There are lots of recipes for Dirt Cake out there on the Internet, but this one is a little different. It really has cake in it! It takes a while to make, but we think it's worth it. Don't let all the steps scare you! Read over them and decide which ones you want to do. It's YOUR Dirt Cake from here on out!
Step 1: Make a chocolate cake. You can use your favorite recipe or a mix. Here is the recipe I use for a moist, delicious one. It makes two 8" or 9" layers. Use one now and freeze the other one for later.
¾ cup softened butter
2 cups sugar
3 large eggs at room temperature (leave out of fridge for about half an hour)
2 tsp vanilla
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder (like Hershey's)
1 tsp baking soda
¾ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1½ cups milk
Grease and flour 2 round or square cake pans and set aside. Preheat oven to 350*. In a bowl, sift or stir together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside. In a large mixing bowl beat butter on medium to high speed for about 30 seconds. (A stand mixer works great for this cake as there is a lot of mixing.) Gradually add sugar a little at the time, beating on medium speed until well mixed. It takes about 3 minutes or so. Scrape the sides of the bowl and the beaters. Beat for another 2 minutes. Add the eggs, one at the time and continue beating for another minute. Beat in vanilla. Next, alternate adding the flour mixture and the milk, beating on low speed just until combined. After everything is added in, mix on medium speed for another 20 seconds, just to make sure it's all mixed well. Spread the batter into the pans and bake for 30-35 minutes. Check for doneness by inserting a toothpick into the center. If it comes out clean, it's done. Cook cake in the pans for 10 minutes then remove and place on cooling racks until completely cool.
Step 2: If you are going to have cookie "flowers" in your Dirt Cake, it's time to mix the cookie dough! Or, you can use ready-to-use cookie dough, if you must J If you are going to use silk or real flowers, skip this part….
Thoroughly cream together: 2/3 cup shortening (or 1/3 C shortening and 1/3 C butter), ¾ cup sugar and 1 tsp vanilla. Add 1 egg and beat until light and fluffy. Stir in 4 tsp milk. Sift together and add into creamed mixture: 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, 1 ½ tsp baking powder, ¼ tsp salt. Divide dough in half, roll into 2 balls, put back into bowl, cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least 1 hour. Preheat oven to 350*. Working with 1/2 at the time, roll dough out on a lightly floured surface. The dough should be about ¼" thick, if you are using cookie sticks; 1/8" thick for regular sugar cookies. Cut into flowers using cookie cutters. Carefully insert cookie stick from one of the outside edges of the shape, twisting slightly while inserting. The dough tears sometimes. If this happens, just take some of the excess dough and piece around the tear, smoothing it out as much as possible. Immediately (and carefully) place each cookie onto the cookie sheet as soon as it is cut and stick has been inserted. The longer the dough is out, the softer it becomes, and harder to work with, so cut, stick, cookie sheet. Once it's on the sheet, you don't have to handle it again until it's baked. Bake for about 8-10 minutes. Cool for 2-3 minutes before removing to cooking rack. Makes between 1 and 2 dozen, depending on size of cookies.
A little tricky to work with, but not impossible. Beat together 3 Tbsp Meringue Powder, 4 cups powdered sugar, 1 Tbsp clear vanilla flavoring and 5 Tbsp warm water. Beat for about 7 minutes or until stiff peaks form. For thinner icing, add in 1 tsp warm water for each cup of icing. This recipe makes about 3 cups of icing. I found that when I added drops of food coloring it thinned it out enough. Be sure to keep grease, butter, or oil away from utensils you are using to mix icing. Royal Icing is used to decorate cookies and not meant to use to frost cakes with. It hardens fairly quickly. Store extra icing covered, at room temperature. NOW, you are ready to decorate your cookies! Good luck!
Step 3: Make some dirt out of about half a pound or so of Oreos If you have a little one around (or do it yourself… it's fun!), tell him/her to go get their plastic toy hammer and come to the kitchen. You've got a job for them to do. While they are digging in the toy box, put those cookies in a plastic bag and seal it up. Squeeze the air out first or it will explode once that hammer comes down on it… When little one returns, have him/her pound away on the bag of cookies until they resemble dirt. Turn the bag over occasionally so they don't wear a hole in one spot…. Or, if you are doing it, use your food processor or the back of a heavy duty ladle or spoon on the plastic bag. A rolling pin works, too.
Step 4: Make the filling. Soften 6 ozs cream cheese and 3 Tbsp butter. Place in a large bowl and beat until creamy. Set aside. In another large bowl, whisk together 1 small box INSTANT choc pudding mix, 1 small box INSTANT vanilla pudding mix and 2 ½ cups milk, until well blended. It'll be kind of thick. [Don't follow the directions on the box! It will be too thin for your cake if you do] With a rubber spatula or a big spoon, fold pudding mixture into the cream cheese mixture. Then, fold in an 8 oz container of Cool Whip. And…. there's the filling!
Step 4: TIME TO PUT IT ALL TOGETHER – FINALLY!
If you are using a flower pot with holes in the bottom, remember to put some foil or something in the bottom so all your cake will stay inside the pot. You can use a (clean!) flower pot, mini flower pots or a bucket. First, break part of the cake into small pieces (a little bigger than a bite) and put a layer of it down into the pot. Next, scoop in some filling and spread it out. Don't be shy, there's plenty! Throw some "dirt" (crushed Oreos) on top of that, then more filling, then more cake, more filling and ending up with "dirt" on top. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours. It's much better the day after. Just before serving, plant your "flowers" in the dirt. Show off your decorated cookies on a stick, put some silk flowers in or cover the stems of real flowers with plastic wrap and plant those.
Step 5: Use as a center piece for Easter dinner, then eat it for dessert! Enjoy!
As always, if you have questions, please feel free to call me at 205-422-5009, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit me on facebook at Darlene's Kitchen.
Thanks for watching today!