Giant Samoa Girl Scout Cookie Birthday Cake

It’s that time of year again… my guy’s birthday! We sort of alternate between “boring” normal birthday cakes, and creative/challenging cakes. This year entailed the latter.

Choosing the cake was up to me this year – sometimes that’s dangerous, because I’ll always pick something I’ve never made before, and it usually requires literally hours’ worth of preparation. No matter, I’m always up for it! We’ve been on a Girl Scout Cookie kick this year (Samoas and Thin Mints, of COURSE) and I was inspired by this blog post about making a giant Samoa cake. She had a great idea, but I wanted to make some variations on her idea to include more “cookie” elements, and of course frosting.

The end result was this:

The bottom layer consists of shortbread cookie, topped with dark chocolate ganache and salted caramel sauce. Above that is vanilla/white cake, covered in caramel frosting, and coated with toasted coconut flakes, drizzled with melted dark chocolate. To say it was delicious would be an understatement!

I used a variety of recipes here – some online, some from actual cookbooks..yes, people still use those! I’ll do my best to include any actual recipe I used for this, but for some of the steps I just eyeballed it with no recipe or real measuring. (Sorry!) Here’s the step-by-step process I used to assemble, followed by some recipes:

Giant Girl Scout Cookie Cake

*Notes: I made this a two-day process since I had class on his actual birthday, and would need more time to finish the cake. The first day I made the shortbread crust, made the salted caramel sauce, and toasted the coconut. The second day I baked the cake, made the ganache, made the frosting, and assembled it all together. This seemed to work out fine, and you could do them all in one day, but you would need to leave adequate time for cooling each part (caramel especially) which can take some waiting time. I’m posting the photos in the order I prepared everything and assembled the cake.

I started by making a half batch of a shortbread recipe (from The Good Housekeeping Illustrated Cookbook.) Knowing ahead of time that I wanted to have a hole in the center of my cake, I used a large round cookie cutter as a place-holder, and smoothed down the cookie batter around the cutter. I removed the cutter before baking, of course, since it's plastic.

 

You can see the "hole" here where I removed the cookie cutter. I used a tart pan for this, to make removal of the shortbread easier.. the tart pan also happened to be the same width as my bundt pan for the cake! This is the shortbread pre-baked.

 

While the shortbread was baking, I made the salted caramel sauce. (The recipe was for regular caramel sauce, but I added sea salt and homemade vanilla extract!) This needs to cool for at least a few hours -plan ahead!

 

Here's the flaked coconut I bought for the topping - it's HUGE! Doesn't it look delicious? I bought raw unsweetened coconut from the bulk bin at my favorite grocery store (Berkeley Bowl!) I think this was a good idea to use (if you can find it) versus the shredded kind, because it looks more to-scale with the "giant" theme of the cake. Giant cookie, giant flakes of coconut!

 

I placed the coconut on a sheet of parchment and baked it in the oven for the last 10 minutes left of the shortbread's baking time. (350-degrees F.) If you're using sweetened coconut, check on it frequently as it will brown faster because of the sugar content.

 

Toasted coconut, removed from the oven. Yum!

 

Here's the shortbread fresh out of the oven! I suppose you could use a sugar cookie for this as well, if you preferred.

 

After the shortbread and caramel had cooled, I made a small amount of ganache. I simmered some heavy cream (about 1/4 cup) over a double boiler, and stirred in about 1/3 Cup Ghirardelli 60% Cocoa chips into the cream until they had melted, stirring until smooth. I spread a layer of ganache over the cookie, then drizzled some of the caramel sauce on top of that. You know, for good measure. :)

 

Next I baked the cake! I used a small batch recipe for vanilla/white cake and baked it in a silicone bundt pan. (About halfway full.) Well, supposedly you don't need butter or non-stick spray on silicone bakeware, but I beg to differ. It definitely stuck to the pan! Not to worry, the cake would be covered in frosting and coconut, so I really didn't care much about the appearance.

 

There were a LOT of crumbs in the process of removing the cake from the pan! Tasty crumbs.. :)

 

Once the cake was cool, I made the frosting. Okay, I didn't measure here. I tossed in one stick of softened butter (1/2 cup) and beat it with a whisk attachment until fluffy. Then I poured in some caramel.. probably about 3/4 cup, and blended them together. Then I added confectioner's sugar until it reached the consistency I wanted. I think it was somewhere around 2 cups, but add however much you like depending on how thick or thin you want the frosting to be. I also didn't want to lose too much of the caramel flavor by adding too much sugar, so I didn't go beyond 2 1/2 cups.

