fondant smoother; straight or offset metal spatula; cake comb or textured edge of a paper plate; pastry bag (16-inch or 18-inch bags are preferable but 12-inch bags would work too); fondant sculpting/decorating tools; wire wrinkle tool; craft knife or paring knife; 3/4-inch round cookie cutter; ruler or yardstick; fondant rolling pin or wooden rolling pin; rotating cake stand/turntable; large paintbrush
For the tree stump cake: Put about 1/2 cup of the buttercream frosting into a bowl and dye it to look like the inside of a tree stump (a few drops of yellow and brown food dye). Spread a thin layer of the colored buttercream onto the top of your prepared 6-inch cake and smooth out into a flat layer. Using a cake comb in a clockwise motion, create concentric circles on the top of the cake to represent the rings of a tree.
Dust the bench with cornstarch and roll out the dark chocolate modeling chocolate so it is approximately 1/2 inch taller than the height of your cake and at least 20 inches long. The modeling chocolate should be kept fairly thick, approximately 1/2-inch.
Using the sculpting tools, start texturing the modeling chocolate with scrapes, lines, divets, etc.
After it is textured, trim the bottom edge so that you have a straight line. Wrap the modeling chocolate around the outside of the iced cake.
For the cardinal: Roll some of the red modeling chocolate into a ball a little larger than a golf ball. Rolling one end between two hands, taper the ball to a teardrop shape. The pointed end of the teardrop will be the head. Pinch the top of the head and pull backward to make the tuft of feathers on the cardinal's head. With a rolling pin, flatten the remaining red modeling chocolate to 1/8-to-1/4-inch thick. Cut out 3 teardrop shapes about 2 inches long using either a craft knife or a teardrop-shaped cookie cutter. These will be the wings and tail.
Dampen one side of each wing with a drop of water and stick them to the sides of the body. Do the same with the tail and stick it to the back. Use a tool to add feather details to the wings and tail if desired.
Using a rolling pin, roll out a small amount of black modeling chocolate to about 1/8-inch thick. Cut it into a diamond shape to make the black part of the cardinal's face. Dampen one side of the black chocolate and stick it to the face area of the cardinal. Use the dragees for eyes. (If you don't have dragees roll 2 small balls of black modeling chocolate with your hands to about 1/4-inch diameter. Stick them to the cardinal's head.)
Using ivory modeling chocolate, make a teardrop shape about 1/2-inch long. Stick it to the cardinal between its eyes to form a beak. Use a sculpting tool or a butter knife to add the mouth detail to the beak.
For the mouse: Choose a modeling chocolate color for your mouse – white, tan, grey, brown or a more fanciful color. Roll some of the mouse color modeling chocolate into 2 balls; 1 about the size of a golf ball, the other a little smaller. Dampen a small area of each ball with water and stick them together. These will form the head and body of the mouse. The larger ball is the body.
Roll 2 balls of mouse color modeling chocolate about the size of peas and stick them to the front of the mouse's head. Roll a small tube, 1/4-to-1/2-inch long and lay it between and on top of the 2 small balls. This will be the nose part of the mouse's muzzle.
Roll 2 tubes of the mouse color modeling chocolate about 1-inch long each for the mouse's forelegs. Attach them to the side of the body and head.
Roll 2 small balls of the mouse color modeling chocolate about the size of grapes and partially flatten them. These will be the haunches of the mouse's back legs. Attach them to the rear of the body on either side.
Make the mouse's 4 paws by rolling 4 balls out of pink modeling chocolate about 1/2-inch in diameter. Attach them to the ends of the forelegs and the front of the haunches. Use a sculpting tool or knife to add toe details to the paws.
Roll a very small ball of pink modeling chocolate and apply it to the tip of the nose.
Roll a "snake" of pink modeling chocolate between your hands for the tail and attach it to the mouse's behind.
Using a rolling pin, flatten out some pink modeling chocolate and some mouse color modeling chocolate. Using a 3/4-inch cookie cutter, cut 2 circles of each color. Dampen the backs of each pink circle and attach them to the mouse colored chocolate circles. These will be the mouse's ears. Attach them to the mouse's head.
Attach a very small piece of white or ivory modeling chocolate to the underside of the mouse's muzzle to make the protruding incisors.
For the mouse's eyes, use the dragees. (If you don't have dragees roll 2 small balls of black modeling chocolate with your hands to about 1/4-inch diameter. Stick them to the mouse's head.)
Add your sculptures to the cake.
Use the extra buttercream to add a snow effect to the top of the trunk and the board or plate your cake is on. Accent the snow with some clear crystal sugar.