Adding a mortar and pestle to a cake for a pharmacist or pharmacy school graduate is a creative nod to one of the profession's oldest tools of the trade. The earliest pharmacists used mortars (bowls) and pestles (baseball bat-shaped hand tools) to grind herbs, minerals and other substances for medicine. The tool is no longer used by most modern pharmacists, but it remains an important symbol of the profession.
A Simple Cake Topper
Using an actual mortar and pestle as a cake topper is perhaps the simplest way to incorporate the tool into a cake's design. Small ceramic mortars and pestles can be purchased relatively inexpensively from cooking supply shops. For support, insert a wooden dowel through the top of the cake in the location where you'll set the mortar and pestle. Jazz up the decoration by adding sprinkles or coloured sugar into the bowl.
Making a three-dimensional reproduction of a mortar and pestle is a relatively simple process, achieved by stacking three or four round cakes and hollowing out the insides with a knife to form a bowl shape. You may also want to taper the bottom of the outside of the bowl. When satisfied with the bowl shape, use a spatula to apply frosting. Fondant can also be used for a smoother appearance. Shape the pestle, which looks like a small baseball bat, using a mix of rice crispies and melted marshmallows. Allow the rice crispy sculpture to harden, then place it in the mortar and apply frosting or fondant.
Similar to a 3-D mortar-and-pestle cake, cupcakes can be hollowed out to create miniature bowls, with pestles made from rice crispy treats or candy bars. Add a little whimsy by including bits of candy into the bowl that party guests can try pulverising using your cupcake creation.
You can draw a mortar and pestle on a sheet cake with icing. If you're skilled at freehand drawing, draw the image directly onto the cake. If you need a little help, print out a line drawing of a mortar and pestle in the size you want it to appear on the cake. Use a piping bag to apply frosting onto the printed drawing, carefully tracing the image. When finished, carefully place the paper with frosting into a freezer and wait until the frosting freezes. When it's frozen, take it out and place it frosting-side-down onto the cake. Carefully remove the paper.
Expand the Theme
If you're worried that a mortar-and-pestle cake design is too simple, expand the theme by incorporating other tools of the pharmacy trade. Make a lab coat or prescription pad out of white fondant, or include empty prescription pill bottles with pills made from pieces of coloured fondant.