Circus Dream Ice Cream + How to Make Custard-Based Ice Cream Video

When I was a kid, animal crackers were cool. Everybody loved them. But there was one snack that even was better: frosted circus animal cookies. I’m not talking about the ones that were dusted with a skimpy, see-through “icing;” I’m talking about the fully-frosted, pink and white shortbread cookies covered in colorful non-pareil sprinkles. Those treats took a top spot in the ranks of childhood snacks, up there with the squeezable Kool-Aid bottles and Dunkaroos.

I’m not going to pretend that I hit a magic age of adulthood where I stopped loving childhood favorites like circus animal cookies; I still love ’em, and I’m still going to love ’em when I’m old, decrepit, and eating them with dentures. There’s no denying that crisp shortbread coated in a thick vanilla icing and rainbow sprinkles is both whimsical and pancake-flippin’ delicious. Every time I walk down the cookie aisle in the grocery store, my eyes meet that bag of pretty pink and white cookies, and a longing takes a hold of my heart. Finally, a few weeks ago, I said to myself: “Who cares if I’m almost 19 years-old? I’m buying some freakin’ cookies.”

It only took one frosting-covered elephant for me to fall in love again. A few bags later, I found myself pondering what else I could do with the cookies. Ice cream crossed my mind…but what flavor does one pair with circus animal cookies? Naturally, you pick another circus-friendly food. And what treat is more synonymous with circuses than cotton candy? So, my friends, I whipped up the creamiest, dreamiest, richest cotton candy ice cream and studded it with the crisp circus animal cookies. This is the ice cream straight from your circus dreams. It’s Circus Dream Ice Cream!

This flavor is sure to make any kid go wild, because what kid doesn’t love cotton candy ice cream and frosted circus animal cookies? However, don’t be surprised if it brings out the kid in you too. You’re never too old to enjoy something whimsical and delicious.

If custard-based ice creams scare you, never fear. They’re super easy, and I’ll prove it to you in my how-to video below. A custard-based ice cream is so rich and creamy in comparison to no-cook recipes. Give it a try; you won’t be sorry.

Now, grab a spoon and take a trip to the circus!

A Few Tips Before You Get Cooking:

  1. Make sure you watch the video to catch a step-by-step breakdown of how to make the ice cream base.
  2. I didn’t entirely love the Duncan Hines Cotton Candy Frosting Creations, so if you can get your hands on an alternative cotton candy flavor method, go for it.
  3. Don’t like cotton candy ice cream? Plain vanilla would still be incredible, or try white chocolate.
  4. Quite honestly, I don’t think you need a thermometer for making the ice cream. When the mixture thickens and coats the back of a wooden spoon, you know it’s time to take it off the heat.
  5. Add sprinkles to the mix if you like.
  6. Marshmallow sauce would be a fun topping.
  7. Cut recipe in half for a 2-person serving.
  8. The vanilla extract is not added until the end because it burns easily.

Circus Dream Ice Cream
Adapted from Café Lynnylu

Yield: about 1 quart


  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 packets of Duncan Hines Cotton Candy Flavor Creations
  • Blue food dye, optional
  • 1 cup chopped frosted circus animal cookies


  1. Bring milk and cream to a boil in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk the yolks and sugar together until very well blended and just slightly thickened. Still whisking, drizzle in about one-third of the hot liquid-this will temper, or warm the eggs so they won’t curdle. Whisking all the while, slowly pour in the remaining liquid. Pour the custard back into the pan and cook over medium heat, stirring without stopping (so it doesn’t burn), until the custard thickens slightly and coats the back of a spoon; if you run your finger down the bowl of the spoon, the custard should not run into the track. The custard should reach at least 170°F, but no more than 180°F, on an instant-read thermometer.
  2. Immediately remove the pan from the heat and pour the custard into a 2-quart measuring cup or clean heatproof bowl. Stir in vanilla extract.
  3. Refrigerate the custard for at least 2 hours before churning it into the ice cream. Meanwhile, stick an empty mixing bowl in the freezer to chill.
  4. Scrape the chilled custard in the bowl of an ice cream maker and churn according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Immediately pour the ice cream into the chilled bowl you put in the freezer earlier (this will keep it from melting immediately). Gently stir in the cookies just until evenly distributed. Pack the ice cream into an air-tight container and freeze it for at least 2 hours, until it is firm enough to scoop.

