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‘Squid Game’ Pink Soldier Mini Cakes (No Fondant)

by Lily
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Soft red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting covered with a combination of coloured buttercream and buttercream mixed with Oreo cookie crumbs make up these “Squid Game” pink soldier mini cakes.

Have you seen Netflix’s hit show “Squid Game”, yet? If you have not, there are no spoilers here, don’t worry! The only thing I will mention (that is related to today’s post) is that on the show, there are soldiers who are dressed in a red outfit adorned with a black mesh mask and a symbol on it. These symbols show their rankings.  Square-wearing soldiers are the bosses within the group, underneath them are the triangle soldiers and the circle-wearing soldiers are the lowest ranking.

still image from Netflix's hit show Squid Game

Still image taken from Netflix’s hit show – Squid Game (S1:E1 | 38:51) Red Light, Green Light)

Want to stand out at your upcoming Halloween party? Serve these Squid Game mini soldier cakes to your family and friends. They will be surprised at how tasty AND good these look! Especially when they are decorated with pure buttercream, not fondant!

*Good To Know*

  • Is buttercream frosting hard to make? 
    There are variations of buttercream frosting you can make, some are more complicated than others such as swiss meringue buttercream. Worry not! The buttercream for these mini cakes is simple and straightforward but one thing you must do is to leave your dairy ingredients out a few hours before you start in order to work with room temperature ingredients. This will help create a softer buttercream frosting.
  • What food colour is best?
    Over time, I have used different food colours such as liquid and gel that ranged from inexpensive to costly. It is true what they say, you get what you pay for. My personal preference is to use these liquid drops by Wilton®. The colours are concentrated, have a built-in dropper for accurate measuring and will not alter my buttercream frosting consistency.
  • How do I serve these cakes?
    The buttercream on refrigerated cakes will be firm. Set your cakes out at room temperature at least 15 minutes before serving in order to give them a chance to soften.
  • Can I bake cakes the night before?
    You definitely can! Once cakes have cooled, individually wrap each cake with plastic wrap to keep the cake moist. For an extra seal, place wrapped cakes into a large plastic zip-top bag, in a single layer. Leave them out at room temperature until you are ready to decorate them.

Ingredients & Tools you will need

Before you get started, make sure to leave dairy ingredients out a couple of hours ahead so they can reach room temperature. In case you forget to do so, you can read my post here on how to quickly bring ingredients to room temperature.

For the red velvet cake

  • cake flour
  • unsweetened cocoa powder
  • baking soda
  • salt
  • unsalted butter (room temperature)
  • white sugar
  • egg (room temperature)
  • vegetable oil
  • red liquid food colour
  • vanilla extract
  • cream of tartar (or you can use lemon juice or vinegar)
  • buttermilk (room temperature)

For the cream cheese frosting

  •  cream cheese (room temperature)
  • confectioners’ sugar
  • vanilla extract
  • salt

For the buttercream

  • unsalted butter (room temperature)
  • confectioners’ sugar
  • milk
  • vanilla extract

For the decoration

Tools

How to make red velvet mini skull cakes

Each of these mini skull cakes bakes to 4 x 5-inch in size. They are the perfect shape for you to fill with frosting and decorate with buttercream.  Grease your pan before you get started.

Sift together dry ingredients into a large bowl and set it aside. In a stand mixer, cream together butter and sugar on medium speed for 7 minutes. Add the egg and continue to mix until it is doubled in volume.  Then add vegetable oil, red food colour, vanilla extract, cream of tartar and mix until everything is combined and evenly coloured.

Alternate between adding the flour and buttermilk until everything is just combined. Do not overmix the batter as that can cause a dense cake. Fill each skull head with 1/2 cup of the batter. Do not overfill as the cake will rise during baking.  Bake cakes for 20 minutes, then cool cakes on a wire rack completely before you start to fill and decorate them.

While the cakes are baking, make the cream cheese frosting by mixing softened cream cheese, confectioners’ sugar, vanilla extract, and salt. Cover and refrigerate it until you are ready to fill your cakes.

How to make buttercream frosting

The key to good buttercream frosting is to work with room-temperature ingredients. Cream together the butter, sugar, vanilla extract and salt on low speed until combined. Add a little milk at a time while you continue to mix the buttercream on low speed. Once all of the milk is incorporated into the buttercream, increase your speed to high and mix until the buttercream is soft. When done, divide the buttercream as follows:

  • 1/4 cup buttercream into a small bowl (for the symbol)
  • 1 ½ cups into a medium bowl (for the mask)
  • Leave remaining buttercream in the mixer bowl

How to colour buttercream frosting

If you are using the Wilton food colour set, add 8 drops Crimson* + 6 drops red* food colour to the remaining buttercream in the bowl and mix until it is well blended. Scoop this buttercream into a bowl and set it aside.

