I've been wanting to make this cake for years. Decades if the truth be told. I first saw it many, many years ago in Rose Levy Beranbaum's, The Cake Bible and immediately fell in love. Taking time out to make it was my Christmas gift to myself as well as my husband's office and I'm so happy to have finally given it a go.
It looked daunting, if not impossible all those years ago what with chocolate tempering and the hundreds of petals involved. I've learned a lot since then and my confidence to take on a cake of this caliber has changed. Still, I made it a bit easier by using Candy Melts (no tempering or temper tantrums) along with some other major adjustments. The cake turned out to be a whopping 13 x 10.5 inches without the branch or pine needles so I ended up using a lot more (about 650) than the original amount of petals called for. Even so, they weren't nearly as hard as I'd imagined and putting them on the cake was actually fun! I'd change the angle of the petals near the top next time but was pleased overall with the rest of the project.
The pine needles are made of thinly piped green Candy Melts and the branch is Tootsie Rolls. I'd love to find an easier way to do this part since the thin needles break quite easily but I'd still use them in some fashion since it helps to finish off the cake.
Since the first one worked out so well and was easier than expected, I made a second one as a gift for some friends at at my favorite local kitchen store. I opted to speed things up a bit by using a non edible pine bough garnish clipped from a stem from Crate and Barrel.
Although this cake takes a little time, the method is easy and the WOW factor is soooo worth the extra effort. I even made a third cake on Christmas Eve that we decorated after dinner and served right up. We made a time lapse video to show just how quick and easy it really is once the petals are made. We didn't do quite as neat of a job and didn't use as many petals as my first two cakes since we were going for speed. It was after all time for dessert and the smell of all that chocolate wafting through the warm kitchen was mouthwatering. As you can see, the results were still impressive. You can see the youtube video by clicking on the box below or here: Pinecone Cake Time Lapse. (Choose the HD view for a better picture.)
So how did it taste after all of the effort? A cake that looks good but doesn't meet the taste bud test is a disappointment. Rose would be so disappointed to know that I used a boxed Devils Food cake mix with mini chocolate chips slathered in Smuckers Caramel ice cream syrup and canned frosting (horrors!) for the cake itself. I was concerned that the petals might be hard to bite but they are so thin and made of Candy Melts so they just melt in your mouth. Tasted absolutely fabulous! Sorry Rose.
Hope you take time out to do something fun for yourself this holiday season! Merry Christmas to you and yours!