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Cactus cupcakes in terra-cotta pots look like the real thing

Diana Johnson is a recipe developer, photographer, writer and the creator of Eating Richly Even When You're Broke. She is passionate about helping people learn to cook and eat foods rich in nutrition and flavor, even on a tight budget, a...

The most delicious cactus on Earth

These cute cactus cupcakes are a lot easier to handle than their prickly look-alikes. Chocolate cake is baked in terra-cotta pots and then topped with cookie crumb dirt and a fudgy, chocolate-filled cactus made of royal icing.

Cactus cupcakes

Take your houseplant from desert to dessert with these adorable cactus cupcakes in real flower pots. They're surprisingly easy to make and create quite an impact.

Cactus cupcakes

Start by mixing up a box of Betty Crocker Super Moist triple chocolate fudge cake mix and lining your pots with circles of parchment paper.

Cactus cupcakes

Pour the cake batter into the pots, filling them about 1/2 to 2/3 full.

Cactus cupcakes

Bake the pots for 20 to 30 minutes, until a BBQ skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cactus cupcakes

Once the cakes have cooled, spread the edges of the cakes with chocolate frosting, building up the frosting inside the pot until it's level.

Cactus cupcakes

Dip the pot in ground-up Oreos to make a rim of "dirt" around the edges, and then plop a ball of chocolate frosting (about 1-1/2 inches wide) in the center of the cake.

Cactus cupcakes

Use a #18 star tip to pipe green spikes in a circle around the base of the frosting ball.

Cactus cupcakes

Continue piping in smaller and smaller circles until you have just a small hole on top of the frosting ball.

Cactus cupcakes

Switch to the pink frosting, and pipe pink stars in the center, building up until it looks like a flower.

Cactus cupcakes

The royal icing does get quite hard, but the fudgy center of chocolate frosting keeps it from being too dry. The cupcakes are best eaten within 3 days at the most and shared between 2 people.

Cactus cupcakes

Cactus cupcakes in terra-cotta pots recipe

Serves 12 

Ingredients:

  • 1 box Betty Crocker Super Moist triple chocolate fudge cake mix
  • 3 eggs
  • 1-1/4 cups water
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil (or melted coconut oil) 
  • Parchment paper
  • 6 (3-inch) terra-cotta pots
  • 1 can chocolate frosting
  • 12 Oreo cookies
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 egg whites (use pasteurized eggs to avoid salmonella) 
  • Red icing color
  • Kelly green icing color
  • Pastry bags and #18 star tip

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Mix the cake mix with the eggs, water and vegetable oil.
  3. Cut 6 circles out of parchment paper, slightly smaller than the bases of the pots. Place 1 circle at the bottom of each pot.
  4. Fill the pots about 1/2 to 2/3 full with the cake batter, and bake in the oven for 20 to 30 minutes, until a BBQ skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  5. Pulse the Oreos in a food processor until they're fine crumbs.
  6. Once your cakes have cooled, frost the edges of each one with chocolate frosting, filling in gaps to make the frosting level with the pot. Dip the pots into the cookie crumbs.
  7. Scoop out a ball of chocolate frosting about 1-1/2 inches wide, and place it in the center of a cake. Repeat with the remaining cakes.
  8. In a stand mixer, whip up the powdered sugar and egg whites until stiff peaks form. Scoop out 1/4 of the royal icing, and mix it in a small bowl with red icing color, adding a little bit of the color at a time until you get a bright pink. Mix green icing color into the larger amount of icing.
  9. Fill a pastry bag with the green icing, and fit it with the #18 tip. Pipe spikes around the base of the chocolate frosting ball, and continue piping circles of spikes up the top of the chocolate frosting ball until you have about a 1/2-inch hole at the top.
  10. Once you have piped green icing on all your cupcakes, fill another pastry bag with the pink icing. Clean out the star tip, and put it on the bag. Pipe a pink flower onto each top of the chocolate frosting balls.
  11. The royal icing will harden as it sits, so eat these cupcakes within 2 to 3 days. One potted cupcake feeds 2 people.

More cupcakes in disguise

Molcajete cupcakes with "guacamole"
Root beer float cupcakes
Mimosa cupcakes

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