Each year I participate in a fundraiser called The Mini Show, benefitting the Zootown Arts Community Center (ZACC). It's a great organization, developing community through arts programming for all in Missoula.
Artists donate their works to be auctioned off, and chefs donate mini desserts, also to be auctioned off after dinner. People dress up on the theme, it's a lively crowd and a super fun event. Last year I made mini caramel corn boxes that ended up selling for $1,500! You can read about that HERE.
This year's theme was "Make It Pop" encompassing all things pop art and pop culture. I decided my contribution to the dessert auction would be a Rubik's Cube Cake -- homage to the iconic puzzle loved around the world. The guidelines were to actually create 2 sets of mini desserts for the auction, so I made 2 Rubik's Cube cakes in the end.
Rather than one whole cake with a grid decoration, I opted for many individual mini cakes that would form the cube as a collection. And I wanted a stand that would actually rotate. This led me to the new Missoula Public Library and their Makerspace, where Taylor helped me render and 3D-print the stand that would fit the bill.
Once that was in place I started in on the cake forms.
In order to get clean lines I needed to coat the molds in a very thin layer of chocolate. Too thick and you wouldn't be able to get your fork through it. Too thin and it would crack and fall apart.
This was an early test: too thick!
After many failed attempts I finally dialed this in and started on the actual cakes and fillings.
I opted for 3 flavors: Strawberry Balsamic, Chocolate Passion Fruit and Pistachio Cream. Each 2" cube would be a fully realized entremet -- a French style cake that often contains multiple components: cake, ganache/jam/fruit, mousse, something crunchy. And each of the 25 mini cakes would be individually coated in a colorful mirror glaze to evoke the Rubik's Cube.
The bottom had to be chocolate-sealed so the guests could actually get the cakes off the stand without sticking. I also had to tighten up the cylinders of the stand so each tier wouldn't spin wildly, throwing the cakes off into people's laps.
Firming up the cakes before glazing. The chocolate exterior is now thin enough to see through.
And transporting the cake meant finding and shaping the right box that would protect it, since it wouldn't fit into a regular cake box.
After many tests and many failures, here are the final results:
It sold for $650, all benefitting the ZACC. I was very happy with how it all turned out, and humbled by the amount of work needed to pull it off.
The process of creating an edible puzzle was an absolute puzzle unto itself, but what I learned along the way was invaluable. And it's good to stretch into new, often uncomfortable places in your craft. That's how we get better, right?
Looking forward to next year's challenge!
To order a cake for your event, gathering or office party, click HERE.