Welcome to the 2015 “Festival of Meat-Cake”.
Last year’s Rainbow Chicken Schnitzel Cake was a hard act to follow, but this year’s epic creation is even bigger and better.
Introducing the new Hugzilla meat-cake: CROQUEMBALLS.
Disclaimer: I did not invent this dish. I came up with the idea independently, but was mildly disappointed to discover it had already been attempted twice before.
Croquemballs was clearly inspired by the signature tower of profiteroles that is the iconic croquembouche, but instead of pastry the Hugzilla version is made from meatballs.
Constructed on a phallic cone of play-doh (more on that later) croquemballs defies gravity; a towering edible-fascia of meat, sauce and cheese.
PLANNING AND PREPARATION
My ambitious cake projects are characterised by the fact that I do next-to-zero preparation for them. Briefly pondering the concept, I decide it requires two things:
1) Large styrofoam cone
My first mistake is to assume that I can get a styrofoam cone in town, two days before cake-day.
I live in a small town where the local supermarket has a complete monopoly. They run it like a money-laundering front for organised crime and could teach the Mafia a thing or two about extortion. It’s the sort of place you gladly pay $16 for a bag of apples that have been in cold-storage since the late-1990s, because you are pleasantly surprised they even have a bag of apples at all.
So really, my first mistake is being stupid. Of course I’m not going to be able to buy a large #@^%&ing styrofoam cone in town. I have a markedly better chance of scoring cones of dope in the main street than cones of styrofoam.
That leaves me with one option: I desperately scour eBay in a mad panic, falling in a dejected heap when I realise that nothing can be delivered in time.
I am forced to improvise. Truth be told, that’s where I really shine anyway.
MAKING THE CAKE
My structural problems are solved when I come up with the genius idea of using play-doh for the inner cone, a bolt of inspiration that comes completely out of the blue.
Cake-day arrives in a flurry of activity. A friend has visited for a baking home tutorial and it happily coincides with meat-cake day, so she makes two batches of play-doh which I shape into a cone. We giggle like schoolgirls in sex-ed class because it kind of resembles a large cock.
It’s a bit wobbly so I stick a long bamboo skewer down the shaft to stabilise it (apologies to the male readers of Hugzilla, who are no doubt clasping their knees together and clutching their crotches protectively as we speak).
The plan is to bake it in the oven so the play-doh goes hard and erect. I also need to put it in the oven so I can melt cheese over the meatballs at the very end.
There is one small problem: 11-inches of meat-cone is too much for my oven to handle. True to Hugzilla form, I’d failed to measure anything and it doesn’t @#!^ing fit.
My solution is to hurriedly tear an inch off the top. My husband arrives home shortly afterwards and suggests I use his hot air gun instead, so I stick it back on again.
It now looks like a circumcised penis.
Without skipping a beat, my husband rushes over to cut a slit in the top and we fall about laughing for 10 minutes. In between guffaws he christens it “cock and balls” (a play on the word “croquemballs”), something I find irresistibly funny after half a bottle of wine.
It’s crunch-time. Starting at the bottom and working my way around I use toothpicks to attach the meatballs to the cone. The fact that they all remain intact is some sort of miracle and I start to do a little victory dance around the kitchen as my grand vision
of stupidity materialises.
And then it all starts to go pear-shaped.
Or – to be more precise – it goes limp-dicked.
The meatballs are still warm so my once-erect cone goes soft and flaccid, and the top half starts slumping to the side. Meatballs are falling off everywhere and it takes a whirlwind of clumsy hands to stick them all back on. It’s another crucial engineering mistake and I’m kicking myself for being stupid. Again.
With the benefit of hindsight I realise that I should have cooked them much earlier and attached them after they had completely cooled down. But it’s too late for that. I’ve already gone off half-cocked.
With the help of my husband I hurriedly complete the rest of the cake. The final product emerges amongst a mad flurry of meatballs, bottled sauces and hastily grated Coon. There is no time for hot air guns or melted cheese, and certainly no time for ceremony. We frantically stick candles in and take photos before the whole thing collapses.
Standing back to admire my work, I know I’ve outdone myself.
It’s a euphoric combination of pride, disbelief, gratification and greasy-meatball residue.
I can’t wait until next year.
2016: We’ll meat again.
THE END RESULT