It’s a big day for Saturday Snacks: it’s our 100th Disney snack recipe! It’s crazy to think about because what this article series started out as is so very different than what it became. And it’s been a beautiful adventure every step of the way. Well, except for the time when I made THE SNACK WHO SHALL NOT BE NAMED. That wasn’t the most beautiful adventure. I digress.
Saturday Snacks was supposed to be an article series where I went to the Disney parks and resorts and tried snacks and told y’all about them. Simple. And then the unimaginable happened: a global pandemic hit. The parks closed and there were no snacks to be eaten and reviewed. So I turned to the Disney cookbooks that I had on hand and recipes that had been released online, and decided that you and I would make the snacks instead. Our first snack was a Ratatouille-inspired French baguette, and we were off to the races. Getting to make the Disney recipes and share my thoughts with you each week was a way to stay connected to the magic. Who knew that me making snacks in my kitchen would last for over two years and have us making 100 snacks?! I certainly didn’t. But I’m so thankful for it.
Not only is today’s snack our 100th, it will also be our last. You know the peace that comes when you just know it’s time for another chapter? Yep, that’s what I’m feeling right now. But that doesn’t mean that I’m stepping away from Saturday Snacks skipping and jumping; I cried as I began to make this weekend’s snack. Knowing it would be the last has left me emotional. Even though I know it’s time, it’s a bittersweet moment. I needed Saturday Snacks. And I needed the connection with you, the reader. I simply can’t thank you enough for reading along, even if you’ve only read one or two here and there. You are a part of the Saturday Snacks family, no matter how long you’ve sat at this virtual kitchen table. And, of course, I’ve thought this week about all of the recipes that I haven’t made, so you never know. I may pop back in from time to time if the right recipe pops up.
But today’s recipe? Well, it had to be fit for a celebration. One hundred recipes is nothing to sneeze at. You and I have gotten into all sorts of trouble in the kitchen making these Disney snacks, so it only made sense that we would invite a little trouble into the mix for today. A celebration + a little trouble = the Disney Villains: Devilishly Delicious Cookbook’s Unbirthday Cake. It would be just the thing.
The Unbirthday Cake is a classic Red Velvet cake. If you’ve never had a Red Velvet, let me just say that it tastes just like its name, if that makes sense. It’s glorious. Part cocoa, part buttermilk, with a bit of red food coloring thrown in for good measure. Years ago, a sweet team of people at church made me a Red Velvet cake for my birthday. That cake was simply amazing, and I was sold. So when I thought about which snack might be fitting for today, it had to be the Red Velvet Unbirthday Cake.
You know that one of the tenets I’ve tried to stick to for Saturday Snacks is that you and I aren’t hunting down a bunch of crazy ingredients (many apologies for the list o’things that we needed 2 weeks ago for California Grill’s yummy Plant-Based Lavender Sugar Donuts...but they were soooo good). The Unbirthday Cake will have us needing a cup of buttermilk, a tablespoon of red food coloring, and 2 blocks of cream cheese (hold onto your hat when you taste the cream cheese icing we’re gonna make…it’s divine).
The recipe also calls for us to use black fondant to create a heart, spade, club and diamond (the cake is themed to the Queen of Hearts), and red sugar roses. Jo-Ann Fabrics was out of black fondant, so I picked up a sheet of black sugar which you and I could theoretically cut into the necessary shapes. Except it’s slightly impossible. I made several attempts and then decided our cake didn’t need the shapes. The red roses were in Jo-Ann’s cake decorating aisle, and they looked to be the exact ones used in the cookbook. Score! But you do you for whatever tops your cake: leave it naked if you’d like.
Our first steps in getting the cake started is to preheat the oven to 350 degrees and place 2 sticks of butter and 2 blocks of cream cheese on the counter. You’re going to need them at room temp in just a bit, and the longer they have on the counter, the better.
In the bowl of a stand mixer (or a large bowl if you’re using a hand mixer), pour in 1 cup of vegetable oil, 3 large eggs, 1 cup of buttermilk, 1 tablespoon of red food coloring (I had just under that on hand, but it worked), 1 teaspoon of white vinegar, and 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract. Run the mixer on low to slosh things around and get them combined.
It’s now time to add the dry ingredients. Into the bowl add 2 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour, 1 1 /2 cups of sugar, 1 teaspoon of both baking soda and salt, and 1 tablespoon of cocoa powder. Start the mixer on low to combine, and then run it on medium for 2 minutes.
Be sure to stop and scrape down the sides of your bowl. No ingredients left behind.
I next took two 9-inch cake pans and gave them a nice coating of nonstick cooking spray.
I then poured the cake batter into the two pans, dividing the batter as evenly as I could.
The recipe asks that we tap the cake pans on the counter in order to remove as many bubbles as possible. A gentle tap didn’t work; I had to really bang them on the counter to get the bubbles to disappear, and even then some of them remained.
I initially set the timer for 25 minutes thinking that perhaps they would be done at that point, but they definitely needed a just a bit longer. In fact, I ended up leaving them in for the full 28 minutes by the time everything was said and done, and, after seeing the results, I really could’ve backed off a minute or so. You just want to make sure to insert a knife into the center of each of the cakes and have that knife come out clean.
