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Coolest Winter Wonderland Penguin Cake

My children, aged 8 and 11 share a birthday month, and since we home school, they share many of the same friends as well. So this year, we decided to share a birthday party too. After fielding many, MANY suggestions regarding the party theme, I pulled rank and chose a Winter theme. Given that their birthdays fall in November, and we live in Canada, I figured decorating and party planning would be a SNAP (I was right!). Because I chose the theme, I let the children brainstorm the cake. Their two must-haves? An igloo and penguins. Fun! Fun! Fun!

I first baked a large sheet cake and covered it in white marshmallow fondant (I ALWAYS make my own fondant and icing, as my son has a severe nut allergy and all the store-bought stuff  “may contain traces of…” or is “processed in a facility that..”). For the igloo, I used a cake baked in a 1 quart Pyrex bowl stacked on top of a caked baked in a 6″ round pan. The igloo entrance was created using one cupcake. It took a wee bit of carving (like a WEE BIT. Just a little trimming and done!), and then a coat of icing topped with fondant. The hardest part was creating the bricks on the igloo – I’m a bit of a perfectionist and I just couldn’t get them even (my husband and children assured me that real igloos aren’t perfect either, but still…*sigh*).

The fun stuff came next. My daughter and I watched some tutorials on the internet and learned the basics of creating penguins out of fondant. Though it took a little bit of practice, it was surprisingly simple, and loads of fun. I ended up creating a whole penguin snowball fight, which was not part of the original plan, but which made us all laugh uproariously in the end. I loved how easy it was to create expressions on the penguins’ faces simply by changing the position of the pupils in the eyes.

Finally, the “lake” was created using melted chocolate that I spread on waxed paper, allowed to harden, and then cut into my lake shape. In hindsight, I wish I had cut a hole into the lake to give the impression of ice fishing. It’s the arctic, right? The lake would be frozen – oops! Ah well, no one else noticed the goof but me.

The reactions to the cake on party day made all the effort worth it! Lots of smiles, and many a story was created about the scene on the cake. The best rewards, however, were the giant bear hug I got from my children and the words:  “THANK YOU SO MUCH MOM!”