Roasted Aspargus in Garlic Bechamel Sauce + How to Make a Roux Video

A roux is the backbone of any thick and creamy sauce. Mac & cheeses, dairy-based soups, and more rely on the essential roux to make them viscous and rich. I’ve made a roux so many times for so many different recipes, that it seems so basic to me. It wasn’t until I was talking to Sister Cookie the other day that I realized people who’ve never made a roux might not see it as such a simple task.

So, to alleviate your roux-related fears, I created a quick video to demonstrate just how easy a roux is to make. Moreover, you’ll see that it’s fool-proof; you don’t have to fret over whether or not it’s going to turn out. “Roux” sounds like something fancy and elaborate, but here’s the truth: it’s not. Most commonly, a roux is simply equal parts butter & flour. This dynamic duo acts as a thickening agent in your sauce. You don’t have to do any difficult to create the roux. Melt the butter, whisk in the flour, whisk in your liquid, then cover and let simmer. After about 10 minutes, watch what started out as thin and runny morph into a thick & creamy sauce. Easy as pie, my friends.

Check out my video below to see the magic of a roux in action. I had to built a roux for my luscious Garlic Bechamel Sauce that you see today. So, not only will you learn how to make a roux in the video, you’ll learn how to make this bechamel sauce too! It’s a two-for-one video! Yipee!

Now, as if that’s not enough to get excited over today, I’ve got this incredible Roasted Aspargus in Garlic Bechamel Sauce for you. It’s a very fancy and impressive side dish, perfect for dinner parties or romantic meals for two, but the secret is: it’s super easy to make.

Oven-roasting the asparagus is a stupidly simple way to bring out sweet, caramelized flavor, taking the asparagus from “eh” to “amazing!” I promise you, even if you don’t typically enjoy asparagus, you’re going to love it in this recipe. Between the incredible flavor that springs forth during oven roasting & the tender texture, this is asparagus, amplified.

Plus, my creamy, dreamy bechamel sauce makes anything taste good, regardless of how you feel about asparagus. If you covered a sneaker in this sauce, I’d eat it. For those who don’t know, bechamel sauce is a simple white sauce made with a roux, salt, pepper, and in this case, lots of sweet garlic. I also added some tangy onions for extra kick. This sauce is so easy, but so indulgent. It’s rich and velvety, the perfect topping for the roasted asparagus.

Whether you’re new to making roux, or an experienced veteran, I implore you to try this asparagus. It’s easy, flavorful, and blanketed by an indulgent white sauce. See what a roux can do for you.

A Few Tips Before You Get Cooking:

  1. Even if you’re an experienced roux-maker, you should watch the video to see how to make my Garlic Bechamel Sauce.
  2. If you really hate asparagus, this sauce would be great over any roasted vegetable like broccoli or brussel sprouts.
  3. Bechamel sauce is an essential. Use it in lasagna, or use it as a base for a cheese sauce.
  4. If you don’t want the texture of the onions in the bechamel sauce, you can grate the onion instead of chopping it.

Roasted Asparagus in Garlic Bechamel Sauce
By The Smart Cookie Cook


  • 2 bunches fresh asparagus
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper

Garlic Bechamel Sauce

  • 3 tbsp. butter
  • 4 cloves fresh garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup yellow onion or 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • 3 tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • salt, to taste
  • pepper, to taste
  • grated parmesan cheese, for topping


