Garden Stratigraphy “Cup” cakes

I have a love/hate relationship with Pinterest.  Yup, I’m on it, but I’m a lurker and re-pinner, not a post-er.  After a while, all that glossy perfection starts making me feel more than a little frustrated, insecure, and, well, like a big underachieving loser.  Who has TIME to do half of this stuff, let alone stage, light and professionally photograph it?  Especially since as you’ve probably already noticed, my photographs are strictly amateugarden cupcakesr hour, usually taken with my iPhone so I can also send ‘em right to Instagram or Facebook, or to be used in a completely inappropriate text message to a girlfriend.

My not-so-little anymore guy, Sprite, recently celebrated his 9th birthday, so months in advance he and I were pouring through Pinterest together trying to figure out what to make for his birthday cake (one of the three “B’s”: biscuits, brownies, and birthday cakes; reasons for which I will willingly and without whining, bake).  He didn’t like this, didn’t like that.  This, from a kid who is one of the perhaps 5 children in the United States who doesn’t like cake, but he is picky about what it will LOOK like.  Then, one day flipping through the TV channels he saw The Pioneer Woman making potted plant cakes for her daughter’s birthday.  “We should do that mom,” he said, “but completely different!”

This is what he came up with, no thanks to Pinterest.  He and his friends ate them up and asked for seconds.  So there, glossy perfection.  Take that.   

 Garden stratigraphy “cup” cakes

The boys loved these cakes because they were served in clear plastic cups so you could see all of the gooey crazy gummi goodness all the way to the bottom.  I loved it because it was insanely easy to clean up later; no mess from plates and scooping ice cream, and since 9 year old boys are notoriously difficult to make sit down and do anything for an extended period of time, it was perfect for a backyard party where they could wander around and eat at the same time.  You can use your favorite chocolate cake recipe for the cupcake layer, I used my standard go-to recipe to which I’ve been sworn to secrecy (sorry! I’m not going to burn a girlfriend over cake now matter how much y’all beg!)


12 chocolate cup cakes

15 chocolate sandwich cookies, crushed up in a ziplock bag

3 packages Gummi ‘worms’

1 package Gummi ‘mushrooms’

About two-thirds of a ½ gallon container of lime sherbet or mint chocolate chip ice cream

Sprite adding the finishing touches

Sprite adding the finishing touches

1)      Prepare your favorite chocolate cake recipe to make 12 big cupcakes (you’ll have a little bit of batter left over to pour into a small baking pan for ‘bonus cake.’  Mmmm, bonus cake.)

2)      Bake and let cool completely for 4-6 hours or cover overnight.

3)      Set out ½ gallon of lime sherbet (Sprite’s choice) or mint chocolate chip (Tim Collins’ choice) ice cream to soften.

4)      In each of 12 clear plastic cups (we used 9 oz. cups) layer the following from the bottom up:

2 gummi worms

About 2 teaspoons of crushed cookies

1 cupcake, gently smashed down into the cup

2 more gummi worms (around the edge of the cup so you can see them)

2 more 2 teaspoons cookies

About 1/4 to 1/3 cup softened sherbet or ice cream, smoothed to cover the top of the cup

Top with 2-3 gummi mushrooms

5)      Place all of the cakes on a tray or baking sheet and keep in the freezer until ready to serve.  Let sit out about 5-10 minutes before serving to soften up the cake layers.

If you wanted to get all Pinterest-y, these would also look really cool in Mason jars.  Just sayin’.