My son turned ten last month (on August 11th), which I still don’t fully understand. I think someone is playing a sick joke on me. I mean, I just gave birth to the kid! Like yesterday. The pain and joy and pain and nerves and excitement and pain of that day is still so vivid. There’s no way it’s been ten years already. And if it really has been ten years, then that means that… (I can’t even type it)…that means… that means that we’re more than half way done with him being a kid and living in my home. And now I’m crying. There’s just no way time is flying by this quickly. But fine, I’ll play along. Apparently, my son is ten years old.
I decided to wake my almost-off-to-college-which-makes-me-depressed son with a special breakfast on his big day. I made miniature versions of his ten favorite breakfast foods. He LOVED it! And then my husband asked if he could have the same for his 37th birthday. And I pretended I didn’t hear him.
Every year I make my kids a cake of their choice. This year my son requested a chess cake. How fun! I thought that would be really exciting to make. It wasn’t. But more about that later.
We planned his big birthday party for the end of August, but then earlier in the month, his grandparents wanted to throw him a little party at their house, so that meant another cake (despite how much I love my apparently-ten year-old, there’s no way I was willing to make two chess cakes). I decided to surprise my son with a cake featuring his favorite things (Legos, spaghetti, ice cream, books, Despicable Me, computer games, Sprite (which I only allow him to have twice a year – poor, deprived child) and soccer. I also added two of his least favorite things (bees and homework) and crossed them out. I shaped some of the little things out of fondant and made others out of white chocolate. Needless to say, the cake took much longer than I expected (as usual), but my apparently-ten year-old loved it.
So then it was time for his big party. I just loved the idea of making a chess cake! Key words: the idea. The reality was a different story. I have a rule for myself when making cakes – everything has to be edible. I thought making all the little chess pieces would be fun, until I did the math and realized there’s 36 of them! Gulp.
I decided to make them out of cookie dough, and stupidly, stupidly, stupidly, didn’t even think to see if I could order cookie cutters online, so I cut them all out by hand. To say I hated life that day would be an understatement. Learn from me, folks. If you make edible chess pieces, buy cookie cutters. Or hire someone to make them. Or tell your kid that chess cakes have been outlawed.
Once the pieces were done, I “painted” them with melted white and dark chocolate. I actually thought they looked better before I painted them. I wish I had skipped the painting, and instead made half the cookies with cocoa powder in the batter. Oh, well. I’ll do that next time I make a chess cake. Which will be never.
Now that the cookies were finished, I figured the rest would be painless. Fast forward to me in my kitchen at 3 o’clock in the morning, drinking my fourth cup of coffee, covered in powdered sugar, cutting a million fondant squares (okay, 64 fondant squares, but I’m rounding it up a bit since that’s what it felt like). They all had to be the same exact size and thickness so they’d fit perfectly together on the board. Pain. In. My. Buttocks.
In all honesty, the cake didn’t turn out as magical as I pictured it in my head (a lot of things in life aren’t as magical and they look in my head). I didn’t even get great photos of it because I was exhausted the day of the party, and it was 100 degrees, and I couldn’t remember to take a bunch of photos, because all I could think about was taking a nap. A three day long nap. In my freezer.
My apparently-ten-year old son loved it, though. It was exactly what he wanted. And that’s really all that matters.
If you’re planning on making an all edible chess cake for someone in your life, and have questions for me, there’s only one answer to all your questions: Don’t do it.