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Hold a bunch of asparagus in your hands and bend it to see where it begins to break. Chop the bunch at the breaking point an discard the shorter, end portion.
  2. Lay the asparagus out in an even layer on the baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until asparagus is tender to your liking.
  3. Meanwhile, make the sauce. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the garlic & onions and saute until fragrant and translucent, about 2 minutes. Whisk in the flour until free of lumps. Let cook for about 2 minutes until roux turns a light blonde color, whisking continuously.
  4. Whisk in the heavy cream, making sure it is free of lumps. Cover and let simmer for 10 minutes or until thickened. Do not boil. Stir in the salt and pepper. Do not under salt, or your sauce will be lacking in flavor. Make sure you taste test! If your sauce is thicker than you’d like, add in a bit of milk, 2 tablespoons at a time.
  5. Plate the roasted asparagus and pour sauce over top. If you have extra sauce, keep it on the side and add more to individual servings if desired. Serve immediately with parmesan cheese for topping.

Turtle Cake + How-to Video

One thing I love about food is its unparallelled ability to make me smile. Keep your alcohol and keep your drugs; I just want a towering slice of cake. Say the word “deep-fried,” and watch me turn into a gleeful five year-old. Offer me some french fries, and see me jump for joy. Give me chocolate, and I’ll be your best friend.

There’s no quicker path to happiness than food. Sure, drugs and alcohol might give you a sense of bliss, but that stuff is going to take some time to set in. Food, on the other hand, will slap a smile on your face in a millisecond.

Case and point: this Turtle Cake. His smile is infectious (and edible). Just about everyone loves turtles, and just about everyone loves cake, which makes this turtle treat a double threat. One of those things is bound to appeal to you. And if you happen to not like turtles and/or cake, then I don’t think you have a soul, and we probably shouldn’t be friends.

Cake shaped like a turtle is enough to make anyone grin, but I’ll give you one more reason: you can make this. Yes, you can. It doesn’t matter if you’re a pastry chef or a boxed mix baker; this impressive and adorable cake is easy and on your level. All you need to do is bake the body in an oven-proof bowl, bake the feet & head in cupcake tins, frost, and decorate! There’s no complicated carving or fancy techniques necessary. And if you’re frightened by fondant, never fear. Just use store-bought and roll it out; it’s that easy! But if you’re still shaking in your pants, check out my alternative options in the tips below.

If all else fails and this little turtle isn’t enough to make you smile, then perhaps you’ll get a kick out of my epic fail at the end of my video. Check it out!

A Few Tips Before You Get Cooking:

  1. Make sure you catch the video above! The visual makes it much easier to understand how to put this cake together.
  2. You can use a boxed cake mix if you promise to make homemade frosting. Store-bought is disgusting in comparison.
  3. Butter & flour the heck out of your pans to be sure your cake comes out clean.
  4. Don’t try to take your cakes out of the pans before they’re entirely cool or they’ll break into a million pieces. Trust me; I learned the hard way…
  5. Work with the fondant quickly so it doesn’t dry out.
  6. Afraid of fondant? As I mentioned above, you have a couple of alternatives:
    • You can use blue sprinkles on the shell portion to contrast the green.
    • You can frost the feet & head green, then frost the shell with chocolate frosting.
    • You can use food gel to draw on the shell tiles.

Turtle Cake
By The Smart Cookie Cook


  • 1 batch of your favorite cake batter, boxed mix or homemade (I used my Funfetti recipe)
  • 1 batch Vanilla Buttercream, recipe follows
  • Green food dye
  • Red food gel
  • 2 candy eyes OR white + black food gel OR 2 M&M’s (for the eyes)
  • Brown fondant, or alternative (see tips above)

Special equipment: toothpicks, 1 1.5-quart oven-proof bowl like Pyrex, cupcake tin, pizza cutter


  1. Butter & flour the 1.5-quart bowl and 5 cupcake tins (or use liners for the cupcake tins). Prepare cake batter according to recipe directions. Fill bowl 2/3 then distribute remaining batter between the 5 cupcake tins, adding a bit more batter to one tin (this will be the head). Bake the bowl for 40-45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (the top may overbrown before the center cooks. Don’t worry; you can carve this off). Bake the cupcakes for 15 to 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool pans on wire racks. Once the cakes are completely cooled, run a knife around the edges of the pans and flip the cakes out. If either the cake or cupcakes have round, domed tops, carve them off so they have a flat surface to sit on.
  2. While the cakes cool, make the frosting:
    Vanilla Buttercream

