How To: Gizmo Cake

Gremlins is one of my essential Christmas movies.  I mean, I'd want to watch Gremlins once a year regardless; it's funny, it's cute, and it's a little bit scary.  Plus, it has one of the most memorable musical themes from my childhood.  But it is also undoubtedly a Christmas movie.  From Billy's mom watching It's a Wonderful Life while decorating gingerbread cookies to caroling Gremlins and Corey Feldman dressed as a Christmas tree, the trappings of the holiday are all over it.

This year, I was happy to see it at my local movie theater's "Throwback Thursday" screening.  I wasn't able to see the movie in theaters when it was first released due to extenuating circumstances (I wasn't born yet), so this was my first time viewing it in a theater setting, and what a blast it was.  At a time when movies are more accessible than ever at home, it can be easy to forget the profound difference watching with a crowd can make, and the audience at my local theater did not disappoint, laughing and clapping as the Gremlins wreak havoc and "awwwing" at Gizmo, the little guy that made every kid wish they could have a Mogwai for Christmas.

So I couldn't resist making an ode to Gremlins for my friends' yearly holiday party.  It's not the easiest cake to make, but it's also not as complicated as it looks.  As far as special equipment all you'll need that you don't likely already have is a couple 6" cake pans, some flower wire and this awesome Wilton Shape-n-Amaze dough.  I thought I was going to have to make a gum paste from scratch, so I was pretty psyched to find this stuff already in the perfect color at my local craft store.

Check out below for step-by-step pics.

Gizmo Cake

2 boxes of cake mix (I used Chocolate and Yellow cake)

Eggs and Oil as is called for by the box instructions

Wilton Shape-N-Amaze Dough

Dark chocolate chips, melted

Vanilla Buttercream (recipe below)

Chocolate Buttercream (recipe below)


Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

2/3 cup butter, at room temperature

5 cups powdered sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

pinch of salt

3 - 6 tablespoons milk

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

2/3 cup butter, at room temperature

4 1/2 cups powdered sugar

1/2 cup cocoa powder

1 teaspoon vanilla

pinch of salt

3 - 6 tablespoons milk

For the cake:

Follow the instructions for each cake mix, but use two 6" cake pans instead of the usual 8-9" pans.  Check on the cakes after the recommended time on the box, using a toothpick in the center to check for done-ness.  It will likely need to bake for a few minutes longer than it would in the bigger pans.  Cool cakes completely.

For the vanilla frosting:

Mix together the butter and powdered sugar with an electric mixer, starting at a very low speed, so powdered sugar doesn't go flying everywhere.  Once they've started to come together, increase speed and add the vanilla and salt.  Add milk one tablespoon at a time and mix until the frosting as at the right consistency - smooth, but still thick enough to hold its shape, kind of like a toothpaste.

For the cocoa frosting:

Do the same thing, but add the cocoa powder along with the powdered sugar.

For the Shape N Amaze Dough:

Knead the dough until it's pliable and elastic, then form into the mouth, nose, eyelids, hands, feet and ears of your Mogwai.  Use wire on the ears so you'll have something to anchor them into your cake.  The rest of the pieces should be small enough that they'll stick with the buttercream.

To assemble:

Stack the cake layers with frosting between each layer on a cake plate.  Frost all around with a thin layer of the vanilla buttercream.  This doesn't have to be pretty - you'll be covering all of it.

Attach the dough pieces to your cake.  Let them sit for a few minutes after attaching to be sure they're stuck on there.  

Transfer your vanilla buttercream to a piping bag or tool affixed with a star tip.  Start piping on stars everywhere Gizmo's fur is white - around the right eye, chin, belly, arms, top of the head, and ears.  When you're done, frosting every other open space the same way with the chocolate buttercream.  Last but not least, transfer some vanilla frosting, chocolate frosting, and melted chocolate into different bags affixed with a simple small round tip and color in the eyes (melted chocolate for the pupil).  Add some details with a brush and a little brown food coloring.

When you're done, pop your Gizmo in the fridge until you're ready to eat, or until your roommate comes home and finds him (Sorry, Rachel!).