 

Mixing the caramel and the butter.. yummy. I would eat this as-is!

 

Checking frosting consistency.. this looked about right to me. Not too sugary or stiff.. good consistency for sticking coconut to it!

 

Yep.. another frosting shot.. can't resist!

 

Okay, time for assembly.. I used a GIANT spatula to lift the cake and place it on top of the cookie section. Did I mention how absolutely perfect the cake and cookie fit together?! I guess it pays to have a lot of bakeware!

 

.. checking the alignment of the hole. Yep, it matches up. :)

 

Frosting time! I coated the whole cake in caramel frosting, and then drizzled some extra caramel on top.. just because I can.

 

Okay, this part is messy. Just embrace it! I literally took handfuls of toasted coconut and pressed them against the cake, gently patting down to help them stick to the frosting. Don't be shy.. make sure you cover all edges inside and out!

 

Last step.. melted chocolate, drizzled across the top. (I used the 60% Cocoa Ghirardelli Chocolate Chips for this, too. They're my favorite, and they melt beautifully!)

 

The completed cake! I used TWO giant spatulas (one in each hand!) to move the cake off of the waxed paper and onto the cake plate. Thankfully this was made somewhat easier because of the cookie crust bottom, but I still wanted to be careful so that the crust wouldn't crack. Ta-da! I placed the whole cake in the refrigerator to help it set up properly, since it was a bit warm in here. Probably a good idea to do if you also have a slightly warm kitchen.

 

Here’s the recipes I used:

 

Shortbread

from Good Housekeeping Illustrated Cookbook 1980 ed.

Minutes to Cook: 35

Number of Servings: 18

 

Ingredients

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup butter, softened

1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon double-acting baking powder

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons sugar

 

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

– in large bowl beat 1st 6 ingredients until well mixed, occasionally scraping the bowl

– pat down into 9 in round cake pan and with fork, prick well

– with spoon, sprinkle sugar over dough

Bake 30-35 minutes

– cut into wedges while warm, cool on wire rack, separate cookies

Serving Size: 18

 

***I used HALF of the shortbread recipe, since I just wanted a crust. I did not sprinkle with sugar, and I did not cut it into wedges.***

Caramel Sauce

Bon Appétit | April 2006

Mary Cech

Yield: Makes about 1 1/3 cupsIngredients

3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup light corn syrup
3/4 cup whipping cream

Preparation

Combine sugar, 1/2 cup water, and corn syrup in heavy medium saucepan. Stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat and boil without stirring until mixture turns a deep amber color, occasionally brushing down sides of pan with wet pastry brush and swirling pan, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Carefully add cream (you may want to stand back — mixture will bubble vigorously). Stir sauce over low heat until any caramel bits dissolve and sauce is smooth. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Rewarm over medium-low heat just until pourable, then let caramel sauce cool to room temperature.)

***After adding the cream and mixing the sauce, I removed it from the heat and stirred in about 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract and a dash of sea salt.***

—-

Toasted Coconut:

No recipe, but I wanted to mention I used unsweetened coconut, spread out on parchment over a cookie sheet.. baked it for about 10 mins at 350-F. Carefully watch and/or use less toasting time if you’re using sweetened coconut, as it burns faster than unsweetened.

—-

Dark Chocolate Ganache:

No recipe for this either, but I heated 1/4 Cup heavy cream over a double boiler, removed it from the heat and then stirred in about 1/3 Cup chocolate chips (Ghirardelli 60% cocoa) until they were melted and the mixture was smooth.

—-

Vanilla Cake:

Simple White Cake

by: SCOTTOSMAN (Allrecipes.com)

Prep Time:
20 Min

Cook Time:
30 Min

Ready In:
50 Min

Servings

Original Recipe Yield 12 cupcakes or 1- 9×9 inch pan

Ingredients

  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 cup milk

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour a 9×9 inch pan or line a muffin pan with paper liners.
  2. In a medium bowl, cream together the sugar and butter. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then stir in the vanilla. Combine flour and baking powder, add to the creamed mixture and mix well. Finally stir in the milk until batter is smooth. Pour or spoon batter into the prepared pan.
  3. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes in the preheated oven. For cupcakes, bake 20 to 25 minutes. Cake is done when it springs back to the touch.

—-

Salted Caramel Frosting:

No real recipe for this either.. I softened 1 stick (1/2 Cup) unsalted butter, then beat it with the whisk attachment on my mixture until fluffy. Next I mixed in about 3/4 Cup of the salted caramel sauce until smooth. Then I gradually beat in confectioner’s sugar until the desired consistency. (About 2 1/2-cups. You may want more if you like a thicker frosting. I didn’t want the caramel taste overpowered by the sugar, so I kept it on the “less sugar” side.)

