According to Mexican tradition, on the Day of the Dead, the elegant skull represents both the death of beauty and the beauty of death, a cake decorator’s paradox.
The decorations on this skull cake were crafted from modeling chocolate. The cake was also wrapped in a combination of white modeling chocolate and fondant; some fondant was needed in this case for its elasticity because of the highly contoured nature of the skull shape.
In terms of construction, the skull shape starts out very simply as a half sphere cake. Follow this link to read how I bake and fill half sphere cakes. I only carve the top part skull, then form the lower jaw bone later out of modeling chocolate. It’s easier to make a skull cake that way. Read on to see how.
- half sphere of cake, baked, filled, & chilled.
- 3 cups vanilla buttercream
- 1 batch white modeling chocolate
- small balls of pink, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet, & bittersweet modeling chocolate
- 1 cup of fondant
- piping bags with melted white and dark chocolate, for piping
- toasted whole almonds
- rock candy
- cocoa powder
- 12” round corrugated circle
- modeling chocolate equipment
- daisy plunger cutters, set of 4
- vine cutters
- round cutters, assorted 2” through 3 ½” diameter
- large sphere veiner, two piece, for the round flowers
- petunia cutter & veiner set (or equivalent set with 3 cutters for tri-toned flowers)
- medium silicone molds, for storing flowers
2. Plunge a 2” round cutter into the face to remove chunks to form eye orbits (if you happen to have a large melon baller, that would also work well). Carve out the nasal cavity and hollow the cheeks. End the cake at the maxilla, omitting the mandible (it’s easier to make the lower jaw entirely out of of modeling chocolate later on).
5. Mix one part white fondant with one part white modeling chocolate and knead them until they are blended. Here, the fondant provides the elasticity needed to cover such a contoured shape while the modeling chocolate improves the flavor of the finish. However if desired, fondant alone would work well for covering this design. Roll the mixture out to a thickness of 1/6” and pull it over the frosted skull (cake must be cold), stretching it into the eye orbits and nasal cavity. If it tears inside of the cavities, that’s okay because those parts will eventually be concealed anyway. Trim the excess chocolate/fondant from around the base of the cake.
8. To make vines, combine different shades of green and yellow modeling chocolate to achieve three different hues of green. Roll the three greens out into 1/16” inch thick sheets. Cut the sheets with vine cutters.
9. Roll out the remaining colors of modeling chocolate to 1/16” thickness then cut small flowers using small plunger molds.
12. Place the flowers and foliage on and around the cake. Pipe white, dark, and colored chocolate to add detail and design. For more info on piping, follow this link to see a video on how to make paper cones for piping chocolate. Fill the jaw opening with melted chocolate and the nasal cavity with rock candy. Fill each eye orbit with a modeling chocolate petunia. Add foliage to evoke the look of an overgrown relic.
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Sample the books
Cake Decorating with Modeling Chocolate
The Ultimate Modeling Chocolate Resource Guide
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