Cake of the Day: Piñata Cake from ‘Sweet Envy’

By Seton Rossini

Every day, Yahoo Food features delectable cakes. They taste good, they look good, and they’re made by good people — talented bakers from around the world. Today, Seton Rossini shares a colorful piñata cake with a surprise candy center from her cookbook Sweet Envy: Deceptively Easy Desserts, Designed to Steal the Show.


Piñata Cake
Makes one 7-by-9-inch layer cake

When I was a kid, piñatas were the unofficial requirement at every birthday celebration. My brother Dan, being the oldest and oddly overly cautious one, would make us all line up in an orderly fashion at safe distance from the piñata. (Because, you know, accidents happen when kids are blindfolded and swinging weapons.) Luckily, we won’t need those baseball bats and broom sticks. This piñata cake doesn’t need a whack; a knife’s all you need to reveal the delicious candy surprise inside. Here, a spiced Mexican Chocolate Cake is covered with fondant strips that mimic the paper fringe on a piñata. As a girl who’s had fiesta-themed birthday parties for as long as I can remember, this cake is a must-have. It’s a double-whammy of greatness: Have your piñata and eat it, too.

You’ll need:
Mexican Chocolate cake (see recipe)
Chocolate Buttercream Frosting (see recipe)
Assorted candies (about 3 cups)
1 lb. package of colored ready-to-use fondant, at least 4 colors
Confectioners’ sugar and cornstarch, for dusting

Mexican Chocolate Cake
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups granulated sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
¾ cup strong coffee, at room temperature

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 13-by-18-inch sheet pan, line with parchment paper, then grease the paper.

In a large bowl, whisk or sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, cayenne pepper and salt. Set aside.

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
3½ cups confectioners’ sugar
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
3 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time until fully incorporated, then mix in the vanilla.

With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture, alternating with the buttermilk until the batter is completely mixed and smooth. Slowly mix in the coffee and beat until just incorporated.

Pour into the sheet pan and bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Sift or whisk the confectioners’ sugar and cocoa powder together and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter for about 30 seconds. Turn the mixer on low, then add the powdered sugar mix.

Drizzle in the milk and mix until creamy. Mix in the vanilla, then beat at medium speed for about a minute. Add more milk if needed to achieve desired consistency.

To Assemble:
Once the cake cools completely, cut the cake in half lengthwise and crosswise. You will have four pieces that are about 6½-by-8½ inches.

Place one of the rectangles on your cake stand or serving plate and frost with a thin layer of the Chocolate Buttercream Frosting. Top with a second layer of cake, frost it and top with the third cake layer.

Use a sharp knife to carefully cut the middle out of the stack, leaving a
1½-inch border of cake around the edge. Fill the cavity all the way to the top with candy!


Spread a thin layer of frosting on top of the cake, then place the remaining rectangle on top. Trim any overhanging cake so the sides are even.

Frost the entire cake with the Chocolate Buttercream Frosting and chill in the refrigerator while you prepare the fondant strips.

Lightly dust a clean work surface with a 50/50 mix of confectioners’ sugar and cornstarch.

Roll the fondant to ¹⁄8-inch thick and use a ruler and a sharp knife to cut the fondant into ½-inch-by-2-inch strips. Re-roll the scraps, cutting as many strips as you can from each color.


Take the cake out of the refrigerator. Starting from the bottom, arrange the strips in a row all around the cake. Overlap the strips slightly so none of the frosting peeks through and let strips hang off the cake slightly so they look like fringe.

Once you finish the first row, start the second row in another color. Overlap the fondant to continue the fringe look. Continue until the entire cake is covered in the strips of fondant. Use your fingers to curl up the edges of the fringe.

If you don’t like the color options in the store-bought fondant, just buy white and color to your liking.

Low-fat milk works, but whole milk makes for the creamiest frosting.

Reprinted with permission from Sweet Envy: Deceptively Easy Desserts, Designed to Steal the Show by Seton Rossini (Countryman Press).


More playful cakes that will steal the show:

Burger Cake

Beehive Cake

POP Cake