The Monkey Cake, Part Two: The Decoration & Buttercream

So today is all about how to make the icing on the cake…. literally! And this is where Sonia came into her own on the cake making….without her I probably would have been in tears as my butter was too soft and I was struggling to get the consistency I needed to be able to coat the cake. So my tip for today is yes you need your butter at room temperature… but if it’s a warm day and you’ve had the oven on all day baking then I would suggest you only take it out of the fridge maybe an hour or so before you are going to be using it to keep the consistency firm. But if by chance, like me, this doesn’t happen, then don’t be scared to put your bowl in the fridge and bring the temperature of the butter down a bit… it will work eventually!

I’ve based these recipes from The Crabapple Bakery Cupcake Book and altered them to suit the quantities that we needed for our monkey.

Real Caramel Buttercream


  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 1/4 cup golden syrup
  • 100g butter
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 3-4 cups icing sugar

Place the butter, sugar, golden syrup and cream into a saucepan over a medium heat. stir until the sugar has dissolved.


and then turn up the heat and boil for at least 5 minutes. The caramel will thicken and turn smooth, coming away from the bottom of the pan.


Remove from the heat and allow to cool. This is important for the next step.

Take another 150g butter and beat until light and fluffy. Add approx 1/2 the icing sugar. Then add the cooled caramel. Continue adding more icing sugar until you have a nice firm & smooth consistency. If it’s slightly runny use some for sticking your cake to the display plate, and place the remainder into the fridge to set. If it’s still not stiff enough to spread on a cake once cooled again then add more icing sugar. This will keep in the fridge for a week or you can freeze it for later use.

Dark Chocolate Buttercream


  • 150g unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1 cup dark chocolate buds, melted
  • 3 cups icing sugar
  • 1 tsp cocoa

Place your chocolate buds over a steam bath in a metal bowl and melt. Stir only occasionally at the end. Too much stirring and the chocolate will go gritty. Remove the chocolate from the heat and allow to cool.

Beat your butter until light and fluffy. Add in 1/2 the icing sugar spoonfuls at a time and also the cocoa. At this point drizzle the chocolate in slowly until well combined. If the chocolate is too warm it will melt the butter and you may need to put it in the fridge for a while to reset. Once you’ve added all the chocolate, then add in the remaining icing sugar until firm. This will also keep in the fridge for about a week, or can be frozen and used at a later date.

Extra’s we also needed for decorating:

  • chopping board covered in foil
  • banana lollies
  • licorice strips
  • toothpicks for construction

Happy Baking… stay tuned for tomorrow’s post to finally see how we constructed this cake and turned it into a masterpiece!


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