Everything seems to be coming up zombies lately, from AMC’s “The Walking Dead” to this summer’s “World War Z” starring Brad Pitt, based on the book by Max Brooks. You don’t need to do the whole living dead thing in order to really get involved. We suggest a gentler (and tastier) route to zombiedom: zombie cake! Rick and Sasha Reichart, authors of Extreme Cakeovers, were kind enough to share their recipe for zombie cake with suvudu – no human flesh required.
Level of difficulty: 2.5
1 (13 × 19-inch) cake board
Small offset spatula
Small rolling pin
#4 round artist’s paintbrush
1-inch flat-head paintbrush
1/2-inch flat-head paintbrush
1 (7.25-ounce) box instant macaroni and cheese
1 (8 × 12-inch) sheet cake (1/4 sheet) with chocolate frosting
1-1/2 cups chocolate frosting (1 16-ounce can)
Cornstarch, for dusting
2 Tootsie Fruit Rolls: 1 green and 1 vanilla
8 large white gumballs
Liquid food coloring: blue, green, red, and yellow
1 (16-ounce) frozen pound cake (we use Sara Lee family-size), thawed
3 cups vanilla frosting (2 16-ounce cans)
Gel paste food coloring in black
1 individual vanilla pudding cup
5 pieces Trident White gum
2 (2.12-ounce) Big League Chew packs, Ground Ball Grape flavor
1 rope Twizzlers Pull ’n’ Peel, cherry flavor
1 individual strawberry Jell-O cup
1 (5-ounce) bag gummi worms
15 to 20 whole Oreo cookies, blended in a food processor
Instructions (Finished cake photo below)
1. Prepare the macaroni. Cook the macaroni according to the package directions, discarding the cheese mixture. Strain, and toss lightly in vegetable oil. Set aside 1 cup of noodles.
2. Prepare the cake. Remove the frosting decorations. Put the cake on a 13 × 19-inch cake board and attach with cake glue.
In a medium bowl, stir 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons of chocolate frosting until smooth. Frost the cake with a small offset spatula. Dip the spatula in hot water, shake off the excess, and smooth the frosting. Clean up the board and refrigerate the cake.
3. Make the eyeballs. Dust a work surface with cornstarch. Roll out a green Tootsie Fruit Roll. Using the mouth of a dry empty plastic water bottle, stamp out 4 circles, pressing firmly while twisting. Using a #4 round paintbrush, brush the circles with water and then attach them to 4 gumballs. Tint a vanilla Tootsie
Fruit Roll blue with 2 drops blue liquid food coloring, kneading in 1 drop at a time. Roll it out, stamp out 4 blue rounds, and attach them to the remaining 4 gumballs. Set the eyeballs aside in an area dusted with cornstarch, not letting them touch.
4. Shape the head. Lightly trim the top of the pound cake to make it flat. Reduce its length to 9 inches by cutting equal amounts off each end. Put the cake horizontally on a work surface. Cut the cake into one 5-inch piece and one 4-inch piece. Reorient the 4-inch piece vertically, center it in front of the 5-inch piece, and attach it with chocolate frosting.
At the top left and right corners of the head, measure in 3/4 inch diagonally toward the center of the cake and cut off the corners. To form the cheekbones, relocate the 2 cutoff corners directly under the 5-inch piece, on either side of the 4-inch piece with the corners facing out, as shown in the diagram. Attach with frosting.
Measure 1-1/2 inches from the bottom left corner of the head and make a mark. Line up a knife angled between the mark and the bottom of the left cheekbone and slice through. Slide the piece around to the bottom of the cake, pointed side down, to form the chin. Attach with frosting.
The cake should now resemble the zombie head shown in the diagram. Using your fingers and thumbs, press down lightly into the cake to create the cavities (shown in gray) for 2 eye sockets, one for the mouth, and another for an exposed area of the brain.
5. Place and frost the head. Put the sheet cake vertically on a work surface. Using your hand and an offset spatula, lift the zombie head onto the sheet cake, flush with the top. In a bowl, tint 1 cup vanilla frosting gray using black food coloring. Frost the head. Don’t worry about crumbs in the frosting because another layer will be applied over it. Refrigerate until firm, 15 to 20 minutes.
In a small bowl, mix 1/2 cup vanilla frosting with 16 drops green, 1 drop red, and 5 yellow drops liquid food coloring. In a separate bowl, tint 1/4 cup vanilla frosting black.
Using a 1-inch paintbrush, loosely apply the green frosting to the cake to resemble decayed flesh, letting parts of the gray frosting show through. Using a 1/2-inch paintbrush, apply black frosting to the insides of the eye sockets and the mouth.
6. Make the oozing brain. In a bowl, mix three quarters of an individual vanilla pudding cup with 1/4 cup of the cooked macaroni and 4 drops of liquid red food coloring, creating a rose color. Spoon the brain mixture onto the head as shown in the photo. Use the 1/2-inch paintbrush to apply some of the red pudding mixture randomly on the face over the green frosting.
7. Decorate the face. In the mouth, press the Trident White gum pieces into the cake to make the teeth, 3 on the top and 2 on the bottom.
Fill a zip-top plastic bag with the black frosting and cut 1/4 inch off the tip. Pipe the frosting around the eye sockets and the mouth, and make 2 teardrop openings for the nose and 2 piped lines for the right cheek.
Scatter the Big League Chew as the hair, letting it flow over the sheet cake and onto the board. In a small bowl, stir 1/4 cup vanilla frosting until smooth; spoon it into a plastic bag and cut 1⁄8 inch off the tip. In another bowl, tint 1/4 cup vanilla frosting black; fill a plastic bag with the frosting and cut 1⁄8 inch off the tip. Pipe black squiggle lines all over the hair, and repeat with vanilla frosting squiggles over the black.
Remove a strand from the Twizzlers Pull ’n’ Peel and cut three 3-inch pieces. Insert them into the left eye socket. Cut one 4-inch piece and put it under the right eye socket. Stir the Jell-O to form chunks, and spoon small amounts into the mouth, the left eye socket, and the brain. Sprinkle a few pieces of the cooked macaroni in the mouth and add a small amount of the remaining oozing brain mixture. Drape 2 gummi worms from the mouth.
Put a green eyeball in the right eye socket and a blue eyeball on the left cheek. With the black frosting bag used for the hair, pipe a dot in each pupil and a line around the iris.
8. Finish the cake. Using an offset spatula, smear chocolate frosting on the board around the sheet cake. Sprinkle Oreo cookie crumbs over the sheet cake and press them into the sides, letting whatever falls remain.
Scatter the remaining gummi worms, macaroni, and chunks of Jell-O around the cake. Arrange the remaining eyeballs around the sides. Then pipe the iris and pupil on each eyeball with black frosting.