harry potter pumpkin adoration and a brain cake

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 comes out in two short weeks, and I plan on being there, Harry Potter hat in hand (or on head) and grin on face. Perhaps with sickening popcorn on lap (or in mouth) as well. To commemorate this thrilling, twice-in-a-lifetime event [Part 2 will be released July 15th of next year], I chose to carve my Hallow-een pumpkin as an homage to the man, the myth, the legend. Harry Potter. But first, I had to find my pumpkin.

Treworgy Family Orchards – unfortunate name, nice place – is located in Levant, a few miles outside of Bangor. While my current location means that I spend my days nostalgically dreaming of Pine Tree Apple Orchard, the apple haven of my childhood, this place came in at an alright second. While Treworgy lacked the characteristic cider/doughnuts/spices smell of Pine Tree’s retail barn, they had all their other bases covered.  Their pick-your-own orchard featured* McIntosh apples, as well as my personal favorites: Cortlands! Over 30 varieties of pumpkins, squash and gourds were available, including some specialties. For those who like their apple orchard excitement a bit livelier, there was a petting zoo featuring Oberhalsi, Alpine and Nigerian Dwarf goats.

harry potter, in the rotting flesh

As if things couldn’t get any crazier, there were also horse-drawn farm tours (hayrides), and a massive corn maze that was entitled “Rascally Rabbit.” Created from 60,000 corn plants, this attraction nearly had me hooked, but for the $6 admittance fee. True, the cost included an ice cream cone, post-mazing. Still, I had a pumpkin to find.

I considered pumpkins of all shapes and sizes. I was nearly set on carving from a Blue Hubbard, but at the last minute decided to get a small green sweetheart that had some speckles and fluted ridges. On to the sculpting it was, set for that evening at a carving party. I’d been trying to decide what to bring to the party for several weeks’ time, the indecision resulting from a need to one-up the food I’d brought to last year’s shindig of the same purpose. Last year it was Ladies’ Fingers, cookies shaped to look like fingers with red-colored almonds pressed in as fingernails. These were surprisingly enjoyed, so this year I wanted to create something a bit spookier, but equally tasty. After a friend suggested a BRAIN CAKE, I was sold.

How to create such a monstrosity? All it takes is a little guts. I made a red velvet cake for my brain innards, as it seemed fitting. The squeamy brain-topping layer is made out of a marshmallow fondant, which is what all of the brain cake expertise out there on the internet recommends. It’s a simple process that results in a fondant that is pliable and of mediocre taste. Blood spatters are easily added by way of corn syrup and food coloring. This cake features something special, that I didn’t find on those other internet brain cakes. While I saw brains with eyes, lips, and eyebrows, I found no severed spinal cords. This one is about as sweet as it gets, but I can’t take any of the credit for it [thanks C].

The cake wasn’t as hot a seller as the Ladies’ Fingers, but that’s okay. It was slightly creepier.

Red Velvet Chocolate Cake {adapted from Martha Stewart}

  • I added 1 tsp of Grand Marnier in addition to the vanilla

Cream Cheese Frosting {adapted from Rachel Cheatwood’s recipe, courtesy of Martha Stewart}

  • I did not include the chopped pecans, as this would have given my brain an uncommon texture

Marshmallow Fondant {adapted from various internet sources such as Wilton}


– 1 package marshmallows (preferably mini marshmallows, as you will be melting them down)
– 2-4 tbsp water
– red and green food coloring
– 2 lbs powdered sugar
– shortening (to coat your hands and work surface)


Microwave your marshmallows and 2 tbsp of water for 30 seconds. Stir them up, and keep microwaving until the mixture is homogeneous. Or if you’re me and don’t own a microwave, let them sit in the oven for a looonnnnnnnnng time. Add a majority of the powdered sugar to the bowl of marshmallow sludge and mix as best you can. Also add enough red and green food coloring to make the substance look sufficiently brainy. At this point you’ll want to coat yourself in shortening and prepare to get messy.

Turn the mixture out onto a greased work surface, and knead as you would bread dough. Add more sugar if it seems possible to do so, and add small amounts of water if (and only if) the mixture is too dry (evidenced by tearing). The going gets difficult, but a fondant should develop after 5 to 10 minutes of kneading.

I then took small amounts of the fondant and rolled them out, snake-style, to make the brain furrows. Arranging them on a frosted cake is relatively easy, and definitely fun. The most fun comes at the end, however, when you can feel free to let loose and spatter corn syrup blood all over the place! To make, simply add in red food dye to a 1/2 c. of corn syrup. Add a drop of green as well, if desired. Sprinkle and spatter to your heart’s content.

you’re bahhhhhhrking!

For those in Maine (next year):
Treworgy Family Orchards
3876 Union St, Levant, Maine
and for those in Minnesota:
Pine Tree Apple Orchard: Open daily 9h00-19h00
450 Apple Orchard Rd, White Bear Lake, MN

*I use past tense because Treworgy’s was only open for fall activities through October 31st.