Halloween in my house means going all out on as many huge projects as possible and this cake is no different. It will take you a bit of time...so make sure you have a good 6 to 8 hours set aside so you can really focus in on the details that bring this cake to life.
You'll also need a WHOLE lot of ingredients and tools including:
- 2 boxes of red velvet cake mix
- Sour cream
- 1 can cream cheese frosting
- 10 cups of puff rice cereal
- 9 cups of mini marshmallows, divided
- ½ cup butter
- Cooking spray
- 1 bag pink candy melts
- 1 bag navy blue candy melts
- 1 bag black candy melts
- 1 bag brown candy melts
- 3 bags white candy melts
- Light corn syrup
- Powdered sugar
- Activated charcoal powder
You will also need:
- A skull-shaped cake pan (Nordic Ware makes my favorite!)
- One cardboard cake round
- 3 thin wooden skewers
- Spatula or other smoothing tools
- Silicone baking pad or waxed paper
- Rolling pin
- Flat butter knife
- Small food only paint brush
- A cake board with a suitably strong center pole that’s been wrapped in tin foil or protective cooking wrap.
Got all that??? Good! Then let's get baking!
Step 1: Making the Cake Base
The first thing you need to do is make your red velvet skull. The best way to make sure you do this and create the most difficult environment for you to focus in is to start this project late at night. 9 pm seems to be about the time I manage to get things going on most projects as that’s after I get home from work, have dinner, and clean up the kitchen.
Prepare the mix according to the directions on the box but replace all the water in the mix with an equal amount of sour cream and add 1 more egg than the recipe calls for. This will make your cake heavier and denser than it would be if you followed the directions exactly. Because we’re hanging so much off of this cake in the way of modeling chocolate, you will want a cake that can handle the weight without crumbling or collapsing, hence the need for a dense cake.
Because the cake pans we’re using are so deep, I’ve found that two cake mixes work really well.
Fill each side of the pan up half way and then use any remaining cake to fill up 8″ or 9″ cake pans. This will give you not only the skull shape to work with, but extra cake you can use to fill any holes, use for support, or just make some awesomely delicious cake pops out of like these bubbling cauldron cake pops here. Once your skull is baked, remove it from the pan and allow it to fully cool. Once it’s cooled, pop it into the freezer to thoroughly chill.
Step 2: Making the Rice Cereal Structural Support
While it’s chilling, you’ll need to make your rice cereal base. In a large pot on your stove, mix together 8 of your 9 cups of mini marshmallows with your ½ cup butter. Allow the entire mixture to thoroughly melt and then cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly so it doesn’t burn or stick to the pot. Add in your 8 cups of puffed rice cereal and mix until it’s all thoroughly mixed in and allow to cool for about 5 minutes.
Spray your hands with a bit of cooking spray and start scooping up that cereal mixture and applying it to your cake board. We’ll be using this for the shoulders and neck of Mike, so you want to make sure the shape is broad enough to be masculine. I found holding up the skull cake pan as a reference to occasionally judge the size of his head in relation to how I was making his shoulders really helped.
This cake, when it's all said and done, is going to be HEAVY, so having a good base like this will make it possible for your cake to remain standing without collapsing under its own weight, so make sure when you're packing your cereal down that you do it as tightly as possible.
Wrap the cereal treat around the center pole of the cake board for the neck and flatten out the top.
Cut your cardboard cake round down to the size of the top of Michael’s neck and place on top of your rice cereal. This will form the support to help hold up his head.
Step 3: Building From the Bones Up
By now your red velvet skull should be fully frozen.
Using your cream cheese frosting as glue, place the two halves of your red velvet skull on either side of the cake board pole. Make sure the base of your neck is resting on the cardboard round on top of the neck. Use a few more dabs of frosting to help glue it in place.
Again, what we’re doing to this cake is going to be heavy, so for added strength, I used three wooden skewers cut to size to help hold the two halves of my cake together. I slid a skewer into the cake horizontally through the center of each eye and a third one through the center of the forehead just over where the cake board pole ended. I also used a bit of excess red velvet that I cut off when trimming the cake to mold Michael a rough nose.
I then gave the entire thing a solid crumb coat with frosting and put it back into the freezer to firm up.
Step 4: Skinning Michael
Now let’s start making our exterior covering for the cake...our "skin." While it's possible to use homemade fondant (which is arguably 100 million times better than store-bought), I decided to use modeling chocolate instead. Not only will it hold up better to excess weight, but it’s easier to sculpt which will really help bring this cake to life.
We’ll start by first melting down 2 ½ of our 3 bags of white candy melts. You can do this either using a double boiler over water or by simply putting them into a microwave safe bowl and zapping them for 30-second intervals, stirring between each zap. Regardless of what method you use, you want your candy melts to be completely melted and smooth.
Once they’re liquid, add in about ½ a cup of light corn syrup and start stirring. At first, the chocolate and corn syrup will be easy to stir, but as you mix, it will result in a rough, grainy mixture. Once it gets too hard to stir, grab a handful and start kneading by hand. I strongly suggest you do this over a sink or bowl as the mixture will leak excess cocoa butter and liquid that can be quite messy.
Continue to knead the mixture until you end up with a smooth clay-like texture. Repeat this process to create the navy-blue modeling chocolate for Michael’s jumpsuit and the black modeling chocolate for his shirt and eye holes. Hold off on making the brown as we’ll be treating that slightly different to achieve a texture we can use for his hair.
