I had been wanting to try making swiss meringue buttercream (henceforth referred to as smb) for a couple of years, but I just never got to it. It uses a lot of butter and egg whites and I typically do not have enough on hand for any spur of the moment baking for the smb recipe. And the few cakes I plan ahead for tend to have specific requirements for flavors which rules out the smb. I finally decided to plan for a cake with smb over the weekend, though.
It took two batches. The first batch didn’t turn out. I had used liquid egg whites as the consensus from Google seemed to be that while perhaps not quite as good as fresh eggs they would work fine for making meringue. Maybe it was user error but my meringue never got thick enough – it remained a slightly thickened sticky soupy mess. I tried again using fresh egg whites and that batch was successful! The meringue still did not quite fluff up the way it should have based on the recipe/tutorial I was using but it got far enough along that I was able to add the butter and finish making the icing.
The design for this cake was very simple. It is from My Cake School, and there is a free tutorial on their blog.
I first set aside some of the smb to tint green then used the untinted icing to fill and frost the cake. I placed the mellowcreme candies around the base of the cake then with the green icing I used a #2 tip to pipe vines all around the bottom between the candies. Then I used tip #352 to add leaves to fill in the base. I filled the top of the cake with orange sanding sugar, leaving about half an inch open to pipe a leaf border along the top of the cake. My trick-or-treating ghost was done differently than the tutorial. I have not had luck using rice krispy treats for cake decorating so instead I made a cake pop using the smb and a bit of my cake (I baked a single cupcake along with the cake itself for this purpose). And I prefer modeling chocolate over fondant so that was what I used to cover the cake ball and create my little ghost. I didn’t want to buy icing writers (food color markers) because I don’t have much use for them and you can only buy a whole pack not a single color. So I just used black decorator icing and a #2 tip to pipe the eyes on the ghost/trick-or-treater and for the face on the little treat pail. I secured the bow onto the ghost with a dab of melted white chocolate. I cut a length of a drinking straw (I didn’t measure, just a couple inches) and pushed it down into the center of the cake just till the top was level with the icing, then slipped the lollipop stick the cake pop ghost is on into the straw in the cake. The straw just helps ensure a little more stability to keep her from falling over.
It sounds like a complicated cake but it was really super simple. Mine did not come out perfectly and there are a few things I would tweak if I ever revisit this design but overall I am happy with how it turned out. I think it is a very cute design and it is great for novice decorators to introduce some simple fondant work (or modeling chocolate, if you are like me) and get a little piping practice.