Dirt cake

dirtcake

Spot the impostor: It’s not a plant, it’s a cake. It only looks like a plant. (OK, a fake plant. But still.) I got this recipe from my mom, who’s been playing it for laughs since I was a child. This is my second year making it myself (for a different crowd each time, of course), and it gets a good response, even once the “dirt” cover is broken and people start digging into the cake. There’s just something about eating out of a flowerpot that amuses people.

This recipe falls short of what I’d consider “cooking” (or “baking,” for that matter). The original included Cool Whip, Oreos and instant pudding. I generally prefer doing things a little more naturally, but with this recipe I got lazy: It’s very quick to assemble when you’re using an assortment of premade foods.

I like serving this cake for Shavuot, since it’s very dairy intensive.

For a cake that fits a 16-centimeter flowerpot:

Bouquet of fake or real flowers

Layer #1:
150 grams chocolate cookies (sandwich cookies, Oreos, whatever — most important that they’re brown)
1 tablespoon good cocoa powder

Layer #2:
300 grams cream cheese (I used 5% fat)
3 tablespoons sugar

Layer #3:
One package of vanilla pudding (enough to make 2 cups)
2 cups milk

Grind the cookies in the food processor with the cocoa powder to make crumbs. If you’re not using sandwich cookies, you’ll want to add a tablespoon or two of butter or cream cheese, so that the crumbs aren’t too powdery. Set aside.

Mix the cream cheese with the sugar. Set aside.

Mix the pudding according to the instructions on the box. It’ll most likely call for the 2 cups of milk I listed in the ingredients. Set aside.

Line the inside of the flowerpot with tinfoil that stops a few centimeters before the top. Layer cookies, followed by cream cheese and pudding, repeat with another three layers, and then top with a final layer of cookies (this is the “dirt” that hides the cake).

Wrap the stems of the flowers in plastic wrap and tinfoil (unless they’re plastic, and the cake won’t damage them). Stick them artfully into the center of the cake.

Leave the cake on the table throughout the meal, as if it were a decoration. This improves the shock value when you announce you’re serving dessert and then stick your spoon into a houseplant.

So long as the top layer is crumbled brown cookies, you can use whatever you want as filling. Variations could include layers of any range of soft, creamy fillings that don’t need to be cooked, or even fruit, such as strawberries.

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