This creepy Spider Cake will be the center of attention at your Halloween party! The giant chocolate cake ball is covered in decadent chocolate ganache and is decorated with chocolate legs and candy eyes.
A cake ball is simply cake crumbled up, mixed with frosting, rolled into a ball, dipped in candy coating or chocolate, and decorated.
My version of this sweet treat is giant, hairy, and adorable, well O.K., as adorable as any super-sized spider can be.
Last year for our Carnival of the Creepy Crawlers party, our kitchen and living room were completely infested with large hairy spiders, many were fuzzy, stuffed, and cute, but others were disgusting, realistic, and ugly.
I decided to supersize a decorated cake ball and turn it into a giant spider that would be served up in its own web.
To make this monstrous dessert, I mixed crumbled cake with frosting and molded it into a large dome before covering it in dark chocolate ganache.
So, let's make a spider cake.
chocolate cake - You can bake a 9x13-inch cake, two 8-inch round cakes, or if you prefer, you can even bake the cake in a domed cake pan and skip the process of making a cake ball.
frosting - If you do choose to follow my instructions to make a giant cake ball, then you'll need some frosting. I used vanilla but chocolate would work fine too.
chocolate ganache - Made with heavy whipping cream and dark chocolate. You'll cover the cake with this creamy frosting.
chocolate (spider legs) - You can make your spider's legs using melted and tempered dark chocolate or melted dark cocoa candy melts. You'll then use chocolate ganache to cover the chocolate legs to make them look furry. Check out my chocolate-making tips page for melting and tempering instructions.
modeling chocolate (eyes) - Use white and dark chocolate or black modeling chocolate to make the eyes. Or you could use slices of marshmallow, vanilla cookies, vanilla frosting, or white fondant for the whites of the eyes and large chocolate chips, Hershey's Kisses, M&M's, or even candy melts to make the pupils.
extra-large mixing bowl
1 ½ quart bowl (holds 6 cups)
6" cake round (or cut a 6" circle of cardboard and cover with tin foil)
food processor OR a microwave-safe bowl
offset spatula or spoon
disposable pastry bag or heavy-duty zip-top bag
Step 1 - Make cake ball mixture.
- Crumble cake into an extra-large mixing bowl.
- Add the frosting and stir until very well mixed. I like to use my hands and I usually wear gloves.
Step 2 - Form the spider's body.
- Line a 1 ½ quart bowl with plastic wrap.
- Press the cake mixture into the bowl and smooth out the top.
- Fold plastic wrap over.
- Refrigerate for at least one hour.
Step 3 - Set the giant cake ball on a cake board.
- Remove the cake from the refrigerator and unwrap the folded plastic wrap.
- Tug on the plastic wrap, lifting the cake from the bowl.
- Set the cake upside down on the counter and remove the plastic wrap.
- Set the cake board on the flat side of the cake.
- Turn the cake over and set the cake on a glass or cup that is set over a piece of parchment paper or wax paper.
- Make chocolate ganache: (if you prefer, you can use a tub of chocolate frosting).
Alternatively, you could bake a chocolate cake in a large domed cake pan.
Step 4 - Make chocolate ganache.
- Place chopped chocolate in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until the chocolate is fine crumbs.
- Heat heavy whipping cream in a small saucepan over medium heat.
- Stir often until it just comes to a boil.
- Pour the hot cream over the chocolate, put the lid on the food processor bowl, and let sit for 2-3 minutes.
- Pulse for 3 seconds. Remove the lid and scrape down the sides and bottom of the food processor bowl.
- Return the lid and pulse for 5 more seconds or until the mixture, which is called ganache, is smooth.
- Don't over-mix your ganache or it will turn grainy as it sets up.
Note: A food processor makes easy work of creating a chocolate ganache.
If you don't have one, finely chop your chocolate and put it in a microwave-safe mixing bowl. Boil cream as above and pour over chocolate and let sit for 2-3 minutes.
Use a whisk to create an emulsion. Begin by stirring just in the center of the bowl, then slowly bring the whisk out to the edge of the bowl. Stir just until combined and the ganache is smooth. If you have chunks of chocolate remaining, place the entire bowl in the microwave and heat it on high for 10 seconds. Stir until melted.
