Ahhhh, Dr. Mario. You know, I never gave these games much thought before I met my husband. Once we began dating, though, I quickly got a crash course in all things related to the games. I think I might be married to the world’s biggest Dr. Mario fan.
He actually uses an image of Dr. Mario as his profile photo on all social media instead of his own face. That’s how much he likes Dr. Mario.
It’s honestly kind of surprising that I never made a Dr. Mario cake for him before now. I’ve given him other Dr. Mario related gifts, but never a cake. A 30th birthday is a big deal, though, so it’s definitely time. Thus, the plan: make a 3D Doctor Mario!
THE CAKE FLAVOR
My husband requested a specific cake flavor this year: my caramel macchiato cake. It consists of yellow cake drenched in a Kahlua soak and layered with homemade caramel sauce and espresso buttercream.
An interesting side note on this cake is that I took the general makeup of it directly from my first job out of culinary school: decorating for Bronwen Weber at Frosted Art Bakery. Her cakes were and are extremely delicious, and her caramel macchiato cake was my favorite. I’m pretty sure I got caught sneaking cake scraps in the walk-in fridge on more than a few occasions. When I eventually left, I tucked the idea away in my head for later use.
My components are all the same: yellow cake, coffee soak, coffee buttercream, caramel. My recipes, however, are all entirely different. First of all: I made it way, way more boozey. Like, help-I-used-up-1/3-of-the-Kahlua-bottle boozey. I also use espresso compound for flavoring instead of coffee, and my caramel sauce is a bit darker. Overall, though, this is very much my interpretation of a Frosted Art cake.
This was also my first attempt at using a new cake support system I purchased. Honestly, I was looking forward to wholeheartedly endorsing it as a good way for home bakers to get introduced to sculpted cake support structures. However… I’m sad to say I didn’t love it.
The general idea is great, and I like the pipes. However, the base wasn’t nearly sturdy enough to support my cake. I can only see this base working for very, very small projects. As great as the pipes are, they’re effectively useless if the base that holds them isn’t solid.
I made things work to a degree by surrounding the base with modeling chocolate on the top AND underneath, so at least it won’t be flying out of the threaded hole… but yeah. Not great. Thankfully I won’t be transporting this cake anywhere.
Once I got the supports set up, it was time to put in the actual cake. I baked a few 6″ layers, a 5″ layer and a 4″ layer. Each one got a little hole punched out of the center for the center rod. Then it was on to fillings: first, a healthy dose of Kahlua syrup. Some caramel comes next, and finally a layer of espresso buttercream. Rinse and repeat!
I popped the whole thing in the fridge while I drew up a template to help me keep track of the proportions. I also made two batches of modeling chocolate in white and dark.
Finally, I began carving. The above carve is the first rough go, mostly there to give me an idea of where everything is going to be. If you’re wondering why the modeling chocolate I reinforced the base with is pink, well… uh, I had some left over. What am I, rich? Waste not, man.
Next up: modeling chocolate details. I chose modeling chocolate for the legs, arms and nose of Mario because it’s sturdy and delicious. Modeling chocolate, when made well, is like some kind of dark chocolate gourmet tootsie roll. It’s good stuff, and it’s easy to sculpt and firms up fast.
I used the chocolate to pad out the facial features a little bit, as well, before returning the whole shebang to the fridge.
That’s actually it for today. My little Doctor needs to chill after a long shift, and tomorrow he’ll get decorated. I’ll see you all tomorrow!