Nov 27, 2009

Thomas the Tank Engine's new friends

Before this project I was not that familiar with Thomas the Tank Engine, therefore, I didn't know that Thomas didn't actually "carry" anything in his train. I think the popular kids program is actually about Thomas and his tank engine friends, or something like that (note to self - buy a TV, get cable?)  In any event, I wanted to make my friend's 3 year old son's birthday cake fun and creative but still include Thomas the Tank Engine.

The Idea: A train cake carrying cupcake animals in the train cars.

The front (thomas) part and back part of the train was made of french vanilla cake layered with chocolate buttercream icing and covered in fondant (among other yummy edible items like cookies, pretzels and licorice).  The train cars were made of white cake mix covered in buttercream icing and fondant with strawberry cream cookie wheels ... hmmm, cookie wheels!

Each train car carried two animal cupcakes and each cupcake was a different animal face (with a few duplicates) which included: a monkey, elephant, panda bear, brown bear, giraffe, lion and tiger oh my!  Inspiration for the animal faces came form one of my most favorite cupcake books ever: Hello, Cupcake! by Karen Tack & Alan Richardson.

Panda Bear and Tiger - Chocolate Brownie Cupcakes

Chocolate Brownie Cupcakes
(Recipe from Julie Hasson's book 125 Best Cupcake Recipes)

3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
Pinch Salt
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
3 eggs
2/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1. In a small bowl mix together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together granulated and brown sugars and butter until smooth.  Whisk in vanilla and almond extract.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Add flour mixture, beating until combined.  Stir in chocolate chips.

3. Scoop batter in prepared pan.  Bake in preheated oven for 28 minutes or until a tester inserted into center comes out with a few crumbs attached a little melted chocolate.  The tops of cupcakes will not spring back when touched.  Let cool in pan on rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pan and let cool completely on rack.

The Happy Birthday Boy!


  1. OH MY GOSH!!!
    THis is so cute, and so well! done i love it,
    the animals are so creative!
    I am impressed beyond belief.

  2. I'm going to attempt this for my son's 2nd birthday, which happens to be on Valentine's day. I don't make cakes, so it should be interesting! I'm going to use frosting instead of fondant because I have no idea how to use it, although I'm sure it looks better! Any tips for a beginner attempting this? Also, what did you use for the panda bear and elephant ears? Thanks so much for the inspiration! ~Amy

  3. Thanks for the kind words Amy! :)

    I used icing for the cupcakes and fondant for the cake, it can be difficult work with. Make sure to use stif buttercream icing for best results, if the icing is too creamy it can get runny! You can buy or make buttercream icing.

    For the panda, tiger and elephant ears I used melted chocolate - it's actually called melting wafers, they come in all colours. You can get them at any bake store (I went to Bulk Barn). Not sure you have one of those where you are!

    Good luck!