Thursday, November 10, 2011

A Sweet Thank You to our Veterans: Chocolate Camo Cake

It's easy to get caught up in our lives- in work, in social events, in the daily grind.  It's so simple to forget about our history and the people who have served our country.  Whether you agree with politicians or not, and whether you support the issues going on overseas in the present (or in the past), one thing that I think all people can agree with is that our country's soldiers face a great deal of danger.  They bravely face these dangers doing what they feel they can to serve our country.  Today is a day to honor these soldiers, those who have left their families and risked their lives serving our country.

My grandfather served in World War II, and my father and uncle both served in Korea.  Once a month my grandma makes dinner for a handful of veterans as a way to say thank you.  These men have certainly faced a lot- from head injuries to emotional turmoil.

This month I made them a cake.

I love this chocolate camo and wanted to share the technique with you.  It can be prepared ahead of time to make a simple, easy decoration on a cake.  It also beats flowers and ruffle boarders for guys who hate frilly stuff (soldiers and hunters are prime examples).

You will need:
Black Chocolate Wafers (Merkens black chocolate tastes like Oreos.  Not even kidding)
Dark Chocolate Wafers
Milk Chocolate Wafers
Dark Green Chocolate Wafers
White Chocolate Wafers
Parchment Paper (needs to be slightly longer than the sides of the cake you want to cover or size pieces you want to have)

The amount you need will vary depending on the size cake you're making, but using so many colors I needed maybe one third to one half cup of each color (my estimates are extremely generous) for a quarter sheet cake.

Melt the chocolate.  I used a nifty warming tray my mom had that becomes a buffet server.  This particular warming tray had temperature control, allowing me to set it on low and put the chocolate in glass dishes in a water bath.  (I have used a warming tray in the past without temperature control, but for whatever reason lately it has been burning the more delicate chocolates- white and colors.)

Chocolate burns easily so you want to melt your chocolate slow and low.  Other options include microwaving in 15 second intervals.  Dark and milk chocolate can be melted at half power.  White and colored chocolate should be melted at 40% power.  I've been told that putting chocolate in glass dishes in a water bath in an electric skillet set low also works.

I melted black chocolate, milk chocolate, dark chocolate, and green chocolate.  I didn't like the original color of the green chocolate so I added a little bit of the dark chocolate to it to make it fit in the color scheme better.  I also made light brown by adding some milk or dark chocolate to white chocolate and light green by adding some of my darker green to white.  I don't have exact amounts, but add a couple pieces or a small spoonful of the colored chocolate at a time until you get a color that you like.

Once your chocolate is melted, you will start doling it out onto the parchment paper.  I made mine slightly longer than the sides of my cake just to make sure it fit nicely.  I work from dark to light in my chocolate, to keep dark chocolate from showing through lighter chocolate as the new layers inevitably overlap the old.
I used another piece of parchment paper as a guide to make sure my line was straight.

Make spaced out drops of black chocolate with a spoon.  You don't need a lot of chocolate on the spoon.  Spread it around a little in different shapes to resemble the random shapes in traditional camouflage.  Once you finish with one color it should be somewhat set (unless you're some kind of crazy speed demon you don't need to wait any), it just needs to be set enough to not smear into the next color.
Black chocolate.  Remember that you have several other colors too add!

Add dark chocolate in the same manner, overlapping on some of the black pieces and adding some pieces not touching the black.  Try to make it look random.  Follow suit with dark green, milk, light green, and light brown chocolates.
Adding dark chocolate
Adding dark green chocolate.
A few spaces left to fill in.
Completed Chocolate Sides

Fill in any empty spaces.  You'll know what color to use by what is already surrounding the empty spaces.

Frost the cake, making the frosting a little heavier on the sides.  This will make sure that all of the chocolate is attached to the cake, allow something for the somewhat bumpy chocolate pieces to sink into and help keep it from cracking.

Next, determine exactly how long you need your pieces of chocolate to be. (I laid a piece of parchment paper next to the cake and marked it to determine an exact length, then was able to lay that same piece next to the chocolate.)  I peeled the strips of chocolate off the paper first, then cut the pieces of chocolate to that length.  To prevent cracking make sure the flat side of the chocolate is down and use a hot knife (if you still have your warming tray on just stick the blade against the surface for a few seconds to warm it).

Place the cut pieces flat side out on the sides of the cake, sinking the rough side into the frosting.

I know it's a hunting cake, but this camo looks awesome on chocolate frosting!

Voila!  Simple, masculine, camouflage cake.

Thank you to all who have served.

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