Surprise your family this Thanksgiving by serving a roasted turkey…for dessert!
Then, wow them even more when you cut the first slice and candy corn comes falling out! This piñata style cake is a fun way to feed a big crowd. It's not only stuffed with candy, but also filled with a sweet take on Thanksgiving Day stuffing!
There are a few ways to serve a turkey cake, either on a platter or in a roasting pan filled with real (or fondant) fruits, vegetables, and herbs. I chose to make some lettuce and carrots out of fondant, which added a nice pop of color.
To get started, mix one Betty Crocker yellow cake mix according to package instructions, swapping out whole milk for the water.
Fill a 9x13-inch baking pan with batter. For easy removal, line the baking pans with non-stick aluminum foil. Repeat this process, making a total of three 9x13-inch cakes.
Bake cakes according to package instructions. Remove cakes from oven and allow to cool completely.
Cut the rounded part of each cake off, leveling each into a nice even thickness. As you work, save all of your cake scraps – they make the cubes for the stuffing!
Cut a cake board into the shape of a roasted turkey. Use it as a guide to cut all three cakes into a turkey shape. Freeze cakes for at least 3 hours to make them easier to handle. NOTE: At first, I didn't do this, and broke a cake trying to layer them. So don't skip this step!
Place one cake on the cake board. Use Betty Crocker vanilla frosting to frost just around the edge of this cake. Cut and remove a hole from the middle of another cake – this will be the well for the candy. Place that cake on top of the bottom cake.
Fill the well in the second cake with candy corn, or any other candy you'd like. Frost around the edge of that cake, making sure you don't get the frosting too close to the candy well.
Place the third cake on top. Use a serrated knife to carve the cakes into the shape of a roasted turkey.
Using a spoon, scoop out a hole at the more pointed end of the turkey to create the turkey cavity. This is where the stuffing will go in the finished cake.
Pour three tubs of Betty Crocker vanilla frosting into a mixing bowl. Stir in 1/4 cup cocoa powder and some Betty Crocker orange gel food coloring. Add more of each until you get the desired shade for your frosting.
Frost a thin layer over the entire turkey cake. This is not your final coat of frosting; it's just to hold in all of the crumbs. Let the cake sit at room temperature for 30 minutes so the crumb coat dries a bit.
Put a thicker second coat of frosting all over the cake, building up the areas that need some structure – like the backbone area of the turkey. Allow frosting to dry while you make all the other components of the cake.
Cut some of the cake scraps you saved into small 1/2 inch cubes. Place in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake in a 350 degree F oven for 12-14 minutes until golden brown and nicely toasted. Crumble all the remaining cake scraps into a bowl. Add a few spoonfuls of vanilla frosting and mix until the cake all holds together in a ball, adding more frosting as needed.
To make the turkey stuffing, you can simply use the toasted cubes of cake, but I wanted more variety in my stuffing, so I made some "sausage" out of the cake and frosting mixture. Break off small jagged looking pieces and dust them with cocoa powder. Set aside until ready to add the stuffing to the cake.
Set the turkey cake on a platter or in a roasting pan. Use the remaining cake/frosting mixture to sculpt two large turkey legs and two wings. Attach them to the cake.
Frost the legs and wings and allow the frosting to dry.
Once the frosting has dried to the touch, press a paper towel that is imprinted with dots all over the cake to make it look like realistic turkey skin. If the frosting sticks, allow it to dry longer.
If you own an airbrush, you can spray the turkey with some orange, red, and brown to give it a realistic look. I used some spray mist food coloring to add some dimension to my cake. The cake looks great just frosted too, so this is an optional step!
Another optional step is creating some vegetables or fruit out of colored fondant or modeling chocolate. I made lettuce and a few carrots. You can also just use real vegetables, fruits or herbs to adorn your platter.
Add the stuffing and cake "sausage" to the turkey, filling the cavity and allowing it to spill out onto the platter.
Arrange your fondant (or real) fruits and vegetables around the edges of the turkey cake.
This cake will keep at room temperature for up to two days. The longer it sits, the more moisture will accumulate on the candy inside the cake. I always add a bit more candy to the cake as I'm serving it, just to add more color to the dessert plates.
Serve this turkey cake to your Thanksgiving guests for a fun, surprising dessert!