Death By Chocolate Cake for less than $20

death by chocolate cake hero image

As many of you know (and some may not…) this whole Eat the Dead adventure started about two years ago when I decided to put a cake I dubbed “Death by Chocolate” online.

original death by chocolate skull cake

At the time, it was my very first venture into horror baking and the entire process was long and laborious.  it involved first making a silicone mold of a skull, required a special skull shaped baking pan, and a cake made from scratch that took over 2 hours to bake.

All in all, the entire process took over 48 hours and cost close to $100.  While that’s all fine and dandy for really epic parties or when you need an absolutely realistic skull cake for an on-camera project, for most of us, it’s not realistic…which is why when I had several people reach out and ask if there was a more affordable (and faster option) I started looking around for ways to make things work for everyone.

And thus the Death by Chocolate for less than $25 was achieved

and the world rejoiced!

While the white chocolate skull at the center of our cake isn’t quite what I’d call ‘scientifically accurate,’ it’s still a show-stopping cake that has more than enough gore involved to make even the bravest chocolate fan look twice.

Now, before we begin, this post will contain links to shopping websites (Amazon) so you can pick up exactly what I picked up when making this project…and yes, those links are affiliate links.  For all the details about what this means, feel free to check out my full disclosure here.

We’ll also be doing this post a bit different as it’s really just a video tutorial today (one of my New Year’s Resolutions is more videos so here we go!) and we’ll be skipping most of the directions for the cake as you can get that right off the box you’ll be using.

So without further ado, the full breakdown.

  • 1 skull mold – $6.19 (Amazon)
  • 1 box red velvet cake mix – $1.50 (Duncan Hines – Target)
  • 1 can chocolate fudge frosting – $ 2.50 (Pillsbury – Target)
  • 1 bag white candy melts – $2.99 (Wilton – JoAnn’s)

Option 1 for a fondant skin:

  • 1 bag mini marshmallows – $2.10 (Kraft Jet-Puffed – Target)
  • 2 bags white candy melts – $2.99 (Wilton – JoAnn’s)
  • Lemon juice – $2.09 (ReaLemon – Target)
  • Powdered Sugar – $2.10 (C&H – Target)

Option 2 for a modeling chocolate skin (if you hate fondant!):

  • 1 bag white candy melts – $2.99 (Wilton – JoAnn’s)
  • 1 bottle light corn syrup – $2.79 (Karo – Target)

Total cost (before taxes): $22.46 if you go with the fondant skin and only $18.96 if you go for the modeling chocolate skin.

Of course, this doesn’t include the extra ingredients you’ll need for the cake like eggs and oil, and odds are, you already have all that on hand!  I’m also going to assume you already have chocolate syrup, red food coloring and instant coffee on hand (for the fake blood glaze) as those are generally ‘staples’ for any pantry.  If not, and you end up buying them, it still doesn’t raise the price of the final product to more than $25).

NOT BAD!

The first thing you have to do is make your cake.  Go ahead, just make it exactly as the directions on the box tells you.  Bake it in just about any shaped cake pan you want.  I used an 8″ round cake pan but a square one would work just as well.

Once it’s done baking, let it cool off.

While that’s happening, melt one of your bags of white candy melts and use it to make your skull using your new skull mold (pro tip, give the mold a spritz of cooking spray before you pour your chocolate in, it’ll make getting it out much easier after it’s set).

To make your fondant ‘skin,’ you will need:

  • 3 1/2 cups mini marshmallows
  • 4 cups powdered (icing) sugar
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2/3 cup white candy melts

Add your marshmallows, candy melts, and your lemon juice together in a microwave-safe bowl.  Zap in your microwave for 30 seconds at a time and stir between zaps until smooth and liquid.

Pour your powdered sugar into a large bowl and scoop out a small well in the center.  Pour in your melted marshmallow/candy melt mixture and cover with powdered sugar.  Knead the sugar into your liquid mixture until you achieve a smooth, pliable dough.  Don’t worry, you won’t use up all the powdered sugar.  Save some of your excess sugar to use when rolling out your fondant.

If you want your fondant to be flesh covered, add in a few drops of red and brown food coloring to your marshmallow/candy melt mixture before kneading.

If you’re not a fan of fondant, and would rather have a modeling chocolate skin, you will need:

  • 1 bag candy melts
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup

Zap your candy melts in your microwave for 30 seconds at a time and stir between zaps until smooth and liquid.

Once those are all melted, let it rest for about 5 minutes.  You’ll want the candy to still be liquid smooth, but just above the melting point.

At the 5 minute mark, mix in ¼ cup of light corn syrup into your melted candy melts.  This is also the point where you want to add in a few drops of brown and red food coloring if you want a flesh-colored chocolate.

At first, the candy melt and corn syrup will mix smoothly, but then you’ll notice the mixture getting thicker and thicker and harder to stir.

making_the_candy_clay.jpg
This photo is an example only and from another project. Ignore the fact that it’s orange!

When the mixture comes together in a thick almost paste-like texture, pull out of the bowl and use your hands to knead together.

This part is VERY MESSY!  I strongly suggest doing this part over the sink.  As the candy melt and corn syrup mix, you’ll have a lot of liquid coming out of the dough…don’t worry, this is normal!  Just keep kneading.  Eventually, all the excess liquid will either drip off or be worked back into the dough and you’ll be left with a smooth clay-like final product.

Wrap your modeling chocolate ball in plastic wrap and stash in the fridge to firm up for about 30 minutes.

To make the blood glaze for the cake, it’s a simple recipe of a bit of chocolate syrup with a bit of light corn syrup, a dash of blood and a pinch of instant coffee.  While I could give you exact measurements, it’s really more about how you like your blood.  Want it thicker and “old” looking?  Up your ratio of chocolate syrup.  Want it fresher and more arterial?  Kick up the red food coloring, pull back on the chocolate syrup and go extra light on the instant coffee.  It’s all about personal preferences.

Now that your fondant (or modeling chocolate) is made and we’ve discussed how to make the blood glaze, it’s time to finally assemble your cake.  Now, as I said earlier, we’re working on more video, so here’s the entire assembly from beginning to end so you can see just how it all comes together!

Bone appetite!

 

 

 

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