*Important – Coloured Buttercream will darken after it is refrigerated, so even though it may look like a light red colour after you mix in the food colour, do not add more than the recommended amount. 

Add 1 cup Oreo baking crumbs and 1 Tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder to the 1 ½ cups buttercream you have set aside and mix until everything is combined evenly. 

  1. Fill the Oreo buttercream into a piping bag fitted with a large 1/2-inch round piping tip. If you do not have a piping bag and piping tips, you can use a large plastic zip-top bag, fill it with the Oreo buttercream and snip one of the corners to create a 1/2-inch opening. This will be used to pipe on the mask.
  2. Fill the red buttercream into a piping bag fitted with a slanted piping tip or use a zip-top plastic bag and snip the corner at an angle. This will be used to pipe on the red hood.
  3. Fill the 1/4 cup plain buttercream into a piping bag fitted with a 1/4-inch small round piping tip. This will be used to pipe on the symbol.
  4. For the decoration, in a heatproof bowl, microwave together 1/4 cup chocolate chips with 1 Tablespoon milk, 30 seconds at a time until melted. Add to a disposable piping bag or medium plastic zip-top bag and snip a small opening. This will be used to pipe on the lines on the mask and hood.

How to fill and decorate the mini cakes

  1. Cut 9 pieces of 7 x 7-inch parchment paper.
  2. Trim excess cake around the skull head if needed. Trim the backside of the skull head to create a levelled surface. Finally, cut the mini cake in half. Place cake halves on a piece of parchment paper.
  3. Add cream cheese frosting into a piping bag with a large opening and pipe a straight line on the bottom half of the cake. Use a 9-inch angled spatula to spread the filling and leave a 1 cm gap all around the cake. Place the top half of the cake on top of the cream cheese filling.
  1. Use the red buttercream piping bag and pipe buttercream all around the cake. Then use a clean angled spatula to spread the buttercream thinly all over the cake. This is called a crumb coat that ‘glues’ crumbs down and helps seal the filling so that it will not leak while you work. Place the cake into the refrigerator for 10 minutes so that the buttercream can firm up. Repeat this step for the remaining mini cakes.
  1. To decorate, pipe red buttercream 2x around the cake (use the parchment paper to help rotate the cake while you pipe). Then use a 9-inch angled spatula to evenly spread the buttercream only around the side of the cake. Smooth the edges around the top sides of the cake (see photo for reference).
  1. Use the Oreo buttercream piping bag to pipe on the mask by covering the skull face and leaving a 1 cm gap around the edges. Then use a clean 9-inch angled spatula to smooth out the buttercream.
  2. With a clean fork, lightly puncture even grid marks into the mask to create a ‘mesh’ look. Clean your fork every so often with a clean paper towel while you puncture.
  3. Pipe a clean line around the edges of the cake with the red buttercream and pipe a ‘neck’ covering where the chin is. Carefully seal the bottom edges with a clean spatula to blend the buttercream and complete the hood look. Smooth out any uneven surfaces with your spatula.
  1. With the melted chocolate piping bag, pipe a horizontal line across the middle of the mask and 2 vertical lines from the chin to the horizontal line in the middle. 
  2. Lastly, use the plain buttercream piping bag and pipe on a symbol, then refrigerate the cake. You can create a variation on each mask. For example, 1 mask has a square symbol. The next one has a circle and another has a triangle. Repeat steps #2 – #10 until all the cakes have been filled and decorated. Refrigerate cakes uncovered.
  1. To ensure that cakes have a very smooth buttercream finish, you can moisten a clean paper towel with warm water. Rub the paper towel all-around a cooled cake (you need to do this while the buttercream is still firm) to smooth out any wrinkles or lines you might have in the buttercream. 
  2. Use the melted chocolate bag and pipe a vertical line where the chin is down to the ‘neck’. Then draw small lines across the vertical line to create a ‘zipper’ look for the hood. Place the cake back into the refrigerator.
  1. Buttercream firms up in the refrigerator. When you are ready to serve them, peel off the parchment paper, place cakes out on a platter for 15 minutes at room temperature so that they can soften. Serve and enjoy!
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‘Squid Game’ Pink Soldier Mini Cakes (No Fondant)

Soft red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting covered with a combination of coloured buttercream and buttercream mixed with Oreo cookie crumbs make up these "Squid Game" Pink Soldier mini cakes.
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Prep Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Refrigeration Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 5 minutes
Yields: 9 mini cakes

