Blog Archive - September 15, 2011

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September 15, 2011 - Moorish Idol Fish Cake
Click here for short instructions

The Moorish Idol is a stunning and famous fish. It's sharp black and white colors add to its beauty. I set forth to attempt to replicate this boldness in my cake. Rather than dealing with how to create a strong black icing, I decided to use this opportunity to incorporate as many Oreo's (and chocolate) as I could into the cake. So the cake is a black and white cake full of cookie chunks. The icing is a white chocolate ganache, and the cake is topped with a nice thick layer of crushed cookies. Beautiful and delicious:

Moorish Idol Fish Cake

To make this cake, you'll need a Cake-Shaping Strip (look here about how to make one), heavy-duty aluminum foil, a sheet pan, prepared cake batter (see the Black and White Cookie-Chunk Cake Batter recipe below or use about 2 boxes of cake mix), icing (about 2 18-oz. containers of white icing and, optionally, the White-Chocolate Cream-Cheese Ganache from the recipe below), 2 (16-oz.) packages of chocolate sandwich cookies, and yellow food dye.

First, make a Cake-Shaping Strip as described here using nine sushi-mat segments. Line a sheet pan with 1-2 sheets of aluminum foil (depending on your cake's width), and shape the strip into a shape of a Moorish Idol. Make sure to exaggerate any spatial features, as they'll seem smaller after you unwrap and ice the cake.

Wrap the bottom foil sheet around the strip, tearing it where needed to wrap it. Push small balls of foil along the bottom outer perimeter wherever you think that the batter might leak due (e.g., where you tore the foil).

Moorish Idol Fish Cake

Now prepare your cake batter. You can make the batter using about two boxes of cake mix or you can use this recipe:

Black-and-White Cookie-Chunk Cake Batter
1 box of chocolate cake mix, prepared as directed
1 box of white cake mix, prepared as directed
1 (18-oz.) package of chocolate sandwich cookies
1/2 cup oil, divided

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a pan with cooking spray.

2. Stir in 1/4 cup oil into each of the prepared cake batters.

3. Cut each of the cookies into quarters.

4. Stir half of the quartered cookies into the chocolate cake batter. Stir the other half into the white cake batter.

5. Pour the chocolate batter into the prepared pan. Pour the white batter over the chocolate layer. Dip a spoon into the cake batter. Pull the spoon up, such that some chocolate batter is swirled upwards into the white batter. Repeat.

6. Bake for about 40 minutes or until done.


This is what my cake batter looked like:

Moorish Idol Fish Cake

This is what it looked like when I added the cake batter layers to the pan:

Moorish Idol Fish Cake

And this was after the swirling:

Moorish Idol Fish Cake

Let the cake cool. Then carefully separate the strip from the cake. Beautiful swirls. By coincidence, it even looks like he has an eye.

Moorish Idol Fish Cake

Now it's time for the fun part. Decorating. I first applied a medium-thick layer of white frosting and let that dry. Meanwhile, use a process to finely crush your other bag of chocolate sandwich cookies. (Somehow I find cookie crumbs to be even more delicious than the cookies.) Also, make a white chocolate ganache BUT MAKE SURE: to reserve ONE white chocolate chip:

White-Chocolate Cream-Cheese Ganache
1 cup milk
2 (11.5 ounce) bags of white chocolate chips (use white chocolate, not vanilla) - minus one chocolate chip
1/4 cup shortening
8 ounces cream cheese (low fat is okay), completely softened

1. Pour the milk into a large microwave safe bowl. Microwave until it just begins to boil.

2. Stir the chocolate chips and shortening into the milk. Microwave for 30 seconds. Stir. Repeat until the chocolate chips are completely melted.

3. Stir in the cream cheese.

4. Refrigerate until the ganache is of your desired consistency.


Now that the crumb coat is dry, spread your lovely ganache over the fish cake. Drop a few drops of yellow food dye directly onto the cake along the body-tail intersection. Use a knife or icing spatula to spread the icing around this area to make the yellow portion of the cake. Drop a single drop of food dye near the fish's nose and spread the dye to make the yellow section shown below.

Now carefully pour your cookie crumbs to make the the black stripes. If you're too nervous about using the crumbs, you can add just a little (and I mean a very little) bit of water to the crumbs. This will make them a little more controllable about where they land.

Pipe on some extra white frosting to make the lines. And for the eye, place the reserved white chocolate chip upside down. Then combine some of your extra cookie crumbs with a very very little bit of water, and press a small amount of the crumbs together onto the chocolate chip to form the eye's center. Here's the top-down view:

Moorish Idol Fish Cake

And from the side:

Moorish Idol Fish Cake

And on our plates paired with some black and white (cookies and cream) ice cream:

Moorish Idol Fish Cake

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