Makes 1 bunny cake
This three-dimensional lop-eared bunny cake is ambitious, but a lot of fun to make. Color your bunny pink—or any other color you like—by coloring the icing and white chocolate with food coloring. Color the white chocolate with oil—or powder-based food coloring to prevent it from clumping. The chocolate shavings can be prepared a few days in advance, and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. For quick-and-easy fur, use shredded sweetened coconut instead of chocolate shavings. Either way, make sure to pat on while the icing is fresh. If you wait too long, the icing will form a crust and the fur won't stick.
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1 standard white cake mix
3 cups Cream Cheese Icing
1 cup (6 ounces) white chocolate morsels
2 blue, pink, or black jelly beans or Junior Mints
1 mini marshmallow
1 large marshmallow
Red or black licorice strings, cut into six 4-inch lengths
Cornstarch for rolling
5 ounces ready-to-use rolled fondant (for the ears)
Pesticide-free fresh or sugared flowers (optional)
2 sheets tissue paper
Make the cake batter and divide among one 9-inch round cake pan and two 6-inch round cake pans. Bake as directed and let cool completely on a wire rack.
Using a long, serrated knife, cut the 9-inch cake round in half to form 2 half-moons. Spread the top of 1 half-moon with about 1/3 cup icing and sandwich the halves together. Place on a 12-inch round or oval platter, cut side down. This will be the bunny's body. Using a small offset spatula, frost the body with a very thin coat of icing to seal the cake.
For the bunny haunches, cut one of the 6-inch cake rounds in half to form 2 half-moons. Stand 1 half-moon on its cut side so the rounded side is on top. Cut a small V-shaped notch from the far right of the rounded cake top to create a rabbit haunch. Repeat with the second half of the cake. Attach one haunch to either side of the bunny cake body with a little frosting, and give each haunch a thin coat of icing to seal the cake.
Using a 4-inch round biscuit cutter, cut out a round from the remaining 6-inch cake layer. (Or create a cardboard template and carefully cut from the cake with a serrated knife.) This will be the bunny head. From the remaining cake, cut out a 2-inch round for the tail. (If it isn't perfectly round, don't worry; it will be covered with frosting.)
On the bunny body, slice a narrow sliver of cake 2 inches from the center of the rounded top, going toward the bottom of the cake, to form a ledge for the bunny head. Spread the 4-inch cake round with a thin coating of icing and place in this ledge. Give the 2-inch tail a thin coating and press onto the back of the body, resting it on the plate. Frost the entire cake with a thicker coating of icing, covering completely, but allowing the indentations of the bunny's form to remain distinct.
Place the white chocolate morsels in a heatproof bowl placed over barely simmering water or in a microwave-safe bowl. Heat or microwave until smooth, stirring as needed. Pour the chocolate out onto the back of a large aluminum baking sheet or onto the inside bottom of a rimless baking sheet. Using a long (12-inch) offset, or icing spatula, spread the chocolate evenly about 1/16 inch thick. Let firm up, but not become completely hard, about 5 minutes. Place the baking sheet on a countertop and brace it against your body. Hold the blade of an 8-inch long metal icing spatula in both hands and scrape the chocolate off the pan, toward you, in large curls. As the white chocolate continues to harden, the curls will break and become large shards. This is fine, as the white chocolate fur looks great when it contains different sizes of curls and shards. Your cake will resemble a fluffy angora bunny.
Press white chocolate curls and shards all over the bunny's face, body, and tail to form the fur.
Press the 2 jelly beans or Junior Mints into the face for the eyes. Use a mini marshmallow for the nose. Cut 1 large marshmallow in half and press the cut sides into the frosting right under the nose to form cheeks. Pierce each marshmallow cheek with three 4-inch licorice lengths to form the whiskers (if necessary, pierce holes in the marshmallow cheeks to ease the way for the whiskers).
To make the bunny ears, dust a work surface and rolling pin with cornstarch. Knead the fondant until smooth and pliable, and roll out into a 10-inch round. Cut out a cardboard template of a 6-to 7-inch bunny ear, with a nice pointed tip and squared-off bottom. Or be daring and cut the ear free-hand. Using a sharp paring knife or pizza wheel, cut the ear out of the fondant. Lay the first fondant ear over the remaining rolled-out fondant, trace a second ear, and cut it out. Discard any remaining fondant. Carefully pinch the squared-off end of an ear together and position the ear—pinched corners face down—on the head to resemble a lop-eared rabbit. I find it is best to pierce a small indentation near the center of the top of the bunny's head to position the ear. Attach the second ear, leaving a 1/4-inch space between them. Pinching the ends of the ears gives them a little height and helps them better resemble the real thing. If using, place 1 or 2 fresh or sugared flowers in the space between the ears for balance and decoration. To prevent the ears from drying flat, and to give them a little expression, crumple tissue paper into a ball and position it between the drooping ear and the side of the cake. Allow to dry completely before removing the tissue.
If using, surround the base of the bunny cake with fresh or sugared flowers to give the illusion that the bunny is sitting in a flower bed.
To make the icing, in a bowl beat together the butter and cream cheese with an electric mixer set at medium speed until light and fluffy. Beat in the orange zest and vanilla. Beat in the confectioners' sugar, 1 cup at a time. Continue beating until light and creamy. You should have three cups.
Recipes and Crafts for the Whole Family
A Holiday Celebrations Book
By Jill O'Connor
Chronicle Books, March 2000
96 pages with color photographs throughout
Recipe reprinted by permission.
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Modified March 2007
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