's how.

The cylindrical head is a key component of a Lego minifigure.  So I baked it in a tomato can - any 28oz can will do (peaches, pumpkin?),  just make sure it's not lined with plastic.  The body and legs were cut from sheet cakes.  I like to freeze the cakes first so they are easier to handle, plus it's nice to get that out of the way a week in advance and not be doing everything last minute.

The top of the cake in the can rose nicely to make a good dome shape for the robber's hat.  If you need a generic stud-topped head, just do what I did to make the neck - cut a circle into the center of the bottom, about 3/4" deep, then cut a slice from the end, being careful to cut just to the neck as you go around, and not through it.  Bevel the hard edge a little bit, and you've got a decent minifigure head.

The body and legs are pretty easy, especially if you have a minifigure on hand for guidance with proportions. 
And for the arms and hand, Twinkies (you may need to stick in a few toothpicks to keep them from rolling.)

Frost with your favorite icing (I was lazy so I used a star tip for most of it.)  Just be sure to use the right shade of Lego yellow for the head.
And there you have it, an edible rendition of this:
As posed by the 5-year-old. 

Guess who spends entire days being handcuffed and hauled off to jail (then told in a stage whisper to undo the cuffs while he's not looking so she can go steal the play money again)?  But really, not so bad when the officer is this cute.  I always did have a weakness for guys in uniform.

He now lives in the costume his brothers got him for his birthday.  I think I'm going to make him a striped shirt and black cap for Christmas.
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Thursday, September 15, 2011


Lego Chocolate synergy.  So, so much greater than the sum of its parts.
Four is turning five, and has asked for a Lego themed birthday party.  And looking around for Lego-themed stuff, I discovered the most wonderful piece of kitchen gadgetry:  silicone Lego minifigure ice cube trays.

Except, who would limit themselves to freezing water, when you can mold so many other things, like chocolate and crayon wax, for starters?  Here are the details.

Chocolate on chocolate on chocolate.  With Lego thrown in.  Can't go wrong with that.
For chocolate Lego minifigures, melt semi-sweet chocolate in the microwave (for 1 oz, on high for 1 minute, stir, then another 10-30 seconds more until smooth and liquid when stirred).  Each minifigure takes about 7 grams of chocolate, so figure on 2 oz to fill the 8-minifigure tray.  Drop the chocolate into the molds with a teaspoon, mounding slightly, then repeatedly tap the side of the mold quickly with your finger to let the chocolate settle and allow air bubbles to escape (it's a neat model of liquefaction).  Let it set in the refrigerator for 15-20 minutes, then pop them out by easing the sides apart and pressing them out from their body and toes (try to press the whole minifigure out evenly, because if you bend them too much you may lose a few toes).  It's incredibly easy, and the silicone releases so well there's pretty much no clean-up.

Whipped ganache frosting tops these cupcakes.

The frosting recipe is too good not to share, too:  1 cup heavy cream, heated to boiling.  Remove from heat, and stir in 4 oz chopped semi-sweet chocolate.  Stir until smooth, then chill.  When cold, whip at medium speed until thick (like whipped cream).  Pipe with a 1M tip in a rosette, starting at the center.  And the cake?  Boxed mix.  What, you think I'm that crazy?

When you run through your chocolate supply, look around the house for other things you can melt, like the bin of old crayons.

**(Updated:  see below)  Peel the crayons, break them into smaller chunks, and heat them in an old bowl in a pot of water until melted, then spoon into the molds.  It takes 5 grams of crayon wax to make a minifigure; if you only want to make one of each color, it's easier in terms of clean-up to take an old soup spoon and melt the crayon in that, held over a candle.  Cold crayon wax is a bear to get off of pots and bowls; if anyone has a (relatively non-toxic) solution beyond hot water and a scouring pad, let me know.  Let the wax cool, then pop out your minifigures like you did the chocolate.  It's addicting, I tell you.  If you stick a length of cotton twine in the minifigure before the wax cools, I bet you could even use them as candles.

So I was looking around at other Lego party ideas, after the fact of course (since when would I have had time before the party?) and came across the blog of a much cleverer and put-together woman who used the microwave to melt the crayons in the mold.  No clean-up, so much easier, just ignore my instructions here and check out hers.  Well, now I know silicone is microwave safe.

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