    • 4 cups confectioners’ sugar
    • 1 cup butter (2 sticks), room temperature
    • 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
    • 1 to 2 tablespoons whipping cream

    In a standing mixer fitted with a whisk, cream the butter until fluffy. Add the sugar, a little at a time, mixing on low speed. Mix until well blended and then increase speed to medium and beat for another minute. Add vanilla, almond extract, cream, and several drops of green food dye and continue to beat on medium speed for 1 minute more. Add more cream or powdered sugar if necessary to reach desired consistency, and add more green if you would like a more vibrant color.

  3. Place the shell cake on whatever surface you plan to serve it on. Frost the round shell cake, smoothing out the frosting evenly.
  4. Roll out the fondant as thin as possible. Use the pizza cutter to cut out large rectangles, then round the corners. Place the rectangles around the shell, making sure they adhere to the frosting.
  5. Use two toothpicks to attach the head cupcake to the front of the body. Then use two toothpicks per cupcake to attach the feet. Place them evenly around the radius of the shell cake. Frost the head and feet as cleanly as possible, using a small knife like a butter knife. If you like, use a slightly damp paper towel to clean up where you got frosting on the fondant.
  6. Use remaining fondant to cut out toes for the feet. Use a knife or the pizza cutter to cut. They should be shaped like ovals with flat bottoms.
  7. Attach two candy eyes to the front of the head cupcake, or use the white and black food gel to draw eyes on. Use the red food gel to draw on a mouth.
  8. Serve or store in an airtight container for up to 4 days.

Dulce de Leche-Filled Cupcakes w/ 2 Kinds of Frosting + How to Fill a Cupcake Video

Plain cupcakes are sweet and innocent, but filled cupcakes are down-right sinful.

They’re decadent, indulgent, and just a bit naughty. But it’s the kind of naughty you like to have a taste of every now and then. No matter who you are, doing something bad feels good sometimes. These cupcakes will give you that rebellious thrill, followed up by a pleasureful sugar rush.

Even the sweetest cupcakes have a taste of sin.

Allow me to introduce you to these naughty yet nice Dulce de Leche-Filled Cupcakes. They look innocent enough, but when you bite in, you’ll find they’re hiding a delicious little secret: smooth, creamy dulce de leche tucked away inside like liquid gold waiting to be uncovered. Everyone loves surprises, and a filled cupcake is no exception. There’s nothing quite as elating as tearing into a cupcake to find it’s filled with a sweet surprise.

It’s like Christmas morning!

My favorite moist and tender chocolate cake recipe is the perfect cradle for the velvety dulce de leche. I’ve tried many chocolate cake recipes in my years, and this is by far the best I’ve had. I’ve never seen such a perfect texture, or such a beautiful crumb. And the flavor is so delicious, intensely chocolatey with just the right amount of sweetness. You will not find anything better.

We’ve got to make these cupcakes one step more sinful, and the best way to do that is with a fluffy mountain of frosting. I’ve got not one, but two options for you today, both of which are incredible. The first is my favorite Fudge Frosting: rich, decadent, and oh-so fudgy. If you’re a chocolate lover, this is the stuff for you. Secondly, I have a fluffy Dulce de Leche Frosting which compliments the filling. It’s sweet and creamy, so divine I could eat it with a spoon (and I did).

Both frostings are pure, unadulterated bliss. Choose whichever you like, or make both. The crowd favorite at the office was the dulce de leche, but I found both to be delectable paired with the cupcakes.

My boss declared these “the best cupcakes ever.” If that doesn’t entice you to try them, I don’t know what will. Don’t fear the filling. Doing so is super easy. Just check out my quick how-to video if you don’t believe me. You’ve got no excuse not to partake in these indulgent little devils. Go ahead, be bad for a little.

