My husband had a big birthday last month, and I wanted to make a cake that captured his personality to celebrate. One of his biggest passions is chips – not the potato or chocolate kind (though he does like those too) – I’m talking about the computer kind. The ones that look like this:
I like baking things that tell some sort of story, so it was obvious to me that I’d make a cake that looked like a giant computer chip for this occasion. Of course, it would have some chocolate chips inside too.
If you’re like me and have a short attention span these days, watch a 1 minute version of this story on TikTok:
Preparing the cake & frosting
To make this I used this funfetti cake recipe. The original recipe is for a 3 layer 6-inch round cake, but I wanted this cake to be square. To my excitement, the amount this recipe made worked perfectly for 2 8×8-inch pans (my favorite pans are Fat Daddios). I made the same amount of buttercream the recipe called for, and split the frosting batch into three to make all the colors for this cake using Americolor gel food coloring:
- Forest Green for in between the two layers and the background color of the chip
- Gold for the lines on the chip (the technical term for this is “traces” if you’re into computer chip terminology)
- Black for the squares on the chip, these are the processors
Assembling the chip cake
Next it was time to assemble! The funfetti recipe I used bakes pretty flat so I didn’t need to level the cake layers like I usually do. I placed the first layer face up on a 10-inch cake board and spread on a generous layer of the green frosting. Then I sprinkled mini chocolate chips and rainbow sprinkles all over this layer.
When I was planning for this cake, I considered crushing up some potato chips and sprinkling them over this layer as well. It sounds gross, but I’ve had a few delicious cookies that use potato chips to add a salty element to the flavor. I thought this would be one of those (and then the cake would have two kinds of chips!), but I did a test and it didn’t really come out as expected. The cake layers just made the chips soggy. Oh well, at least I tried.
I didn’t think you’d be able to taste the mini chocolate chips when eating the cake, but I was wrong. They added the most delicious little bite and texture to each piece. I placed the second 8×8 layer face down on top of the frosting and chocolate chip filling. I put it face down because the bottom of the cake was slightly flatter than the top, making for a more even looking cake.
Then I spread a generous amount of green frosting all over the top and sides of the cake, smoothing it with a bench scraper and offset spatula. The key to smooth frosting is heating your bench scraper or spatula under hot water, completely drying it (water is the enemy of frosting) and then spreading it over your frosting. The heat will make it easier to spread the frosting and make it nice and smooth. You’ll likely need a few passes to get it to your desired smoothness, and sadly this requires a lot of paper towels to dry your smoothing implement each time you heat it.
Piping the chip design
This part required a lot of patience. People who know me well would never use the word patient to describe me, but somehow I’m patient with baking and cake decorating which probably means it’s something I should keep doing. I chose a picture of a chip that I liked to use as inspiration for this cake decoration and had it open on my phone as I decorated. I used a scribe (a metal toothpick tool used for baking) to lightly etch the design into the cake piece by piece, starting with the black squares. A key to doing intricate designs like this is to freeze the cake for a few minutes many times throughout your decorating process. Freezing the cake will make the frosting firm, so that you can put your finger on it lightly without any frosting coming off. This also means that if you make a piping mistake you can carefully remove the piece you don’t like and try again.
To make the black squares, I piped the outline using a Wilton #2 tip, then placed a dollop of black frosting in the middle and smoothed it with a small offset spatula. To make the gold lines, I etched with a toothpick first, and then piped on the gold frosting with a Wilton #2 tip. Here are some of my best tips (lol get it?) for making detailed frosting designs:
- Fill your piping bags about 1/2 to 2/3 full, being careful not to overfill them. This will make them easier to work with
- Use a coupler with your piping bags, so that you can change out the tip without having to put your frosting in a new bag
- Let your frosting come fully to room temperature before piping. If it gets too warm and starts to feel runny, pop it back in the fridge for a few minutes
- Every now and then you’ll notice air bubbles in your piping bag, which makes it really hard to pipe detailed designs. If this happens, remove your piping tip, clean it out, re-attach it and try again
Piping is a lot of trial and error, but you’ll get the hang of it with practice. Even though I distilled this whole process into a 1 minute video, the assembly and decoration alone (not including baking time!) probably took ~3-4 hours.
I didn’t want to plan a surprise party because we’re still in a pandemic, and those are a lot of effort. We ended up having ~10 of our vaccinated friends and family over and it was perfect! I made it into a kind of hybrid surprise party where my husband knew when and where the party was happening and how many people, but I didn’t tell him who was coming. Every time the doorbell rang, it was a fun mini surprise.
And most importantly, the cake was a hit!
I’ve been posting a lot of my baking adventures on TikTok recently. Follow me there if you’d like to see more!