Freshly picked from my kitchen to yours, this "Cabbage" is made of butter cake layers filled with toffee-speckled buttercream. The trompe l'oeil exterior is molded using real cabbage leaves.I use a special oil-based food color to tint the candy. This can be found at specialty baking shops and online. Or, you could leave the candy untinted for a white cabbage. Semisweet chocolate or chocolate almond bark can also be used for a dark brown chocolate cabbage, which is cute, too!
Place the savoy cabbage leaves on a large baking sheet. Melt the white candy/chocolate in a large microwave-safe bowl in 30 second increments. Stir well in between heating, and use the residual heat from the bowl to melt the candy. This will prevent over-heating. Stir in the food colors a little at a time until a bright green color is achieved.
Pour about 1/4 cup of the candy into a cabbage leaf and use the art brush to spread the candy all the way to the edges. Crumple a piece of aluminum foil to cradle the leaf and return the leaf to the baking tray. Repeat the process with remaining leaves. Allow the leaves to stand until set Re-heat candy if needed and give the leaves a second coat. Transfer to the refrigerator while you prepare the cake. Reserve leftover candy.
Preheat the oven to 350F. Coat four 6-inch cake pans with flour-based baking spray.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until lightened in color and fluffy, about 4 minutes.
Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Mix in the vanilla extract. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture in 3 additions, alternating with the milk; begin and end with flour. Beat until the batter is smooth and thoroughly combined.
Divide batter between pans and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the cakes are golden on top and a toothpick tester comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in the pan. Invert and transfer cakes to cooling racks. Cool completely, then level the tops of the cake using a serrated knife or cake leveler.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, mix together the butter and sugar. Begin mixing on low speed until the mixture is crumbly. Increase to high and beat for 3 minutes. Add the vanilla extract and beat again for another minute until light and fluffy. Beat in the sea salt. If the buttercream is too stiff, add milk or heavy cream 1 tablespoon at a time until the mixture is of spreading consistency.
Remove 1/2 of the frosting to a bowl and fold in the toffee bits. Tint the remaining frosting green using the food color.
Peel fresh lettuce leaves away from the candy. If pieces of fresh cabbage stick into grooves, remove them with a pair of kitchen-dedicated tweezers. Set aside.
Place a cake layer on a serving plate or cake stand. Fill and stack using the toffee buttercream and other cake layers. Chill the cake for 30 minutes. Trim away the top edge of the cake using a serrated knife to create a dome shape. Cover the entire cake with the green buttercream. Reserve leftover buttercream.
While the buttercream is fresh and tacky, position three cabbage leaves around the cake, allowing the curved edges of the leaves to rest against the top dome of the cake. Refrigerate until firm.
Re-heat leftover green candy and have green frosting ready to hand.
Stack more leaves around the cake, covering any large gaps. Use a small art brush to dab dots of melted candy where the edges of the leaves meet the other leaves. Tie kitchen twine around the center of the assembled leaves to hold them in place while they set. Transfer the cake to the refrigerator to speed setting. Use dots or swirls of frosting to fil in any gaps using an offset spatula.
Before serving, remove the kitchen twine and spoon chocolate cookie crumbs ('dirt') around the edge of the cake.
To serve, disassemble one or two lettuce leaves at a time; cut the cake into servings. Break the leaves into pieces and serve alongside slices of cake.
Make sure cabbage leaves are completely dry before using.Chocolate and candy food colors are found at kitchen specialty shops and online. See blog post for resources.