—-

And there you have it! The end result was a delicious combo of cookie and cake. I wouldn’t change a single thing! This is definitely not a healthy cake , and is best intended for special occasions.. like birthdays. :)

DIY Easter Chick Necklace

Victoria Camp Designs - Easter Chick Tutorial

Now that Valentine’s Day is over, Easter inspiration will be popping up everywhere you look. I’ve decided to join in on the fun and offer a DIY tutorial on how to make your very own Easter chick necklace! The original little marshmallow treat these are inspired by are quite popular here in the United States – typically most people either love them or hate them. If you’re in the “love” group, you’re sure to enjoy the following tutorial! These instructions are for a necklace, but you can create the chick for any use (bracelet, earrings, or just to put on your desk!)

DIY Easter Chick Tutorial

Materials needed:

– Yellow Polymer Clay

-Brown Polymer Clay

– Flat end head pin

– Finished necklace chain

– Pliers (round nose and flat nose recommended)

– Waxed paper (for keeping your work surface clean)

– Aluminum foil (for baking the clay in the oven)

Victoria Camp Designs

Step 1: Gather your materials (listed above.) As you can see, I like the Sculpey brand clay. I think it’s softer to work with than some of the other brands, but any brand of polymer clay will work!

Victoria Camp Designs

Step 2: Break off a small piece of yellow polymer clay, and begin to knead and soften the clay. This is called “conditioning” the clay.

Victoria Camp Designs

Step 3: Once the clay has been conditioned, roll it into a ball.

Victoria Camp Designs

Step 4: Hold the clay in one hand, and use your other hand to gently make an “edge” around the entire perimeter of the bottom of the ball.

Victoria Camp Designs

Step 5: You can see the “edge” along the bottom of the ball here. Make the edge a little longer on one end of the ball. This will be the “tail” of the chick.

Victoria Camp Designs

Step 6: Working on the longer end of the edge, pinch the clay together to form a soft point. (The “tail”.)

Victoria Camp Designs

Step 7: Working towards the tail end, gently pinch the clay upward from the round dome/top section (this will be the head.)

Victoria Camp Designs

Step 8: Working with the head area you just formed, gently pinch the tip of it and fold it towards the front of the chick (to form the beak.)

Victoria Camp Designs

Step 9: Keep pinching the “beak” section until it has formed a small point. You can then gently push the beak downward a little bit, if you so desire.

Victoria Camp Designs

Step 10: Now it’s time for the eyeballs! Using a pin (or the pointed end of the headpin) press a small dot onto each side of the head where you’ll be placing the eyes.

Victoria Camp Designs

Step 11: Using a VERY small piece of brown clay (smaller than you think you’ll need! Smaller than showing here!) make a teeny tiny round dot of clay for each eyeball.

Victoria Camp Designs

Step 12: This is where the eyeball placement comes in handy. Gently press the tiny piece of brown clay eyeball into each side of the head. You can use your fingers, or the tip of the headpin to put the clay in place. Gently press down on the clay with your finger to set it in place and flatten it slightly.

Victoria Camp Designs

Close-up of the completed chick (with eyes!)

Victoria Camp Designs

Step 13: Starting from the underside of the chick, gently push the headpin through the clay, making sure the flat part is on the bottom. I like to angle the pin so it exits out behind the chick’s head, although you can certainly angle it any way you choose.

Victoria Camp Designs

Step 14: Bake the clay in your oven according to package instructions. (Mine went in for 15 minutes at 275F. Your temp/times will vary based on the brand of clay and size of your chick.)

Victoria Camp Designs

Step 15: Once the clay has baked and cooled, you’ll want to form a wire wrapped loop with the end of the head pin. Here’s an easy tutorial from Artbeads if you aren’t sure how to do that part already: http://www.artbeads.com/howtomawrlo.html

Victoria Camp Designs

Step 16: Attach the chick onto your necklace chain/ribbon/etc. (I had pre-made my chain already. You can make your own chain, or buy a pre-made chain. You could also slip the charm onto a ribbon.)

Victoria Camp Designs

Ta-da! Here’s the finished necklace!

Victoria Camp Designs

You can make these in any color of clay you choose, and for any type of jewelry. This photo is an example of various colors I had made for earrings.

Hope you enjoyed the tutorial! I’ve been working with polymer clay for over 15 years. It’s really very fun, and those with any level of skill can create something! You can browse some of my other clay creations in my Etsy shop, Victoria Camp Designs.