I have a boyfriend that is wild about tacos. This boyfriend had a birthday and as we all know baking = love, so obvi this means one thing: Taco Cake!
I am a regular victim of my own grandiose plans and this project was no different. Despite not being a very precise or accomplished baker, not ever having had much success in novelty baking, icing, or large scale multi-ingredient projects, I convinced myself this thing was going to look like something out of a pinterest glamour shot. It did not, but it was delicious and my boyfriend really liked it, so after a little crying in a bar alley outside his birthday party, I eventually liked it too. Learn from my mistakes – don’t let your expectations ruin a perfectly great taco cake and birthday show.
The cake is comprised of a few components. The outer shell is a snickerdoodle cookie, the taco meat is a chocolate cake and chocolate icing, the sour cream is vanilla buttercream icing, the lettuce and cheese are two different kinds of shredded, dyed coconut, and the pico de gallo is a 3 fruit salsa. When researching all of the available taco cakes (this is the inspiration for this cake’s structure), some looked amazing but might not have tasted so great with all the fondant, or used too much straight candy, so I decided to make deliciousness a focal point of the cake in addition to the overall aesthetic goal. I tasted the components together as they were completed to make sure each new thing didn’t make it taste weird or combine strangely with the rest. Shockingly, this is a good tasting cake. It is crazy sweet between the cookie, frosting and cake, but it is also tasty.
This is going to be long. I have not listed out all of the baking instructions of the cookie and cake as those can be found at the provided links. If you want to make and assemble a delicious taco cake like this one, here is what I did.
Flour – 1 3/4 cups + 2 3/4 cups
Sugar – 2 cups + 1 1/2 cups
Brown sugar – 2 Tablespoons
Powdered sugar -1 3/4 cups
Cocoa powder – 3/4 cup + 1/4 cup
Baking powder – 1 1/2 teaspoons
Baking soda – 1 1/2 teaspoons + 1 teaspoon
Salt – 1 teaspoon + 1/4 teaspoon + 1/4 teaspoon
Cream of Tartar – 2 teaspoons
Cinnamon – 2 teaspoons
Vanilla extract – 2 teaspoons + 2 teaspoons+ 1 teaspoons
Eggs – 2 eggs +2 eggs
Milk – 1 cup
Vegetable oil – 1/2 cup
Butter – 1/2 cup + 1/2 cup
Shortening – 1/2 cup
Boiling water – 1 cup
Strawberries – 6 medium
Kiwi – 2 small
Bartlett pear – 1 medium
Flaked coconut – 1.5 cups
Shredded coconut – 1/2 cup
Food coloring – green, yellow, red, blue
Baked Goods Recipes
2 Round cake pans
Serving plate/cake board large enough for your cake
I wanted the “shell” to have an authentic flecked shell appearance, so I decided to mix in some black sugar with the traditional cinnamon/sugar mix in which the snickerdoodle is already rolled. I substituted 2T brown sugar for the 2T white sugar listed in the linked recipe.
To make black sugar, I mixed the blue, red, and green food coloring in equal parts. Starting with 2-3 drops of each, I mixed the dye in a small ramekin until the color appeared black. Once the liquid color appeared black, I mixed it in small amounts with 2T of sugar (I just want flecks of sugar) until the sugar appeared black.
To avoid over mixing the black and losing the effect, I mixed the standard snickerdoodle coating mix of cinnamon and sugar first and then added the black sugar to mix.
After gently mixing the sugars, this was the end result.
Mix full snickerdoodle cookie recipe according to directions. You can mix half, but I broke my first shell beyond repair and was glad to have backup dough.
Spread cinnamon sugar mix on a flat surface.
Roll half the dough into a ball and roll through the sugar mixture to fully coat.
Put dough between two parchment or plastic wrap sheets and roll out to even thickness.
I marked out my circle on some parchment paper by tracing the cake pan for size match and rolled my dough until I could fill it.
After baking, let the dough cool for a few minutes. When the cookie is settled but still warm, drape over a plastic wrapped towel or other large rounded object as it finishes cooling to get the “taco” shape. This is where I destroyed my first one and also slightly broke my second one. Luckily my 2nd one only broke at the bottom bend and I could still set the cake up. There are no pictures of this and fewer from here out, because this is where my fears of not having a blindingly, perfectly flawless taco cake started to be realized.
1/2 cup softened butter
1 3/4 cup powdered sugar
1/8 cup cocoa
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 T milk/cream
This will make both the chocolate and the vanilla frosting. Cream the butter and vanilla with an electric mixer. Sift in the powdered sugar and salt. Continue mixing until fluffy and stiff. If too stiff, incorporate milk or cream one – two teaspoons at a time to thin as needed. Once vanilla recipe is mixed, remove half and place in a plastic bag. Mix in cocoa powder to complete the chocolate icing.
Chocolate Cake Taco Meat
Bake the cake according to the link instructions. Unlike me, let the cake cool all the way before you take it out of the pans or you will rip it apart.
Fortunately, this is a double stack recipe and going to be completely covered. I used the broken and cut pieces to fill the edges of the cake and make it look like crumbled ground beef.
Ice the cake in between the layers with chocolate icing and stack. Cut the bottom 1/5th off to make a flat edge.
Pico de Gallo
Strawberries – 6
Kiwi – 2
Pear – 1
Chop all ingredients into small chunks and mix together.
I don’t know the measurements on this. I just dumped some coconut in the bowl and started guessing on the color.
The lettuce is the larger flaked-style coconut. What I used is sweetened, but as I mentioned above, this is a crazy sweet cake. Unsweetened would be just fine.
This is probably 1 1/2 – 2 cups and I used 5 drops of green to get the light iceburg lettuce color.
I did the same rough process for the cheese, just with less coconut. This is the shredded-style coconut.
This is about 1- 1 1/2 cups of coconut and probably 3-5 drops of yellow color.
Place the cookie shell on the cake plate. Insert the double stacked iced cake inside the cookie. Crumble the rest of the cake on the edges to look like ground beef.
Take the bag of vanilla icing and clip the corner open. Pipe a layer of icing along the top of the chocolate cake to hold the next layer in place.
Stuff the green coconut in the remaining shell space. Sprinkle the yellow coconut and then top with the pico de gallo. Serves 15-20.