This is a long over due post but one that I just had to share. I made this Treasure Chest Cake for my Niece’s 4th birthday back in September and although it was nerve wracking for me, the results and reactions were just priceless and I’ll never forget how excited and happy she was.
Let me tell you a little something about this Niece of mine. Aside from the fact that shes the light of all of our lives, she is the smartest little lady I’ve ever met. Her favorite thing in the world is hunting for treasure. You know how kids tend to move from one obsession over another when they’re little? Not her. Shes been a die hard treasure hunter for the past 2 years. She has many chests and hides them so the pirates wont find them, and every time I see her she grabs her bucket and drags me around the house looking for some new finds. By this point, we are so dried out of loose change and shiny things that we tend to hide pennies for her to find. Maybe shes just smarter than everyone and figured out how to con money out of us. When she was really little she would waddle around hitting everyones pant pockets, and when they would jingled she’d say “Monies!”
Anyway, another interesting fact is that she HATES cake. And ice cream. She does like the frosting, though; and cookies and candy for sweets, but she rarely eats them. Shes a fruit and veggie girl. I hope that lasts. So, when it came to making this little lady a birthday cake, it was a challenge. One day, while I was doing my Pinterest obsessing, I saw a tutorial for wood grain fondant. My jaw dropped. Perfect for a treasure chest!! And if Im going to make a cake, why not fill it with treasure candy?! Best of both worlds. Well, 8 hours later, I had a cake. So, after it was made I hid it in the fridge. And when it was time for our treasure hunt, I said, “go look in the fridge” Her eyes lit up and her jaw dropped. She was speechless and it made my heart so happy. All she kept saying was “Can I play with it?!”
I know this is a long story, but its the main reason why I love cooking so much. I love making other people happy through food. Its such a rewarding experience.
I apologize in advance for the photographs. I wasn’t really planning on posting this until I saw how neat the wood grain was coming out. So, they are very spur of the moment snap shots and I hope you can see enough detail.
This is more of a tutorial for the wood grain fondant, as you can make the cake any way you’d like. I used 3 8×8 cakes for this recipe. One for the top and two for the bottom. I’ve also seen treasure chests made with loaf pans.
What You’ll Need:
+ Brown GEL food coloring (not the liquid drops)
+ Gold or yellow food coloring
+ lemon juice
+ Food safe brush
+ Cake of your choice, as well as frosting
+ Fun candies. I used gold coins, gold rocks, ring pops, candy necklaces, and M&M’s for some colorful “gems”
First thing you want to do is roll out the fondant to about 1/4 inch thick. Combine a few drops of the brown gel coloring with a few drops of lemon juice. Make a few dots randomly in the fondant. This will make the nail holes look in the wood. Place a drop of the food coloring mixture in each hole. (I used the end of a clean chop stick and just dotted it in there lightly). When you use your brush, it will sweep some of the food coloring out of the hole and make it darker in some spots. It’s amazing how it gives the wood realistic character.
Now, Dip your Brush in the lemon and gel mixture and make brush strokes in the same direction.
Now, you have to let this dry. It may take an hour or two, but it should no longer be sticky and fairly easy to work with without leaving fingerprints and smudges. Be sure to allow at least 5 hours, because depending on the humidity/temperature where you live, it will take different amounts of time to dry.
Once I layered my cakes with frosting in between, I decided it would be fun to cut a hole in the top layer and fill it with candy, sort of like a pinata cake. It just seemed more realistic to me to have treasure INSIDE the chest as well!
Now, it’s fairly easy to get the fondant on the cake. It definitely takes patience and time, but it will be rewarded. Firstly, Frost the entire outside of your cake. You now have two choices: Leave the fondant in one whole piece, or cut it into strips. I decided to do strips because it looked more like wooden planks, and I find it easier to work with a piece at a time compared to a whole big piece. So, just wrap the fondant strips around the whole cake, starting from the bottom, until it is completely covered. It took 3 strips for the bottom and about 5 for the top. I used some extra fondant and kneaded some yellow dye into it to make strips and a lock. I wish it had been golden, but oh well!
I hope this tutorial was helpful. If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to ask. As I said, I made this many months ago, so the details are starting to slip my mind and I may have left some things out.
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