Ipso Fatto Instant Photo: Heather's Retirement Cake

I volunteered to make the cake for a retirement party for my friend Heather, someone whose good humor, great instincts, and first-rate legal skills I have relied on many times over the years. The party planners came up with a terrific theme, dubbing Heather's exit from our agency as "Heaxit." That gave me the idea for the cake design, which I decided to center around a homemade lace crown.

I kept the cake small, a quarter-sheet size. It was two layers of Rose Levy Beranbaum's chocolate butter cake frosted with chocolate American buttercream (the recipe from the "Chocolate Heaven" cake by Cheryl and Griffin Day). For the decoration, I made Nick Malgieri's chocolate plastic recipe, which is modeling chocolate. It's just a mixture of chocolate and corn syrup that is pliable like clay. You can roll it out into sheets, form it into ruffles, make flowers it into flowers, etc.
This was my first time making chocolate plastic and I played around with it a bit before deciding what specific decorations to make. In the end, I decided to make individual chocolate ruffles and a chocolate ribbon with "Heaxit" spelled out in fondant letters (I had some fondant leftover from Mary's cake the week before). For the crown, I made yellow cake lace using this lace droplet mold, and fastened the ends together with edible glue to form the crown. I had also made a chocolate peony (when I was experimenting with different decorating ideas) and I actually ended up putting it inside the crown to help hold the shape, because the crown was not rigid.

I was very happy with the way this cake turned out. I thought it looked appropriately regal to fit the party theme. And I really like the versatility of chocolate plastic. I'm sure I'll be using it again in the future.