Halloween Baking Championship judge Carla Hall knows a thing or two about scary cakes. And her pull-me-up cake recipe, AKA a cake that uses a see-through plastic sheet that you pull up to reveal an explosion of liquid icing or melting chocolate oozing down the cake, looks as scary as it sounds. Did we mention it was even more delicious? Carla recommends putting a plastic toy hatchet, meat cleaver or a dagger into the top of a cake of your choice (her recipe for a delicious red velvet cake is below), but she says buying a store-bought cake is OK too.
Related: 16 Scary-Good Halloween Cakes and Cupcakes
Carla Hall’s Bloody Good Tsunami Cake
Prep Time: 1 hours
Cook Time: 2 hours (includes cooling and chilling)
Total Time: 3 hours
Roasted Beet Purée:
2 large beets
¼ tsp kosher salt
1 Tbsp olive oil
Red Velvet Cake:
2½ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for the cake pans
1½ cups granulated sugar
2 Tbsp cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp kosher salt
¾ cup buttermilk
½ cup vegetable oil
2 Tbsp red food coloring
1 tsp white vinegar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs, at room temperature
Cream Cheese Frosting:
1 lb (454 g) cream cheese, at room temperature
1 stick (8 Tbsp) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups white chocolate chips, melted
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups powdered sugar
Bloody Good Tsunami Topping:
1½ cups milk
1⅓ cups heavy cream
¼ cup cornstarch
Pinch kosher salt
1¾ cups sweetened condensed milk
Red food coloring, as needed
Red sprinkles, for topping
Red sparkling sugar, for topping
Related: 15 Creepy (and Cute) Halloween Party Food Ideas
Special equipment: two 8-inch (20 cm) round cake pans; an 8-inch (20 cm) cake round; a rotating cake stand; a plastic toy hatchet, meat cleaver or dagger; a large sheet of clear acetate, at least 2 inches wider and 5 inches taller than the assembled cake.
1. For the roasted beet purée: Preheat the oven to 425ºF.
2. Place the beets in a piece of foil and season with the salt. Top with the olive oil and a splash of water, close up the foil and roast until a knife or skewer comes out with ease when inserted into the beets, 25 to 30 minutes. Set aside to cool just enough to handle.
3. Peel the beets, transfer to a blender with any remaining juices and purée, adding up to ¼ cup water if needed to get it to puree.
4. For the red velvet cake: Reduce the oven temperature to 350ºF. Butter and flour two 8-inch (20 cm) round cake pans.
5. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the flour, granulated sugar, cocoa, baking soda and salt. Mix on low for 30 seconds with the paddle attachment.
6. In a separate bowl, whisk to combine ½ cup of the roasted beet purée, the buttermilk, oil, food coloring, vinegar, vanilla and eggs. In 2 parts, pour into the mixer. Mix on medium speed until combined. Do not overmix. Pour the batter into the prepared pans.
7. Bake on the center rack until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes, then turn out on a wire rack. Let the cakes cool completely before frosting.
8. For the cream cheese frosting: Meanwhile, beat the cream cheese and butter in a large bowl with an electric mixer until combined. Add the chocolate and vanilla extract, then continue to mix until incorporated. Next, slowly add the powdered sugar, beating until the frosting is light and fluffy. Transfer to a piping bag or Zip Top bag and snip off the end.
9. Pipe a tablespoon of frosting onto a rotating cake stand and place an 8-inch cake round on top, pressing gently to adhere. Place the first cake on the cake round and trim the dome to make flat if needed. Cut the cake in half horizontally to make 2 layers. Frost the top of the first layer, then place the second half on top and frost. Repeat with the remaining cake, cutting in half and stacking between layers of frosting. There should be 4 layers. Finally, frost the sides, finishing with the top.
10. For the bloody good tsunami topping: Whisk the milk, heavy cream, cornstarch and salt in a medium saucepan until smooth. Heat over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture just begins to thicken, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and immediately whisk in the condensed milk and red food coloring (as many drops to get the color you prefer). Place a layer of plastic wrap over the top of the mixture to prevent a skin from forming, then allow to cool completely before using.
11. To assemble the bloody good tsunami cake: cut a sheet of clear acetate that can wrap completely around the base of the cake, adding an extra 2 inches so that it can be secured with tape on the side and also making sure that the acetate is taller than the top of the cake by at least 5 inches. Wrap the acetate around the cake and tape it to form a long tube – it should not be so tight as to squeeze against the outer layer of the cake, but still have no gaps at the top of the cake so that the topping will not seep over the edges. Gently spoon the bloody good tsunami topping over the top of the cake, then spoon an even layer of red sprinkles and sparkling sugar, about ¼ inch thick, over the topping. Plunge a plastic toy hatchet, meat cleaver or dagger into the center of the top of the cake – it should be very decorative and realistic looking for the best effect!
12. To reveal the tsunami, grasp the top of the acetate and gently pull up to loosen from the base of the cake, then continue pulling up over the top of the cake in one single motion to allow the topping to cascade over the side of the cake.
Related: Apple Poke Cake
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Recipe courtesy of Carla Hall.