Debbie Goard’s Twisted Cakes features instructions for crafting a wide variety of creepy treats. Looking to serve a dead mouse? Make a mousetrap cake. Have a hankering for cockroaches? There’s a cake for that too.
She calls this dish “Chop Chop,” though in the interest of full disclosure we renamed it Severed Arm Cake.
The dessert is a bit of a project, but you can simplify it by cutting out a few of the steps. On the other hand, this may be your one chance to put pores and veins on a cake, so take your time and scare your kids.
Severed Arm Cake
(Adapted from Debbie Goard’s Twisted Cakes)
In the 1986 film Blue Velvet, a young man comes across a human ear in a field. He begins an investigation to find the owner, resulting in a journey into his hometown’s seedy underbelly. This theme of discarded flesh fascinated me. Under what circumstances would you abandon a body part? I wanted to portray the limb as not only lost but also forgotten, and maybe languishing among fallen leaves or weeds. Serve this cake, and you and your guests can concoct your own backstory of the errant limb—a zombie attack, perhaps, or a warning message from mobsters?
Chop Chop !
Stuff you’ll need
- 12 x 18 in. (30 x 45 cm) wooden cake board, ½ in. (1 cm) thick
- 12 x 18 in. (30 x 45 cm) piece astroturf
- hot-glue gun
- 6 ft. (1.8 m) green ribbon, to trim board edges
- arm template
- foam core, for arm shape
- craft, serrated, and small paring knives
- large piping bag and quick-ice tip
- modeling tool
- rolling pin
- scrub brush
Food stuff you’ll need
- airbrush colors: ivory, red, green, and black
- 1 sheet wafer paper
- 1 recipe red velvet cake batter, baked in ¼ sheet pan
- 3 cups (700 ml) decorator’s buttercream icing
- 8 oz. (225 g) modeling chocolate
- 1¾ lb. (800 g) white fondant, tinted fleshtone color
- 2 oz. (55 g) white fondant
- black petal dust
1. Cover cake board
Cover the cake board with the sheet of astroturf, using the hot-glue gun to attach turf to board. Fix green ribbon around sides of board with hot-glue gun. Trim excess.
2 Make the weeds
Spray ivory airbrush color over one side of sheet of wafer paper. Let dry. Turn sheet over and airbrush other side with ivory color. Let dry, than cut into fine strips of varying lengths to serve as weeds or straw. Set aside.
3 Cut out arm shape
Cut out an arm shape from the foam core using the craft knife.
4 Cut out cake
Attach the foam arm shape to the top of the chilled cake with a dab of buttercream icing. Following the outline of the arm shape, cut out the cake with the serrated knife.
5 Layer with buttercream
Carefully split the cake in half horizontally using the serrated knife. With large piping bag and quick-ice tip, pipe a generous layer of buttercream over cut side of one half. Place other cut half of cake on top.
6 Build up arm
Cut out strips of leftover cake and attach with dabs of buttercream to the upper part of the arm to add height and bulk.
7 Carve the cake
Using the small paring knife, carefully carve the top of the arm to create a rounded shape.
8 Ice the cake
Pipe buttercream over the top and sides of the arm, using the large piping bag and quick-ice tip. Smooth over the surface of the icing with a spatula.
9 Add the details
Roll out balls and snakes of modeling chocolate in varying sizes and use to build up features, such as veins and muscle details, on the arm and hand.
10 Make the fingers
Roll out five sausage-shaped pieces of modeling chocolate to form the fingers and the thumb. Attach to hand end of iced cake. Shape and add detail with modeling tool.
11 Roll out skin
Roll out the fleshtone-tinted fondant onto a lightly dusted surface to a thickness of about ¼ in. (5 mm).
12 Apply the skin
Loosely wrap the rolled-out sheet of fondant around the rolling pin, then carefully unfurl the fondant over the top of the iced cake.
13 Trim excess fondant
Carefully trim away excess fondant from around the arm and general hand shape with the craft knife. Tuck cut edges of the fondant neatly under cake. reserve leftover fondant.
14 Shape the fingers
Use craft knife or small paring knife to cut away the fondant around the fingers. With modeling tool, tuck cut fondant edges under the fingers to round them off.
15 Flesh out features
With end of modeling tool, carefully press fondant around vein and muscle details to emphasize shape. Mark knuckle detail on fingers and thumb.
16 Make the nails
Mark out the nails on fingers and thumb with tip of craft knife. Shape nails and add detail with modeling tool.
17 Create pores
Press the scrub brush lightly over the entire surface of the fondant skin to create the look of pores. Set cake aside to firm up for 1–2 hours.
18 Fix cake to board
Carefully lift cake onto the astroturf-covered board, using a few dabs of buttercream icing to fix cake in position.
19 Make severed end
Roll out a piece of fleshtone-tinted fondant large enough to cover end of the arm. Using scrub brush, indent heavily with texture. Attach to severed end of arm with dabs of water. Trim edges.
20 Airbrush on color
Airbrush the severed end of the arm with light coats of red color. Spray light layers of green and black color over the entire arm and hand for a gangrene-ish look.
21 Make the bones
Roll out a sausage of white fondant, about ¾ in. (2 cm) thick and 1½ in. (4 cm) long. Cut into two pieces. Fix with water onto severed end of arm. Imprint texture on “bone” ends with scrub brush. Lightly airbrush red.
22 Add blood
Using a small paintbrush, drip red airbrush color liberally over the severed end of the arm.
23 Refine details
Using the modeling tool, pull up the nail ends to create cracked nails. Use black petal dust to emphasize veins and skin creases and to cover arm with a layer of “dirt.”
24 Scatter the weeds
Scatter the paper weeds, prepared in step 2, over the astroturf grass around the arm.