3cupsall-purpose floursifted (I like White Lily soft winter wheat flour)
1teaspoonfine grain sea salt
1cupunsweet Dutch-process cocoa powdersifted
1 1/2cupswhole milk
Chocolate chip ganache icing
24ouncessemisweet chocolate chips
1 1/2cupsheavy cream
1cupmini semisweet chocolate chips
1package14.4 ounce Oreo sandwich cookies
1poundwhite almond bark or candy coating wafers
Unsweet cocoa powder
Make the cake: Preheat the oven to 350F. Spray an 18x12x2-inch sheet pan with flour based baking spray, or grease with butter and flour; tap out excess flour.
Cream the butter and sugar on medium-high speed in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until light and fluffy (about 5 minutes). On medium speed, add the eggs, 2 at a time, then the vanilla. Mix well.
Sift together the flour, salt, baking soda and cocoa powder. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the flour and whole milk, alternating between the two and beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Mix just until smooth. NOTE: Try to avoid over-mixing here; I ended up with a scant few tunnels in my cake from mixing too much. Scrape down the bowl and mix any pockets of flour or butter you find by hand using a rubber spatula. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick tester comes out clean. Cool in the pan to room temperature.
Make the icing: Place 24 oz. semisweet chocolate chips and heavy cream in a large microwave-safe bowl. Heat at 100% power at 30 second intervals until the mixture can be whisked smooth (you can also do this on the stove top in a saucepan over medium-low heat). Whisk in the butter; mix until completely melted. Let the mixture stand until cool but still pourable (usually about 15 to 20 minutes). Stir in the mini chips. Pour the icing over the cake and spread evenly with an off-set spatula.
Make the Dino toppings: Place the Oreo sandwich cookies in the bowl of a food processor and grind until fine; set aside.
Melt the white almond bark in a medium heat-proof bowl at 100% power in the microwave at 30 second increments (or, in a saucepan on the stovetop over medium-low heat). When the mixture is smooth, fill the dinosaur bone molds about 3/4 full. Place in the freezer until set. Remove the pieces from the molds while they are still frozen (they will pop out easier!). Load a dry paint brush with unsweet cocoa powder and brush the candy bones until they appear aged and weathered.
Sprinkle half of the pulverized Oreo “dirt” over the surface of the cake and arrange the dinosaur bones on top. Use additional “dirt” to fill in around the bones. Decorate cake slices with choco-rocks, if using.
Store the cake covered in plastic wrap at room temperature.
More fun ideas!
Allow kids (of all ages!) to decorate cake slices with choco-rocks.
Cover the dinosaur bones on the cake completely with the “Oreo” dirt, and provide dry pastry brushes for “excavation” of the dinosaur bones.
Buy an extra pound of candy coating and make extra bones; tag them individually with specimen labels “T-Rex Tibia” or “Velociraptor Femur”.