A Few Tips Before You Get Cooking:

  1. Check out my video to see how easy it is to stuff a cupcake.
  2. Think of all the filling possibilities: chocolate mousse, whipped cream, peanut butter, raspberry jam, the list goes on and on!
  3. To make the frosting pretty, pipe it on using a ziplock bag. You can check out my French Toast Cupcakes video to see how to make a ziplock piping bag.
  4. The cupcakes are less messy to carve after refrigeration.
  5. I cut the original recipe in half and got about 2 dozen cupcakes. Feel free to double it if you need a lot.

Dulce de Leche-Filled Chocolate Cupcakes

Chocolate cake recipe adapted from The Pastry Queen

  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter
  • 1 cups water
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup dark cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup regular cocoa powder
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tsp. + 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 16-oz. jar of dulce de leche (or make your own)
  • 1 batch Dulce de Leche Frosting, recipe follows
  • 1 batch Fudge Frosting, recipe follows


  1. Make the cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Fill two cupcake tins with cupcake liners. Set aside.
  2. In a small saucepan over medium heat, cook the butter, water, and oil until butter is melted. Remove from heat and set aside. In a separate bowl, stir together the sugar, cocoa powders, and flour. Whisk in the butter mixture until completely smooth. Then whisk in the eggs one at a time, followed by the buttermilk. Finally, whisk in the baking soda, salt, and vanilla.
  3. Fill the cupcake tins 2/3 full. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with just a bit of crumb. Let cupcakes cool in tins for 10 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  4. Meanwhile, make your frosting of choice (see recipes below).
  5. To fill the cupcakes: Angle a thin serrated knife and carve a cone-shaped piece from the center of each completely cooled cupcake, making sure not to cut through to the bottom and leaving a 1/2-inch radius around the sides. Your cut-out should be circular at the top and narrow at the bottom like a cone. As long as you tilt the knife while carving the circle of out the top, you’ll get your cone. You can dig out more with a spoon if you need, but do not scrape away the bottom or edges.
  6. Fill the hole with a spoonful of ducle de leche. Cut off the narrow tip of the cone and place it back on top of the hole. Frost each cupcake once filled. You may do so with a knife or pastry bag. To make a ziplock pastry bag: Fill bag with frosting & work the frosting to the bottom of one corner. Twist off the top like you’re cutting off its circulation and cut off the corner of the bag, making the hole bigger or smaller based on how thick you want the piping to be. Pipe frosting onto cupcakes. Store in air-tight containers. If it is warm, store in the fridge and let come to room temperature before eating.

Fudge Frosting
Adapted from Epicurious

  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup half and half or cream
  • 6 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 4 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Combine butter, 3/4 cup sugar,  and the half and half in a large saucepan. Stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves and mixture simmers. Remove from heat. Add both chocolates; whisk until smooth. Whisk in vanilla. Pour chocolate mixture into large bowl. Sift in powdered sugar; whisk to blend. Press plastic onto surface of frosting. Chill just until firm enough to spread, stirring occasionally, about 1 1/2 hours. Don’t over chill, or you won’t be able to spread it!

Dulce de Leche Buttercream Frosting
Adapted from Food Network

  • 4 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 cup butter (2 sticks), room temperature
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup dulce de leche (you should have enough left from the 16-oz. jar to fill the cupcakes)

In a standing mixer fitted with a whisk, cream butter until fluffy. Add the sugar a little at a time, mixing on low speed until well blended and then increase speed to medium and beat for another 3 minutes.

Add vanilla, dulce de leche, and cream and continue to beat on medium speed for 1 minute more, adding more cream or powdered sugar if necessary to reach desired consistency.

Bunny Butt Triple Chocolate Trifle + How-to Video

What if you made a trifle so delicious that even the Easter Bunny himself wanted some? That is exactly what happened here. This heavenly Triple Chocolate Trifle with layers of devil’s food cake, chocolate mousse, and Milky Way chunks is so good that the Bunny dove in head-first. Perhaps he was overcome with an uncontrollable craving for all that decadent chocolate.