To make the skin colored modeling chocolate we’ll be using for Michael’s neck, melt down the last ½ bag of white candy melt and add in 5 pink candy melts and 2 brown candy melts. You should end up with a skin colored mixture. Add in about ¼ cup of corn syrup and stir/knead just like we did before to create flesh colored modeling chocolate.
Step 5: Time to Start Layering
Hopefully, by now your crumb coated cake will be chilled enough that you are able to smooth out any rough spots in your frosting and prepare it for the first layer of modeling chocolate.
Pull off a large amount of your white modeling chocolate and roll it out flat with your rolling pin to a thickness of approximately ¼ inch. Carefully drape this over his head and use your hands to smooth it down, cutting off any excess and gently pressing it into any nooks or crannies to help highlight natural features like his nose and cheeks. To make the bulges under his eyes, I just rolled up small balls of modeling chocolate and pressed them down, using my fingers to smooth and join the edges.
A bit of vodka works wonders when joining modeling chocolate together. Use it to lightly moisten the edges you want to join and then smooth them down with your fingers to create a seamless finish.
Repeat this process for his neck using your flesh colored modeling chocolate, bringing it up to just under his chin and wrapping it halfway around his neck and shoulders. I also pressed large discs of black modeling chocolate into where his eye holes in the mask would be, smoothing those out and pushing in hard to create deep recesses.
Next, I rolled out the black modeling chocolate and wrapped it around the front of his chest, creating his t-shirt.
To make the neckline, I rolled out a flat strip and placed it over the top of the black I had already placed, giving it a raised appearance. By gently pressing into the strip at regular intervals with the back of a flat butter knife, I created the look of ribbing.
To create his coveralls, I just rolled out a large sheet of navy blue and wrapped it around his shoulders, cutting away the excess that was covering the black of his t-shirt to create the v-neck.
To do the collar, I rolled out a strip of the navy blue about 6 inches long and 4 inches wide and cut it using the pattern in the photos above.
I draped that over Michael’s shoulders and used my vodka to glue it down.
To create the back of his collar, I simply cut out a 1” strip and wrapped that around the edge of his shirt, tucking the ends under the collar flaps I had just attached.
Step 6: Bringing Michael to Life
Now that Michael was dressed and it was well past midnight, it was time to start working on getting his features really refined.
As you can see from the photo, my kitchen assistants were hard at work as well, helping to ensure that any stray marshmallows I may have dropped didn’t go to waste.
Using rolled up ‘worms’ of white modeling chocolate, I created the edges around the eye holes in the mask, added in ridges above it for his eyebrows, refined his lips, created ears, and struggled with his nose (he went through about five versions.) I also created a large strip of white modeling chocolate about 4 inches wide and wrapped this loosely around his entire neck, attaching it just below his chin, to give the appearance of the bottom edge of his mask.
To give his mask the dirty weathered look it has in the films, I mixed a few tablespoons of powdered sugar with one capsule of activated charcoal to create a grey dust.
After wrapping his lower half in plastic wrap to help keep it from getting too dirty, I used my food safe paint brush to brush on the gray powder, paying attention to the creases in his face, around his eyes, his ears, and along his hairline. Pretending he was the least attractive Kardashian in history, I employed the same technique I have seen used by them for highlighting and contouring, using the brush to really rub the color into the surface of the chocolate and helping blend the edges. Yay, Youtube makeup tutorials!
Step 7: To Hair or Not to Hair
Finally happy with how he was coming together, I was faced with perhaps the hardest decision of the entire night…and considering it was after 2am, it was truly an epic struggle to make this decision: Give Michael hair and complete the look as planned or give in to my exhaustion, jam a lightbulb in his mouth and pretend I had meant all along to create an Uncle Fester cake?
A Redbull and a small pep talk from mym dog Lucifur (the Lord of Barkness) later and I was ready to press on and finish Michael as promised, starting with making his hair.
To create the slightly textured look for his hair I melted down the brown candy melts and added in corn syrup just as before, but this time also added in 1 cup of melted mini marshmallows. This gave the modeling chocolate a thicker, stringier final result that when stretched quickly, created the look I wanted.
To attach his hair, I gave his scalp a thin layer of light corn syrup, trying to follow where exactly I thought his hairline would be. To create the layered look, I started at the nape of his neck, attaching one “plug” of chocolate hair at a time. I worked from the bottom to the top, placing each row with the edges of the next row over them to help hide the edges.
To create the front of his hair and his “swoop,” I rolled a small tube of brown chocolate and placed it along the top of the second to last row. This allowed me to drape the final front row over that and give it a bit of height. Holy hell, it was officially 4 am and the cake was as far done as I was going to get.
Step 8: Wrapping It All Up
My kitchen minions had officially called it a night and while I was ‘done’ with the cake, it just seemed like something was…off.
I stepped back about 10 feet and really looked at it and realized that his head was almost perfect, but it was a bit wide.
Taking a cue from Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers and his treatment of world’s worst boyfriend, Brady, I wrapped my hands around Michael’s head and squeezed, compressing the whole damn thing in, creating a narrower profile.
Ahh, much better!
I was now the proud owner of a fully completed and deliciously creepy Michael Myers cake! And hopefully, if you follow these directions, you'll be able to make one as well!