My friend Jamie loves soccer – I mean, really loves soccer – so there was hardly any other choice for his birthday a few weeks ago than a 3-D soccer cake.
It ended up as an ice-cream-filled chocolate cake with two kind of icing, and since that’s a little much even for me, I had some MUCH-appreciated help on this one from Jamie’s girlfriend Julia. This was really more about the idea than the recipe, so we went with some tried and true favorites:
First, I baked Martha’s Ultimate Chocolate Cake, only instead of using a normal old traditional cake pan I made it in a 5.5qt stainless steel bowl. And I baked it… well, for awhile. One hour and forty-five minutes awhile. Seriously, just leave it in there and just keep checking it. It’s going to take forever.
Once it’s done, you need to cool it down. Having taken nearly two hours to bake, it’s gonna take a long time to cool. I stuck it in the freezer; it didn’t actually help that much. But, in my case, Julia was over so we used this time to make some tasty cream cheese frosting. If you need a refresher on that, it’s pretty much the easiest thing ever: beat together a package of cream cheese and a stick of unsalted butter until fluffy, then add powdered sugar to taste.
Also, soccer balls are black and white by nature, so we needed to make some black frosting. Since Jamie’s favorite flavor of ice cream is mint chocolate chip, we made mint chocolate frosting and colored it black, but any dark-colored frosting would work. Definitely start with something already dark, though; we used an entire little pot of black Wilton’s dye and it still looked a little grey, so I can’t imagine the food coloring you would need to turn white icing really black. Ugh. I unabashedly stole borrowed the frosting recipe from this Southern Living Mint Chocolate Frosting recipe, except I used a lot more of the mint-chocolate morsels and I certainly did not use a microwave instead of a double-boiler, thank you very much.
Now: the fun part. Once you have two kinds of yummy frosting made, you need to hollow out the inside of your cake-bowl. Turn the cake upside down, so that the flat part is on the bottom, and use a sharp bread knife to hollow out the center. Save the bits you are taking out, becuase you will need them to make a cake cap on top of the ice cream. Once you have it hollowed out – to your taste of course, maybe you want a thick layer of cake, maybe you only want a little – fill the inside with ice cream. We took the easy route here and bought mint chocolate chip ice cream… if you have an ice cream maker and you want to add another hour of cooking onto your day, then go for it! (Homemade ice cream is inevitably better, but honestly – we filled a cake with it and then covered it with two kinds of frosting. You couldn’t really tell.)
Once your cake is filled with ice cream, use the cake bits you hollowed out (and plenty of your imagination) to fashion a top to it that makes it round enough to pass for a ball. Slather it in cream cheese icing, all over, and stick it in the freezer for ten minutes or so to firm up before you continue to decorate. Once it’s nice and solid, put your black icing into a piping bag and draw the pentagons. If you are really artistic and smart you might be able to wing this; we had a med student and a graphic design student in the kitchen and we needed to make a mold. We made a little pentagon out of tin-foil, and carved the pentagons into the cream cheese icing, then piped the black icing over and into the shapes. Connect them with thin lines of icing, and you have your soccer ball!
The last finishing touch here was the grass – we just colored some of the cream cheese icing green, and piped it around the base of the cake, then used wooden skewers and a fork to pull it up around the cake so it looked like blades of grass.