This bunny-bombarded trifle is the epitome of a perfect Easter dessert. Not only does it taste absolutely awesome, but it has a chubby bunny sticking straight out of it. Colorful Peeps and mini Cadbury Creme Eggs add extra Easter cuteness. It is the ideal treat for that special Spring Sunday.

The bunny butt is made out of cake, and it’s surprisingly simple to make. Don’t get scared off! The trifle takes some time to assemble, but nothing about it is difficult (in fact, it’s fantastically easy). You can split up the steps across two days if you wish. But no matter what, you simply must make this trifle. It is the most adorable dessert in existence, and also the most delicious.

This trifle is a beautiful glass bowl of chocolate bliss. The devil’s food cake is dark and sinful; the chocolate mousse is fluffy and downright heavenly. Throw in those chunks of Milky Ways, and it’s almost too much deliciousness in one dessert. Almost.

This is decadence at its finest, a melt-in-your-mouth-close-your-eyes-and-sigh-with-satisfication treat. Even if it ain’t Easter, leave the bunny butt off and just serve up this tasty trifle. I’d be eating some now myself if the Easter Bunny hadn’t devoured it all.

Looking for the perfect Easter dessert? This is it. It’s adorable, festive, and completely delicious.

A Few Tips Before You Get Cooking:

  1. Watch my video above to see the step-by-step construction of this Easter treat. I’ve done my best to outline each step in the directions, but you will have a much clearer understanding of how to build the cake by watching the video.
  2. If you don’t like Milky Ways, then Snickers or Reeses would be a sweet substitute.
  3. To break this into a two day process: make both kinds of cake the day before and store in air-tight containers. The day of, make the mousse and assemble the whole thing.
  4. As I said above, you don’t have to save this delicious Triple Chocolate Trifle for Easter. Simply leave off the bunny and Easter decor, and you’ve got a decadent dessert any day of the year!

Bunny Butt Triple Chocolate Trifle
By The Smart Cookie Cook

Note: The boxed devil’s food cake is for constructing the “bunny butt.” The homemade recipe is for the filling. I use store-bought for the bunny since the bunny is for looks, not for eating. Similarly, I use homemade for the filling since that is for indulgence and palate pleasure. This way, you save time without sacrificing taste. However, you can do homemade for both or store-bought for both.


For the Bunny Butt & Decor:

  • 1 box devil’s food cake mix
  • 1 can strawberry frosting (or homemade)
  • 1 cup crushed Oreo crumbs
  • 1 8-oz. bag of shredded coconut
  • white fondant
  • Betty Crocker Green Cupcake Frosting
  • 5 Marshmallow Peeps, your choice of colors
  • 4 mini Cadbury Creme Eggs

For the Trifle:

  • 1 batch Homemade Devil’s Food Cake, recipe follows (or store-bought mix)
  • 1 batch Chocolate Mousse filling, recipe follows
  • 2 3.36-oz. packages fun-sized Milky Way bars, chopped

For the Devil’s Food Cake Filling:
Devil’s Food Cake adapted from Nigella Lawson

  • 1/2 cup best-quality cocoa powder, sifted
  • 1/2 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 stick plus 1 tablespoon (9 tablespoons) soft unsalted butter, plus some for greasing
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 11/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs

For the Chocolate Mousse Filling:

  • 1 package Jello Vanilla Instant Pudding Mix (not cook and serve)
  • 8 oz. semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 2 cups heavy cream, chilled
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar

Special Equipment: 1 1.5-quart oven-proof bowl, cupcake tin, parchment paper, trifle dish