Ingredients

For the red velvet cake

  • cups (281 g) cake flour, sifted
  • 2 Tablespoons (10 g) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ½ teaspoon (2 g) baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon (2 g) salt
  • ¼ cup (57 g) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • ¾ cup (150 g) white sugar
  • 1 large (50 ml) egg, room temperature
  • ¼ cup (59 ml) vegetable oil
  • 8 drops crimson or red liquid food colour
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon (2 g) cream of tartar, or 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice or white vinegar
  • 1 cup (237 ml) buttermilk, room temperature

For the cream cheese frosting

  • 8 ounce (227 g) 32% M.F. cream cheese (1 brick), room temperature
  • 2 cups (240 g) confectioners' sugar
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon (2 g) salt

For the buttercream frosting

  • 4 sticks (452 g) unsalted butter (2 cups), room temperature
  • 4 cups (480 g) confectioners' sugar
  • 3 teaspoons (15 ml) vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup (118 ml) + 2 Tbsp. | whole milk (3.25% homogenized), room temperature
  • 8 drops crimson food colour
  • 6 drops red food colour
  • 1 cup (160 g) Oreo baking crumbs
  • 1 Tablespoon (5 g) unsweetened cocoa powder

For the decoration

  • ¼ cup (45 g) pure semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 Tablespoon (15 ml) milk

INSTRUCTIONS 

To make red velvet cake

  • Preheat oven to 325°F (163°C). Make sure oven rack is set to the middle.
  • Place a mesh strainer over a large mixing bowl. Add cake flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Sift dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl to remove lumps. Use a whisk to sift flour if needed. Set dry ingredients aside.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, or in a large bowl using an electric mixer, cream together butter and sugar at medium speed until combined. Add the egg and continue to mix until doubled in volume (7 minutes). Add in and mix together on medium speed, vegetable oil, food colour, vanilla extract, and cream of tartar until everything is evenly combined. Scrape down the side of the bowl in between mixing.
  • Add a third amount of dry ingredients to the creamed butter and mix until just combined. Then add a third cup of buttermilk and mix until just combined. Alternate adding the flour and the buttermilk and mix in between until just combined. Do not over mix batter since that will result in a denser cake.
  • Grease skull cake pan by brushing it with butter or shortening and dusting it with flour to coat. You can also use a baking spray that contains flour (do not use regular cooking spray). Fill each skull head with 1/2 cup of batter. Tap pan on counter a few times to remove air bubbles. Bake cakes for 20 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool cakes on a wire rack. Repeat this step for the remaining batter. Cakes need to cool completely for 1 hour or longer before they can be filled and decorated.

To make the cream cheese frosting

  • In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix together on low speed the cream cheese, confectioners' sugar, vanilla extract and salt until combined. Then increase speed to medium until frosting is smooth. Set aside in a medium bowl. Cover and refrigerate it until you are ready to fill the cakes.

To make the buttercream frosting

  • In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together unsalted butter, confectioners' sugar, vanilla extract and salt on low speed until combined. Scrape the side of the bowl down in between mixing. Add a 1/4 cup of milk at a time while you continue to mix the buttercream on low speed. When the milk is fully incorporated, increase speed to high (you can also switch to a whisk attachment, then increase speed) and mix until buttercream is smooth and doubled.
  • Divide:
    – 1/4 cup buttercream into a small bowl
    – 1½ cup buttercream into a medium bowl
    – Leave remaining buttercream in the mixer bowl
  • If you are using the Wilton food colour set, add 8 drops Crimson + 6 drops Red food colour to remaining buttercream in the mixer bowl. Mix it on medium speed until well combined. Fill red buttercream into a piping bag fitted with a 1/2-inch slanted piping tip or use a large zip-top plastic bag and snip the corner at an angle. This will be used to pipe on the red hood.
  • Add 1 cup Oreo baking crumbs and 1 Tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder into the bowl with 1 ½ cup buttercream. Mix together until well combined. Fill the Oreo buttercream into a piping bag fitted with a large 1/2-inch round piping tip or use a large zip-top plastic bag and cut the corner to create a 1/2-inch opening. This will be used to pipe on the mask.
  • Fill the 1/4 cup buttercream into a piping bag fitted with a 1/4-inch small round piping tip or use a medium zip-top plastic bag and snip the corner with a small opening. This will be used to pipe on the symbol.

For the decoration

  • In a heatproof bowl, microwave together chocolate chips with milk, 30 seconds at a time until melted. Add to a disposable piping bag or medium plastic zip-top bag and snip a small opening. This will be used to pipe on the lines on the mask and hood.

