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Help--Exploding volcano cake !!

For my son's upcoming 6th birthday party, we're thinking of a "fire and ice" or "exploding" theme--TNT graphic on the invites, liquid nitrogen ice cream, replacing parts of standard birthday games with more exciting things (I could use help on that too) and I'd love to surprize him with a volcano cake. Here's my idea so far, and I'd appreciate any help on refining/turning it into reality:

Chocolate cake, in a general cone/mountain shape
We have plastic molds from a kit to make a plaster of paris volcano, but I'd have to figure out a way to prevent them from melting in the oven (an adaptation of lost-wax technique?) Alternately, I could use increasingly small round layers to create a terraced mountain, and perhaps chunk out a few boulders when it's finished.
Besides the appearance of the cake, I should consider how the batter will bake in a cone-shaped volcano mold. Any suggestions?

Red/yellow/orange icing "lava" streaming down the slopes, perhaps green around the base, being covered up by the flow of "lava". There is, of course, an array of colored icing available, but I try to avoid prepackaged colored, flavorless influences. I could go half a step up and use food coloring in basic buttercream or cream cheese frosting, but any ideas for bright and tasty "honest" frosting (ie: the taste and color are from the food, not additives) would be much appreciated.

Figures from the above-mentioned volcano kit will all be fleeing the disaster.

Sparklers for candles

"Caution" sign that says "Happy birthday Isaac! I lava you"

Are your volcanic creative juices flowing yet? I'm looking forward to the onslaught.

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  1. when I have made this type of cake (it is a frequent request at my job) we bake several round cakes of different sizes then stack them to get the basic shape, butter cream between each layer. (cut the domed tops off before staking) Then use a large serrated knife and carve the cone shape, since it is rocky it doesn't have to be perfect. This method allows you ensure that they are baked evenly and stable.

    Then ice with a brown icing- butter cream works well for the moutain effect. As for the lava a water mix of red (or what ever color) royal icing work wonderfully to pool and flow. In addition you can carve a hole at the top and place a container in the hole and fill with dry ice for extra added effect. Candy rocks always add a nice touch as well.

    have fun!

    1 Reply
    1. re: poached

      That was going to be my suggestion exactly: don't try to bake a cone shaped cake, but construct the cone on a sheet cake using pieces of a separately baked cake and frosting/icing. The sheet cake will also give you ground for the fleeing figures <g>

      I have made a cake from Rose Levy Berenbaum before where you drizzle a loose custard over a bundt cake, sprinkle it with sugar and flame it so the sugar caramelizes. You could do something like that for your lava . . .

      I love the dry ice idea!

      On the subject of ice, though, I would be wary of playing with liquid nitrogen in a room full of 6 year olds. Just sayin'.

    2. for a friend's son's birthday they made a volcano "cake" (papier mache) and did the whole dyed red baking soda and vinegar "eruption" out of it... it was kind of a luau, tiki party thing... sparkler candles, etc. anyway, he blew out the "cake" and then set off the volcano... that was wheeled away (after being poked at and made to erupt a few times.. good thing vinegar and baking soda are inexpensive) and everyone was served a sheet cake, with candy rocks and raspberry "lava" on it. pretty cute and quite a production.. best done outside.
      :)

      1. I'd use a bundt cake pan (say 8-9") for the top part of the cake and then two round pans for the bottom of the volcano (one 10", one 12") and then shape the bottoms slightly. If you want to go further, I'd put it all on a sheet cake frosted green for grass but in that case with all the weight, you'd want to use dowel rods to support the upper layers. With the bundt pan, you'd have the center for lava. I'd use some kind of pudding (with macerated blended strawberries slightly stirred in) in the center so it would ooze out when you cut it.

        If you really want to be dramatic, what about a flambe baked alaska? I've never tried it but this looks interesting (and you can use your molds for the ice cream):

        http://sugarmtnfarm.com/blog/2006/06/...

        5 Replies
        1. re: chowser

          Chowser, those are very cool lava ideas, thanks!

          I had originally posted a partner topic in the "not about food" board, but when I just checked on it I saw that "this topic has been removed". I don't know why. Perhaps because it wasn't about food? Anywho, if anyone wants to suggests games or whatever, I'd love to hear your ideas here.
          Thanks

          1. re: saacnmama

            Topics need to be about food, or on the "Not about food" board related to food, eg. restaurants. I'm guessing party games/ideas that involve food, eg diet coke and mentos would be fine but games in general, eg waterballons, are not (Unless the waterballoons were filled with jello and then refrigerated which might be fun). BTW, did you see my suggestion there on the exploding firecracker popsicles?

            http://www.popsicle.com/products/indi...

            1. re: chowser

              Yes, games and decoration ideas are too far afield for Chowhound. Please help us keep the discussion here on food and recipes. Thanks!

              1. re: The Chowhound Team

                Well, I won't argue over whether the theme of the cake and party are related.
                But I would like some ideas on how to make a volcano cake flow red ganache.
                Cheers!

              2. re: chowser

                Wow! Do they explode in your mouth or what? Are they kind of like frozen poprocks?

          2. Today's the day! We're finally doing it. We've had things come up on his last few birthdays, but this year we're having 8 little friends over for his 9th birthday, and I'm baking the cake today.

            2 Replies
            1. re: saacnmama

              A day late and a dollar short, but there is a cookbook called The Special Effects Cookbook by Michael Samonek (1992). The first project is a volcano cake. He does six rounds stacked. The top two rounds have holes in the center to fit a juice glass. Use the juice glass to mold an aluminum foil receptacle, then place the foil into the hole in the cake. When ready to serve, commence with the lava: mix one egg white with a couple drops of red food coloring, whisking until thick and foamy. Put a couple chunks of dry ice in the hole, followed by the egg white mixture. Pour 1-2 oz hot water into the hole and orange lava and white smoke will erupt for several minutes. You have to be careful with the dry ice. I would test it with powdered egg white, so you don't have to worry about contamination.

              1. re: maxie

                Maxie, that sounds fantastic!

                This year's party featured a hilarious fail at making ice cream with dry ice--it bubbled over and just wouldn't stop. Maybe I'll try to improve my reputation with this cake next year. Thanks for posting it!