Good morning! Hope everyone had a lovely Easter!

I've been so inspired lately to be more ambitious with my baking. Especially with cakes. There have been so many baking shows across Netflix and Hulu recently I've been watching. I've always been good at baking but I've been inspired to try making my baked goods more like works of art.

For Valentine's Day, my office held a bake-off. Of course, I used that as an excuse to make something super extra. I've never been much for Valentine's Day but I love Halloween. So I decided to make a more gruesome dessert that was still technically Valentine's Day themed: a 4-layer red velvet heart cake.

Everyone was simultaneously impressed and grossed out, which was my goal. And I ended up taking home first place.

What does any of this have to do with Easter? Today is Easter, right? Well, I'll tell you. It's a new holiday and I decided I wanted to make another fun cake and this one I wanted to blog.

I love Easter. On the surface, it feels like new beginnings - like the start of spring. Everything is so happy and bright. But, of course, the real meaning of the holiday is to celebrate the resurrection of Christ. Arguably the most important event in history.

Every year for as long as I can remember, my parents have held a party on Easter Sunday after church. We have family and friends over and just relax, eat and enjoy each other's company. This year was no different. Great food. Great conversation. And I wanted to finish it off with an amazing cake.

Red velvet is my favorite type of cake so that seemed like a good place to start. But, instead of red, I used spring colors - blue, green and pink. And then the outside of the cake gets decorated like a bunny rabbit. Delicious and adorable!

This is not a quick and easy cake and it's not for a beginner baker. Although, if you just want the velvet cake you can make the cakes and the cream cheese icing and stop there and you would still have a really delicious cake and a much easier process. But, if you're feeling adventurous, give this recipe a try. And then send me pictures. I'd love to see how it turns out for you. Probably even better than mine. I'm a great baker and the cake tastes amazing but when it comes to art...not so much. I wish the face had turned out a little better but hey...practice makes perfect!

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

~ Ingredients ~

Velvet Cake

¾ c. flour
¼ tsp. baking soda
1 ½ tsp. salt
¾ c. butter, softened
¼ c. sugar
3 eggs
3 Tbsp. cacao (cocoa will also work but I prefer cacao)
1 ½ c. buttermilk
2 Tbsp. + ¾ tsp. white vinegar
1 ½ tsp. vanilla extract
1 bottle blue food coloring (.25 oz.)
1 bottle green food coloring (.25 oz.)
1 bottle pink food coloring (.25 oz.)

Cream Cheese Icing

8 oz. cream cheese brought to room temperature
1 c. heavy whipping cream
1 c. confectioners sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Black Royal Icing

½ egg white
½ c. confectioners sugar
⅛ tsp. vanilla extra
Dash of salt
Black food coloring

Pink Modeling Chocolate

12 oz. pink melting chocolate
½ Tbsp. corn syrup

Other Decorations

2 lb. white fondant
32 oz. rice crispy treat sheet
2 12-inch wood skewers
1 bag of small candy eggs (optional)

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

~ Directions ~

Velvet Cake

Preheat over to 350° and grease three 8-inch round baking pans.

In one bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, and salt. If you don't have a sifter (as I don't), you can get the same effect by whisking the flour mixture together. Don't skip this step. It makes for a lighter, more fluffy cake.

In a separate bowl, mix together buttermilk, white vinegar, and vanilla.

In a larger mixing bowl, beat together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well to combine between each addition. Finally, mix in cacao.

Begin adding the flour and buttermilk mixtures to the butter/sugar mixture, alternating between the two and mixing well between each addition.

Split the batter evenly among three mixing bowls (about 2 c. batter each). To one bowl, the entire bottle of blue food coloring. To the second bowl, add the entire bottle of green food coloring. And, to the final bowl, add the entire bottle of pink food coloring. Mix each well until batter is aforementioned colors. This will give us our multi-color spring velvet cake look. Keep in mind I'm using small bottles. I picked up the Mccormick neon colors variety pack that had a small bottle of each of these colors. If you're using a larger bottle you'll need to only add .25 oz.

Move the batter from each bowl into three 8-inch round cake pans. Bake for 25 - 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the centers comes out clean.

Remove the cakes from the oven and allow them to completely cool before icing. I recommend refrigerating them for a while, as colder cakes are easier to work with when assembling.

Cream Cheese Icing

While the cakes are baking, make the icing. In one bowl whip together the cream cheese and vanilla extract. In a separate bowl whip the heavy whipping cream and sugar until soft peaks form (about 3 minutes). Add the cream cheese mixture to the whipped cream mixture and whip together until smooth. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Royal Icing

Beat egg white until frothy. Add sugar and beat until well-combined. Add the vanilla extract and salt and beat until smooth. Finally, add 20 drops of black food coloring and mix until color is spread throughout.

Bunny Nose

Add the pink melting chocolate to a saucepan and heat over low heat. Stir the chips as they melt and continue to heat until chocolate reaches a liquid state. Once chocolate becomes a liquid, remove ½ c. of the chocolate from the stove by spoon and stir in the corn syrup. Once the mixture is well-combined it should become more firm. Allow chocolate to cool completely. Once cooled, it's ready to sculpt.

Take a small piece of the chocolate - about 1 tsp. worth - and form into a triangular shape, like that of a cut pink bunny nose.

Bunny Ears

To get the amount of rice crispy treats I needed I had to buy a big 32 oz. sheet. You can get these on Amazon. You won't need all of it. But I cut what was left into bars and dipped them in the remaining candy melt and added sprinkles. They made a nice treat for my office.

Cut two bars of rice crispy treats, both measuring 2" x 8". Insert a skewer into each and mold them into the general shape of a bunny ear. Make sure the treats are packed tight so they maintain structural integrity.

Roll out about a handful of the white fondant until flat and smooth. Cover one of the bunny ears with the fondant, molding as you go to get a smooth white bunny ear. Use a little bit of water to help smooth over the seams. Repeat the process for the other ear.

Take some of the remaining pink melting chocolate you melted previously for the nose. Use a paintbrush or similar tool to brush some of the chocolate onto the center of each ear. Allow the chocolate to dry and harden.

Assembling the Cake

We're ready to assemble the cake! Take the three cakes out of the fridge and slice the tops so they're level. This ensures they will stack well and your cake won't be lopsided.

Stack the cakes, one on top of the other, adding cream cheese icing in between each layer. Then, add a thin layer of cream cheese icing around the entire cake. It doesn't matter how pretty your icing job is because we're coving the cake with fondant. Just add a nice layer but don't worry about how it looks.

Take the remainder of the white fondant and roll it out until flat and smooth. Drape over top of the cake and rub around the edges until smooth. Use some water and your finger to smooth out any seams. You should have a perfectly smooth white cylindrical look at this point.

Dab a bit of the royal icing on the back of the bunny nose and affix to the middle of whatever side of the cake you decide is the front.

Pipe royal icing in the shape of eyes in the appropriate locations above the nose. Do the same for the mouth and whiskers, as shown in the photo below.

Finally, place the bunny ears in the appropriate location on top of the cake. Use the skewers to secure the ears. I decided to use a little bit of the leftover molding chocolate to make a cute little bow too.

Optional: Pipe a little bit of cream cheese icing around the bottom of the cake to make for an adhesive surface and add mini candy eggs around the bottom.