Kids will love helping create this easy and fun-to-make arctic scene. A vanilla cake, filled with a sweet, delicious layer of marshmallow crème, gets piled with marshmallows to make it look like an igloo. Puffy polar bears and roasting gummy fish make cute edible decorations.
an 8-inch cake pan, an 8-inch half-sphere pan (or an 8-inch oven-safe bowl with a completely rounded bottom) and sharp kitchen shears
For the cake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray an 8-inch round cake pan and 8-inch half-sphere cake pan with cooking spray and dust with flour, tapping out the excess (see Cook's Note).
Prepare the cake batter according to the package directions. Pour a little more than half the batter into the half-sphere pan and pour the remaining batter into the round pan. Bake until the cake round is baked through and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 22 to 25 minutes. Remove to a rack to cool. Reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees F and continue baking the half-sphere until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 10 to 15 minutes more. Remove to a rack to cool. Remove the cakes from the pans while still warm and let cool completely on the rack.
For the igloo and polar bears: If the top of either cake domed while baking, shave it flat with a serrated knife before proceeding. Place the cake round bottom-side down on a large rimmed serving tray. Spread the top of the cake with the marshmallow creme almost to the edge (a wet offset spatula is helpful when spreading the creme). Place the half-sphere cake flat-side down on top of the cake round.
Cut the doughnut in half to make 2 half circles, trimming the insides of the pieces if necessary to make 2 arched doorways for the igloo. Frost the 2 pieces, stick them together so you have a short tunnel and attach it to the igloo with more frosting. Spread the remaining frosting all over the cake and doorway.
Set aside 8 regular marshmallows, then snip the remaining regular marshmallows in half from top to bottom (lengthwise) with sharp kitchen shears. Starting at the base of the cake and continuing in a circle, press the cut side of the marshmallows into the frosting to adhere to the igloo, packing the pieces as close as possible so almost no frosting shows through. Continue adding snipped marshmallows in rows until you reach the top. Add more snipped marshmallows to finish the doorway, quartering some lengthwise if necessary to make a tight fit. Cut 1 of the remaining whole regular marshmallows in half crosswise and put one piece on the very top of the igloo. Spread the granulated sugar around the cake on the tray to make drifts of snow.
To make 3 polar bear heads: Snip a thin piece from one of the flat ends of 3 regular marshmallows to make them sticky. Flip the marshmallows over onto a plate so the untrimmed flat sides are face up. Snip a thin piece from the top and bottom of 3 mini marshmallows, then adhere a marshmallow to the center of each of the heads (these are the bases of the noses). Press a brown chocolate candy onto each mini marshmallow. To make eyes, use a toothpick to hollow out 2 sticky patches on each head, then apply a set of candy eyes to each. Cut 3 mini marshmallow in half crosswise and attach 2 pieces to the top of each head for ears.
To make the floating polar bear: Clear a space in the sugar snow with your fingers for a pool. Add the rock candy. Place one of the polar bear heads on the rock candy so it looks like it is peeking out of the water. Snip 2 regular marshmallows in half diagonally to make 4 triangular pieces. Arrange the pieces in the pool for paws.
To make the sitting polar bears: Snip a disc from both the top and bottom flat ends of the remaining 2 regular marshmallows, then cut each disc into half-moons. Arrange 4 of the half-moon pieces cut-side up in a square to form front and back paws; arrange the other 4 in another square. Snip the jumbo marshmallow in half diagonally, then place one piece on each set of paws cut-side up, with the round end at the front set of paws. Attach a polar bear head to the upper third of the round end of each jumbo marshmallow piece. Snip an end from the remaining 2 mini marshmallows and attach one to each jumbo marshmallow piece for a tail. Sit the polar bears on the sugar.
For the campfire and fish: Sprinkle the chopped chocolate pieces in a circle to resemble dirt for a fire pit. Pile the red, orange, pink and yellow snipped gummy bears in the center to resemble a campfire and embers.
To make a fish over the fire: Cut an 8-inch piece of black licorice lace. Cut a small slit near the tail of 1 fish with the tip of a paring knife, making sure not to cut all the way through the tail. Thread the licorice lace through the slit and tie a knot on one end. Slide the fish down so it is secured by the knot. Lay the fish down on a work surface and lay 3 of licorice twist pieces on top of the fish so the tail of the fish and the end of the twisted licorice candies line up (eat or discard the fourth piece of licorice twist). Wrap the black licorice lace around the top of the licorice twists to keep them in a bundle, then tuck in the lace so it stays put. Stand the bundle upright and separate the licorice twists to form a tripod. Place it over the fire with the fish hanging in the middle.
For the fish on the line: Make a small slit near the tails of the 3 remaining fish with the tip of a paring knife, making sure not to cut all the way through the tails. Thread the remaining piece of black licorice lace through the slits. Tuck the ends of the licorice lace into the side of the igloo near the fire and arrange the fish so they hang down. Sprinkle the cake and bears with the confectioners' sugar for a snow effect, if desired.
You can special order half-sphere cake pans online or use an 8-inch oven-safe bowl with a fully rounded bottom.
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