  1. Butter and flour the 1.5 quart oven-proof bowl and the cupcake tin.
  2. Make the “bunny butt” cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare boxed devil’s food cake mix according to box directions. Pour into the greased bowl until 3/4 full; pour the remaining batter into the greased cupcake tins (about 2/3 full). You need 2 cupcakes, but will probably have extra batter. Bake cupcakes for 15-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Bake the round cake for 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  3. While the boxed cake cools, make the homemade Devil’s Food Cake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line the bottom of a 9×13-inch cake pan with parchment paper and butter the sides. Put the cocoa and dark brown sugar into a medium mixing bowl. Pour in the boiling water. Whisk to mix, then set aside.
  4. Using a mixer, cream the butter and white sugar together, beating well until pale and fluffy. Stir the flour, baking powder and baking soda together in another bowl, and set aside.
  5. Pour the vanilla extract into the creamed butter and sugar. Continue mixing as you add one egg, quickly followed by a portion of the flour mixture, then add the second egg. Keep mixing and incorporate the rest of the dried ingredients for the cake.
  6. Fold in the cocoa mixture, scraping its bowl out well with a spatula. Pour into greased, parchment paper-lined pan and bake for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Do not over-bake. Allow to cool completely.
  7. While the cake cools, make the Chocolate Mousse Filling: make vanilla pudding according to package directions. Set aside. Cook the chocolate in the microwave on high in 15-second intervals, stirring in between, until melted. Be careful not to burn it.
  8. Immediately whisk warm melted chocolate into the pudding until well-combined. Note: if the chocolate isn’t warm enough, it may solidify in the pudding before being incorporating. If this happens, simply heat the chocolate-pudding mixture in a pan on the stove over low heat just until the chocolate is completely melted in. Cover with cling wrap and chill for 15 minutes.
  9. Beat the heavy cream, cocoa powder, and powdered sugar together until stiff peaks form. Gently fold the cocoa whipped cream into the chocolate pudding until well-combined. Cover with cling wrap and store in fridge.
  10. Invert the cooled rectangular Homemade Devils Food Cake onto a cutting board. Use a bread knife to cut into chunks. Set aside.
  11. Invert the round “bunny butt” cake and the cupcakes onto a cutting board. Trim off the top of the bunny butt cake so that it sits evenly (cut the flat circular side, not the actual dome). Do the same for two cupcakes, also trimming the edges so that they have even, flat edges (no muffin top sticking out).
  12. “Dirty ice” the round cake and the cupcakes, evenly covering them in a layer of the strawberry frosting. Set aside.
  13. Assemble the trifle: Pour half of the chilled mousse into the bottom of a trifle dish and spread out evenly. Crumble half of the homemade cake chunks on top in an even layer, pressing down lightly. Top with half the Milk Way chunks. Repeat with second half of ingredients. Your layers should be: mousse, cake, candy; mousse, cake, candy.
  14. Sprinkle the Oreo crumbs over the finished trifle in a even layer to represent the “dirt” that that bunny will be diving into. Use a spatula to carefully pick up the “bunny butt” cake and transfer it to the trifle. Gently set it flat side-down in the very center of the trifle. Use a toothpick (or two) to attach each cupcake “foot” to the bunny butt cake. Place them where you want the front of your trifle to be, sticking out diagonally (not straight up or straight out). Use more frosting to smooth the feet into the butt and cover any holes.
  15. Carefully sprinkle the butt and feet cakes with coconut. Use your hand to press the coconut into the frosting as you go and keep it from falling into the trifle. The fresher and stickier the frosting is, the better the coconut will stick. Apply a quick fresh layer if necessary. When bunny is completely covered, use a spoon to scoop out any stray coconut from the trifle.
  16. Make the paws: Tear off a small piece of fondant and roll into a ball (about 3/4 of an inch). Use a rolling pin to roll into a flat circle. This should be the size of about 2/3 of the feet cupcakes. Spread frosting onto the back and “glue” onto the top of one of the feet. Do the same for the second foot. Roll out 6 smaller circles from 1/4-inch balls to represent the toes. You can make these bigger if you like. Use frosting to stick three toes under the larger circle on each foot.
  17. Tear off a larger hunk of fondant and roll into a 1.5 to 2-inch ball. This will be the bunny’s tail. Use your fingers to make indents in the ball, making it look fluffy. Use either a toothpick or a dab of frosting to attach it to the butt cake. Place it centered above the feet.
  18. Finishing touches: place the Peeps and Cadbury Eggs however you like atop the trifle. This adds that extra special touch plus a pop of color from the Peeps.
  19. Store in fridge until ready to serve. Enjoy!