Admit it: You thought murlocs were spineless little critters, didn't you? Take a peek inside our gallery, below, and you'll see that even this sweet little fellow boasts his share of backbone -- literally. World of WarCrafts visited with Bradley Barger (aka Monmanteau of US Stormreaver), one of the winners of this year's WoW Holiday Dessert Contest, for a taste of the inspiration behind his winning creation. What we discovered beneath this little guy's skin (a backbone of steel!) was more spine than we ever expected from a murloc.
The creation is based around a metal armature, which Bradley covered with cereal-based cake and butter cream, then finished with fondant for a smooth texture. The spines are made from colored sugar, melted and cut to shape. The pond water is fashioned from a high-temperature molten sugar mixture, poured it into a frame of fondant.
Continue past the break for an interview with Bradley on how he cooked up this sweet success.
"This year, I tried several new things that I had seen the pros on TV do," Bradley notes, "such as using an internal armature and fondant icing. This was my first time working with fondant, which is amazing for looks but unfortunately doesn't taste very good. Overall, I estimate I spent about 10 hours of work over three days. I used two boxes of rice cereal, 4 pounds of marshmallows, 6 pounds of confectioner's sugar, at least a pound of butter, and almost half a gallon of highly concentrated sugar syrup."
The final design was somewhat of a departure from his original concept. "I had wanted to make an ice skating murloc, because I thought they would need some way to get around when their ponds freeze over," Bradley reasoned. "However, the challenge of balancing almost 20 pounds of cake on skates was overwhelming, so I decided to just freeze his feet under the water. The molten sugar used to cast the ice yellowed in the cooking, making what was supposed to blue ice into an algae-stained green -- but I guess it works for a filthy, anthropomorphic fish-man."
The final twists: the warm clothes of an unwary traveler -- "he looks disappointed that human mittens won't fit his murloc claws" -- and a Dalaran Cooking Award.
Three years of award-winning cakes
Bradley has been making WoW desserts since a WoW-themed cookie contest in 2006. With no formal cooking training, he relies on techniques picked up from Food Network shows such as Ace of Cakes and Food Network Challenge.
He began his award-winning streak of WoW-themed holiday creations three years ago. "In 2006, my sister and I made a gingerbread Dark Portal together. It is mostly gingerbread, with marzipan figures and cast sugar used for the translucent swirly portal effect. In 2007, I alone made a scene of Greatfather Winter in Ironforge. I won, but it's not a very good one. I used a variety of techniques and candies in this one, but I had just moved to a new apartment and didn't have a very good tools. My favorite part is the marzipan goblin, but frosting the tree was the most difficult."
"In 2008, there was no cookie contest; I cried for weeks," he adds. "This year, my sister and I worked independently. She also submitted a winning entry, with a cake moonkin."
Bradley hasn't been playing WoW very much lately, since he just began working on a Ph.D. in anatomy and cell biology. "I've only been logging in every few weeks to chat and check mail," he mourns. "Hopefully the spring will be less busy, and I can start taking advantage of the dungeon finder." We admire your dedication, Bradley, but we rather suspect you'll somehow find a way to have your cake and eat it, too ... if you know what we mean.