Halloween “Corpse Cake”

With Halloween just around the corner, I wanted to share this fun “recipe” for a creepy cake that will entertain your family or party guests on the 31st.  The word recipe is in quotes because this post is less about recipes and more about a technique that I played with to make this unique confection.  It’s super easy and should be a hit with all lovers of the macabre, especially those with a sense of humor.

The idea is that you’re going to create a cake in the shape of a person; this cake person is going to be decorated in a way that makes it clear that he or she is unwell (for the rest of this post I’m going to use male pronouns because our cake was none other than Ron Swanson from Parks & Rec – more on that later); and when you cut into the cake person, it will result in a deliciously bloody mess.

The first thing you need is a pan that is at least somewhat human shaped.  I used a large, deep gingerbread form that I found at an online bake shop.  Any gingerbread person shape should work, but I’d steer clear of anything too thin as you want enough depth to allow you to pipe in oozy-ness.

Create a nice, big batch of your favorite vegan vanilla cake mix.  I can’t tell you exactly how much to make because it’s going to depend on the form you’re using,  but I’m confident you can play around with it and figure it out.  If you don’t have a favorite cake recipe, do an internet search for either Chef Chloe’s vanilla cupcake recipe (what I used – I had to double or triple it) or the vanilla cupcake recipe from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World.  I’m recommending vanilla both for the taste and because it will show the food coloring well, but you could undoubtedly get away with using other flavors if that’s what your heart desires.

Speaking of food coloring, you’re going to need some excellent food coloring for this cake to work well.  I recommend the Americolor Soft Gel Paste variety.  This line of coloring is vibrant enough to make your baked goods dramatic without having to add so much that you alter the taste.  At this point, have your red food coloring on hand…  divide the cake batter into two separate bowls, and lightly tint one until it’s a pinkish hue and put more into the other bowl so that it’s a more vibrant red.  Carefully pour the contents of both bowls into the mold at the same time (one in each hand), and then swirl it gently together.  It should look something like this:

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Bake until cooked through and slightly golden.  It will look like this:

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Once your corpse has cooled, turn him out onto the platter you’re going to be serving him on.

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Now it’s time for the frosting.  You’re going to need a lot of frosting because you’re going to be doing a lot with said frosting.  I kept running out and having to make additional batches (but again, I can’t tell you how much, exactly, because it will depend on the size of your corpse and how you decide to decorate him).  Make a big bowl of your favorite vegan vanilla buttercream frosting (mine is from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World).  Put a nice, generous helping of the frosting into a separate bowl, put some red food coloring into it and blend.  Use a knife to create some troughs in your person where you want it to be extra oozy and then pipe your red frosting into the troughs.  My piping kind of looked like the logo from the Blair Witch Project,  but that’s okay.

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Now you need to make your special decorating frosting by taking some big dollops of the vanilla buttercream and putting them into separate small bowls and then using food coloring to create your desired effects.  I will warn you that the next sentence is pretty gross:  For our corpse, we went with blood (the red one), puss (the yellow one), and decomposing flesh (the weird purply one).  We also made a small batch of brown frosting to use for head and mustache hair.

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Now that your special frostings are standing by, use your plain vanilla frosting to completely cover your corpse.  (Again, you can use whatever color you like, but we used plain vanilla because it shows the decorating treatments well and because Ron Swanson is a fairly pale fellow.)

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Now it’s time to have a little fun and decorate your corpse.  Who is she or he?  How did this person die?  Our corpse was for Queenie to take to school, so I let her create the back story. We were deep in the midst of binge watching Parks & Rec at the time, and she selected a theme that came up in Season 6, Episode 5, when Ron is creating his hilarious will that leaves all of his worldly possessions to “the man or animal” that killed him.  Ben then quotes Game of Thrones and makes a reference to a boar, and Ron claims that he’d “never lose to a boar.”  We found all of this quite funny, and our corpse is what we imagined Ron would look like if he did, indeed, lose to a boar.   It isn’t pretty, but then death by boar wouldn’t be.

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As you can probably tell from the photo above, the eyes were two inverted chocolate chips (flat side up), which worked nicely.  Here’s a close-up of one of the wounds:

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And another.  We layered the various gross colors together for dramatic effect.

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When Queenie took the corpse cake to school, we had a bit of fun with the packaging, trying to make it look at least a bit like a body bag.

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Now for the disappointing part of this post:  I can’t show you the fabulous oozing effect that happened when Ron was cut open.  I wasn’t able to be there, so I’d asked various people to please take photos.  However, they ended up having too much fun cutting and gasping and eating to remember to do so until it was too late.  But I was told by many eye witnesses that Ron was a glorious, delicious crime scene of fun, and the remnants left on the tray would seem to support that.

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I hope you have tons of fun this Halloween, and if you end up making your own corpse cake, I’d love to see the photos!!

Enjoy!  xo