M&Ms saved the day for me this week and made me a superhero in my grandkids’ eyes! We are an Avengers loving family from the youngest grandchild to super-hero-loving Grandpa and everybody in between! When one of Marvel’s new Avengers movies hits the big screen, my older kids (ages 18-30), and my husband, are usually standing in the line for the midnight release showing. That’s in a town of only 6,000, with one theater and a line that goes out the door and down the block. When one of the movies hits Blu-Ray, you can be sure it will be immediately added to our family movie night collection. Captain America: The Winter Soldier was no exception! The great news is I knew about a fabulous deal, because I happened to have the good fortune to be selected to be part of #CollectiveBias’s new campaign, #HeroesEatM&Ms. The even better news? You don’t have to write a blog to SAVE $5 on this movie, just like I did. Visit Walmart’s Heroes Eat M&Ms Social Hub, take a quiz, enter to win a $100 Walmart Gift Card and print out that $5 coupon!
I was hoping to decorate a cake, to serve for the DVD release of Captain America:The Winter Soldier. That it would be our family’s favorite chocolate cake was a given, but as the day wore on, I knew I was never going to have the time I needed to mix up several colors of buttercream and free-hand decorate my cake, as planned. That’s how M&Ms saved my day and let me be the “hero” in my grandkids’ eyes. I recreated Captain America’s shield on top of a Chocolate Layer Cake with Cream Cheese Icing, using nothing but M&Ms and saving myself lots of time. You should have seen the kids when they got their eyes on that cake. Thanks M&Ms for keeping Grandma’s super-hero badge untarnished!
Here’s how you can easily recreate the same cake for your own family. Get out your cape! It’s time to be the hero in your kitchen, with M&Ms as your secret weapon! I’ll give you the cake recipe, first, then show you a quick tutorial for assembling the decorated cake.
- 1 cup butter, softened
- 2 cups sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup milk
- 2½ cups unbleached all purpose flour
- 1 cup cocoa
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup boiling water
- With your stand mixer, (or by hand), cream the softened butter and sugar.
- Beat in the eggs.
- Add the milk and mix well. (At this point your batter will look almost curdled as the tiny buttery, sugar bits seem to separate from the milk. You haven't done anything wrong. Beat it hard for about 60 seconds. That's all it takes and that curdled appearance will turn to creamy smooth, in just a couple minutes, when you add the dry ingredients. I promise.)
- Add the dry ingredients and stir to thoroughly combine. The batter will be very thick and creamy. (It's going to be hard not to eat this with a spoon, right there, out of the mixing bowl, but resist and finish the recipe. You won't regret it.)
- Mix in the boiling water and keep stirring until the batter has an even consistency.
- Stir in the vanilla.
- I made my cake in two 8" round pans to mimic the shape of a shield. You could just as easily bake it an a 9X13 pan and just decorate a round shield on the top. (I think the thick cake baked in a 9x13 is much moister and delicious than separate layers, anyway.)
- If you use round pans, to make a layer cake, be sure you grease and then flour each pan, so the cakes will be able to be removed, easily. For a 9x13, that you will leave in the pan, greasing is sufficient.
- Pour cake batter into prepared cake pan(s) and bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes for the 9x13 or 30-40 minutes for the round layers. (Ovens vary, so check them at the earliest point, first.) The toothpick test will not work for testing doneness on this cake. Center will be set, but soft, and the edges of the cake will be pulling away from the pan, when it is done.
- Remove from oven and cool in pan, on a cooling rack. If you are making layers, remove the layers from the pan once the layers are cool to the touch. Center will sink slightly, sometimes as it cools. This is normal, since the cake is so moist and fudgy.
- Frost with your favorite icing when cake has completely cooled.
- This delicious cake is best served ice cold from the fridge. It is moist, dense and delicious!
To decorate the cake, as I have, you will need: 3 cans of cream cheese frosting, 1 bag of White Chocolate Candy Corn M&Ms and 3 bags (12.6 oz) of Plain M&Ms. That seems like a LOT of M&Ms, I know, and you WILL have leftovers, but in order to have enough red ones, you need three bags. Trust me on this one. 🙂
I love decorating cakes and one of the tools that makes it easier for me is this marble lazy-Susan that I bought, used, at a thrift store. I don’t own fancy cake plates, so I usually place the first round on a large dinner plate or a platter, which I sit on that lazy Susan. I can easily turn and spin the cake to make it easy to reach the spot where I’m working, without smudging places where I’ve already decorated. Cake decorating tools don’t have to be expensive, or even brand new, to make your job so much easier.
Start by carefully removing your cooled rounds from the pans. When I make this cake for every day dessert, I typically will use fudge frosting, but for this cake, I felt like the colorful shield would stand out better on white. I opted for a canned Cream Cheese frosting and used 2½ cans, to complete the cake.
The first cooled layer goes on a cake plate and gets a thick layer of frosting on the top.
Now stack the second layer on top of the frosted bottom layer.
I frost the sides of my layer cakes, next. I like to be sure I have an even thickness of frosting all the way around.
Then I frost the top, smoothing edges and blending with the sides, as much as is necessary. The top is going to be covered in M&Ms, so perfection is not the goal with this icing job.
Once the cake is frosted, you can begin the M&M decorations. I tried beginning with the star, but it was too difficult to keep things perfectly round and balanced, so I pulled everything back off and started, again. The secret is to start with the outside ring and move toward the center.
Use red M& Ms to create two rows around the outside edge of your round cake. Lay the M&Ms flat.
For the white ring, use the white chocolate M&Ms. These are larger. Do one complete ring with them laying flat. The next ring is putting them in more on edge and then tipping them back toward the last row, so they overlap the first white ring.
For the second red ring, use red M&Ms, standing on edge.
Once the second red ring is complete, it will be easier to build your star in the center and then fill in around it with blue M&Ms.
To make the star, I placed a white chocolate M&M flat in the center and then used 5 more, standing on edge, to create the points of the star.
Once the star was in place, I stood blue M&Ms on edge to fill the gaps between the star and the second red ring.
That’s it! Super simple. You can totally make this fun and easy cake. Go on! Be somebody’s hero!
Have M&Ms ever saved your day? Made quick work of a decorating project? What’s your favorite M&M creation ever? Leave a comment and share your great ideas!
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