This cake was ordered at the same time as the pirate ship cake. The ship was for a three year old boy, and this cake was for his eight year old sister (I had a moment of panic just when I had finished the ship– "The boy's not the eight year old–?" 'cause Teddy Grahams, um, not so much there, but he was three, so all was well). When I delivered the pirate cake the girl told me no jello and no gummy stuff but lots of chocolate, please.
Sorry, Pyrit, this isn't rum cake either:
I made eight "bricks" to form the chest, a double batch of batter. I put a piece of cardboard and four bamboo skewers in the middle of the cake to hold up the top two layers, and used "cake spackle," an idea from Toba Garrett, to smooth the sides. I've only tried it with chocolate cake, but she recommends it for most cakes, using cake scraps and buttercream with maybe with some nuts or a dollop of filling added for a little extra flavor.
Then I brushed on chocolate ganache (8 oz. dark chocolate, 5 oz. milk chocolate, 2 sticks of butter melted together) to look like wood grain:
Proper ganache is made with cream and stays soft, but this coating gets pretty firm when it's cool.
The decoration on the chest is just regular buttercream. The "landscape" is a thin layer of buttercream (flavored with cinnamon to tone down the whiteness a bit) covered with cookie-crumb "sand."