Trouble Shooting Ganache: If your ganache gets too hot the cocoa butter from the chocolate will separate and rise to the surface. The cocoa butter will harden as the ganache cools and you will have chunks of cocoa butter throughout. This can happen if you add cream that is too hot or get the ganache too hot in the microwave. If your ganache does separate or looks oily, add a little cold whipping cream (a tablespoon at a time) and mix until smooth.
Step 5 - Pour ganache over cake.
- Allow the ganache to sit at room temperature for 10-15 minutes until it thickens slightly.
- Then, pour it over the cake so that the cake is completely covered with ganache.
- The excess ganache will fall off landing on your parchment paper.
- Reserve the excess ganache for the spider's legs.
Step 6 - Make chocolate ganache look furry.
- Allow the ganache to set and thicken a bit.
- Then, use an offset spatula or spoon to make the spider's hair.
- Press the spatula or spoon onto the ganache and slowly lift it off allowing the ganache to pull up into spikes. If the ganache falls back down and smooths out, then the ganache isn't thick enough.
- Wait a few more minutes and try again.
- The sides of the cake will thicken faster than the top, so you might want to start on the sides.
- You could also simply wait until the chocolate ganache thickens then spread it over the cake and make it look furry.
Step 7 - Make the spider look really furry.
- Continue making spikes all over the cake.
- While the ganache is still wet, make the eyes.
Step 8 - Make modeling chocolate eyes.
- Roll out some white modeling chocolate and dark modeling chocolate and cut them in circles using a 1 ½" and a ¾" round cookie cutter to make the eyes.
- Attach the eyes to the spider by pressing them into the wet ganache.
I chose to add eyes that made my spider look cute, but they can easily be changed if you prefer a more ominous-looking spider.
Step 9 - Make chocolate spider legs.
- To make chocolate legs: Draw a 6 ¾" x 4 ½" rectangle onto a piece of paper.
- Slide the drawing under a piece of parchment paper.
- Pour melted and tempered chocolate or melted candy melts into a disposable pastry bag or a heavy-duty zip-top bag.
- Cut off the tip and begin to pipe the legs one at a time.
- The legs will be covered with ganache so they don't need to be perfectly straight
- After you finish piping a leg, carefully move the drawing of the leg over and pipe on more chocolate creating another leg.
- Pipe four legs then refrigerate if using tempered chocolate or freeze if using candy melts.
- Don't allow them to chill for too long, or the legs will begin to curl upwards.
- Repeat making four more legs.
Step 10 - Make the spider legs look furry.
- Frost the legs with the reserved chocolate ganache covering the entire leg.
- Use a fork to make the chocolate legs look hairy by using the same technique you used for the body.
- Once you've made the entire leg hairy-looking, set it back on the parchment paper and allow it to dry completely.
Step 11 - Attach the chocolate legs to the spider cake.
- Set your cake on a serving platter or if you prefer you can place it on a spider web.
- Attach the legs to the spider's body by pressing the short side of the leg into the cake.
Step 12- Set spider cake on a spider web and serve.
If you want to make this cake prior to your party, store the finished spider body in an airtight container.
The day of the party attach the chocolate legs and set them on a serving platter or spider web. Serve!
This recipe was originally published on September 13, 2011.
A giant cake ball spider decorated with chocolate ganache and furry chocolate legs.
- 1 baked chocolate cake, edges cut off and discarded
- ¾ cup tub vanilla frosting
- ½ cup heavy whipping cream
- 8 ounces good-quality semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped
- 8 ounces dark cocoa candy melts, melted
Crumble the cake and mix with frosting until it forms a ball and press it into a plastic wrap-lined 1 ½ quart bowl, cover, and refrigerate for an hour.
Meanwhile, heat the heavy whipping cream over medium heat until it just begins to bubble.
Pour it over the chocolate and let it rest for 3-4 minutes, then stir until creamy and smooth.
Set the ganache aside for about an hour until it thickens.
Remove the cake from the bowl and set the flat side on a cake board or large serving platter.
Spread ganache over the giant cake ball.
Press a spatula on the ganache then lift it off making spikes of fur all over the cake.
Cut out modeling chocolate eyes at press onto cake.
Pipe a thick layer of melted candy melts into eight angled 6 ¾" by 4 ½" spider legs. Chill for 10 minutes.
Frost the legs with ganache and make them look furry.
Let them dry then insert them into the cake.
Store at room temperature for up to 3 days.