Turkey-Shaped Cake

Cake-Shaping Strip (from 6 sushi-mat segments)
Heavy-duty aluminum foil
Wax paper
Sheet pan
Prepared cake batter (about 1 box of cake mix)
1 (16-oz.) container of store-bought white frosting
1 (16-oz.) container of store-bought chocolate frosting
1 tablespoon creamy peanut butter
1 tube red frosting
8 pretzel sticks
2 (12-oz) packages of semi-sweet chocolate chips
Orange food dye

1. Line a sheet pan with two sheets of aluminum foil. Shape the Cake-Shaping Strip into a shape of a turkey (without yet worrying about his legs or tail feathers). Exaggerate the spatial features, as they'll seem smaller after you unwrap and frost the cake. Wrap the bottom foil layers around the strip. Cut the foil or add extra bottom foil strips as needed to wrap around the strip. Press small balls of loosely packed foil into outer corners or edges if you think that the foil didn't wrap around the portion well enough to prevent cake-batter leakage.

2. Prepare your cake batter. Spray the strip and foil with cooking spray. Pour the cake batter into the prepared "pan" and bake until done. Let the cake cool.

3. Cut away any cake batter that leaked through the strip. Carefully remove the Cake-Shaping Strip. Insert the flat edge of a table knife between the strip and the cake if this helps.

4. Frost the head of the turkey with white frosting, the beak with orange-dyed white frosting, and the neck with red frosting. Frost the turkey's body with chocolate frosting. Place the flat end of a knife onto a surface of the chocolate frosting and pull up. Repeat this over the chocolate frosting surface, to give it a feathery look.

5. Prepare a piping bag with a basket-weaving tip, and fill the bag with the rest of the chocolate frosting. Pipe on two chocolate feathers, as shown below.

6. Place the remaining white frosting and/or white frosting mixed with the peanut butter (to make a lighter brown color) into other piping bags with normal tips. Add feather decorations.

7. Place one large piece of wax paper (about 13x17 inches) on a cookie sheet or tray. Place a smaller sheet (about 4x8 inches) on a plate or smaller tray. Place the chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave in 30-second intervals (stirring in between) until the chips are melted.

8. Cut four of the pretzel sticks in half (making them shorter). Dip all of the pretzel sticks (the full and half sticks) into the melted chocolate. Place them on the small sheet of wax paper. Spread the remaining chocolate out onto the large sheet of wax paper (forming a layer about 1/2-1 centimeter thick). Place the pretzel sticks and chocolate layer in the refrigerator.

9. Once the chocolate layer has hardened, cut about 12 tail feathers from the chocolate layer. (Re-refrigerate the chocolate during this process if necessary.) Freeze the feathers. You'll have some extras just in case.

10. Re-melt a little of the extra chocolate from the chocolate layer. Join three tail feathers together using the melted chocolate. Also, use the chocolate to join a large pretzel stick with three small ones to form a leg. (Do this twice - once for each leg. You should have a couple extra pretzel sticks just in case.) Place the turkey legs and joined feathers back on wax paper and back in the freezer.

11. Cut slits in the back of the turkey cake, and stick some feathers towards the back. Be careful not to cut the slits too deep or too close together, as the cake will cut apart. Gently but firmly press the joined tail feathers into the back of the cake. The frosting should help the feathers stick to the cake. Use extra frosting and/or melted chocolate to help with the attachment if necessary. Decorate the tail feathers with the white and/or peanut butter frosting in the piping bags.

12. Stick the turkey legs into the base of the cake.

13. Make the turkey's eye using a small chocolate chunk or chocolate frosting.

Turkey Thanksgiving Cake

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