To fill and decorate the masked soldier cakes

  • Cut 9 pieces of 7 x 7-inch parchment paper.
  • Trim excess cake around the skull head if needed. Trim the back side of the skull head to create a levelled surface. Finally, cut the cake in half from top to bottom. Place cake halves on a piece of parchment paper.
  • Add cream cheese frosting into a piping bag with a large opening and pipe a straight line on the bottom half of the cake. Use a 9-inch angled spatula to spread the filling and leave a 1 cm gap all around the cake. Place the top half of the cake on top of the cream cheese filling.
  • Use the red buttercream piping bag and pipe buttercream 1x around the cake. Then use a clean angled spatula to spread the buttercream thinly all over the cake. This is called a crumb coat that 'glues' crumbs down and helps seal the filling so that it will not leak while you work. Place the cake into the refrigerator for 10 minutes so that the buttercream can firm up. Repeat this step for the remaining mini cakes.
  • To decorate, pipe red buttercream 2x around the skull cake (use the parchment paper to help rotate the cake while you pipe). Then use a 9-inch angled spatula to evenly spread the buttercream only around the side of the cake. Smooth the edges around the top sides of the cake.
  • Use the Oreo buttercream piping bag to pipe on the mask by covering the skull face and leaving a 1 cm gap around the edges. Then use a clean 9-inch angled spatula to smooth out the buttercream.
  • With a clean fork, lightly puncture even grid marks into the mask to create a 'mesh' look. Clean your fork every so often with a clean paper towel while you puncture.
  • Pipe a clean line of red buttercream around the edges of the cake and pipe a 'neck' covering where the chin is. Carefully seal the bottom edges with a clean spatula to blend the buttercream and complete the hood look. Smooth out any uneven surfaces with your spatula. 
  • With the melted chocolate piping bag, pipe a horizontal line across the middle of the mask and 2 vertical lines from the chin to the horizontal line in the middle.
  • Lastly, use the plain buttercream piping bag and pipe on a symbol, then refrigerate the cake. You can create a variation on each mask. For example, 1 mask has a square symbol. The next one has a circle and another has a triangle. Repeat steps #2 – #10 until all the cakes have been filled and decorated. Refrigerate cakes uncovered for 30 minutes for the buttercream to firm up.
  • To ensure that cakes have a very smooth buttercream finish, you can moisten a clean paper towel with warm water. Rub the paper towel all around a cooled cake (you need to do this while the buttercream is still firm) to smooth out any wrinkles or lines you might have in the buttercream.
  • Use the melted chocolate bag and pipe a vertical line where the chin is down to the 'neck'. Then draw small lines across the vertical line to create a 'zipper' look for the hood. Place the cake back into the refrigerator.
  • Buttercream firms up in the refrigerator. When you are ready to serve them, peel off the parchment paper, place cakes out on a platter for 15 minutes at room temperature so that they can soften. Serve and enjoy!
Category: Dessert
Cuisine: American, Canadian
Keyword: buttercream frosting, cake, cream cheese frosting, mini cakes, squid game

Tips

Is buttercream frosting hard to make? 
There are variations of buttercream frosting you can make, some are more complicated than others such as swiss meringue buttercream. Worry not! The buttercream for these mini cakes is simple and straightforward but one thing you must do is to leave your dairy ingredients out a few hours before you start in order to work with room temperature ingredients. This will help create a softer buttercream frosting.
What food colour is best?
Over time, I have used different food colours such as liquid and gel that ranged from inexpensive to costly. It is true what they say, you get what you pay for. My personal preference is to use these liquid drops by Wilton®. The colours are concentrated, have a built-in dropper for accurate measuring and will not alter my buttercream frosting consistency.
How do I serve these cakes?
The buttercream on refrigerated cakes will be firm. Set your cakes out at room temperature at least 15 minutes before serving in order to give them a chance to soften.
Can I bake cakes the night before?
You definitely can! Once cakes have cooled, individually wrap each cake with plastic wrap to keep the cake moist. For an extra seal, place wrapped cakes into a large plastic zip-top bag, in a single layer. Leave them out at room temperature until you are ready to decorate them.
Nutrition Facts
'Squid Game' Pink Soldier Mini Cakes (No Fondant)
Amount Per Serving (1 mini cake)
Calories 1186 Calories from Fat 585
% Daily Value*
Fat 65g100%
Saturated Fat 38g238%
Trans Fat 4g
Polyunsaturated Fat 3g
Monounsaturated Fat 17g
Cholesterol 175mg58%
Sodium 524mg23%
Potassium 271mg8%
Carbohydrates 144g48%
Fiber 2g8%
Sugar 108g120%
Protein 10g20%
Vitamin A 1864IU37%
Calcium 108mg11%
Iron 2mg11%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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