When the cakes emerged from the oven, I set them on the stove to cool for a few minutes and then inverted them out of the pans to cool completely on a wire rack.
While the cakes were cooling, I turned my attention to the cream cheese icing. Oh this icing. It’s the belle of the ball.
I stopped and washed the bowl and mixing attachment and then tossed in the 2 softened blocks of cream cheese, 2 sticks of butter, 1 teaspoon of vanilla, and 4 cups of powdered sugar.
And forgive me but I must have lost my mind at this moment because I started up the mixer and there was, you guessed it, powdered sugar everywhere. What would the last Saturday Snacks recipe be without a snowfall of powdered sugar covering my counter? Sigh.
Once the powdered sugar had begun combining with the other ingredients, I cranked the mixer speed up to medium-high and let it run for four minutes until that icing got nice and smooth. Note: please taste it at this point. It would be a crime not to.
I popped the icing into the fridge to cool (and scrubbed my counters), and turned my attention to the cake layers. It was time to level them off with a serrated knife, and I just didn’t want to let too much of that cake go. I took less of the cake off than I probably should have, but I tried to make it work as best I could. And the end result was something that I was really happy with, so no harm, no foul. The recipe instructs us to discard the cake scraps. And by discard, please by all means shove a few of them into your mouth.
I placed the first layer of cake on an upside down plate, cut side up. The underside of the plate was flatter and more supportive for the cake than the right side of it was, and I wanted it just a bit elevated, so flipping the plate over made sense to me.
I gently placed mounds of icing across the top of the first layer and used an offset spatula to spread it.
On top of that layer of icing, I placed the second layer of cake, cut side down.
I covered the top of the cake and the sides of the cake as best I could with that amazing cream cheese icing. And here’s one of the really cool things about this recipe: there was plenty of icing. I think we’ve all made cakes where there just isn’t enough icing to go around. That is definitely not the case here. We are going out on a bang, and there’s plenty of icing to cover that entire cake with a generous layer.
This is the point at which I realized that the recipe calls for milk chocolate chips. Whoops. I bought semi-sweet chocolate chips, focusing on the size of the chips rather than the variety. You see, the recipe calls for regular chocolate chips while the chocolate chips on the cake in the cookbook’s picture appear to be the mini variety. Nevertheless, I persisted.
I began to press the mini chocolate chips into the sides of the cake, and using a spatula to do so proved to be the easiest and most effective way. I loaded up the back of the spatula with a bunch of mini chocolate chips and pressed them into the side of the cake and just kept going until everything was as covered as I could get it.
I popped the entire cake into the refrigerator to cool and set for 30 minutes.
After the cake was completely set, I pulled it out of the refrigerator and placed the sugar red roses on top where I thought they look best. Et voilà. A masterpiece, in my humble opinion. Ha ha.
But seriously, that cake? So good. The icing, of course, is the stand out, but you can’t pair just any old cake with that beautiful, rich cream cheese icing. Yes, cream cheese icing and carrot cake go together beautifully, but so does a Red Velvet cake. The lightly cocoa flavor balanced beautifully with all that wonderful icing.
I served myself a huge piece and stood back to enjoy the beauty that lay before me. Yes, black fondant playing card fondant pieces would look cute on top, but I didn’t miss them. The added texture of the mini chocolate chips was a delightful addition, and I was super glad that they were a part of the recipe. Did I mind that they were semi-sweet? Nope.
I shared my piece with my husband when he got home from work and we both savored every bite. And I took the cake to the studio the next day and shared it with the team. It seemed like the perfect thing to do with the last Saturday Snacks recipe.
Friends? Thank you. This ride has been a sweet one. Thank you for sharing your time, and for every comment and kind word shared along the way. Saturday Snacks wouldn’t have been the same without you.
Many thanks also to my sweet hubby. He’s the best taste-tester in the world. And he was also the best at calming me down when recipes weren’t going perfectly. I’m so grateful for him.
Whatever you have going on this weekend, I hope that it’s just like this cake: rich, rewarding, and sweet. May it be everything you hope for and more. You deserve nothing less.
Ready to whip up the most amazing cake? The Queen of Hearts’ Unbirthday Cake recipe is below:
PREP TIME: 30 MINUTES | COOK TIME: 30 MINUTES | YIELD: 12 SERVINGS
When the Mad Hatter is called to testify in the trial against Alice, he reports that he has spent the day having tea. “Today, you know, is my unbirthday,” he explains.
“Why, my dear, today is your unbirthday too!” the King of Hearts says to his wife. “It is?” the Queen of Hearts responds. Then the whole courtroom erupts in a round of “A Very Merry Unbirthday to You” for the Queen and presents her with a cake, distracting her, for the moment, from beheadings.
This rich red velvet cake, crowned with roses and symbols for playing card suits, is suitable for a queen, a birthday, unbirthday, or any occasion.
FOR THE CAKE
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 3 large eggs
- 1 tablespoon red food coloring
- 1 teaspoon white vinegar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1½ cups sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
- Nonstick cooking spray
FOR THE FROSTING
- 1 pound cream cheese, at room temperature
- 4 cups confectioners sugar
- 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
FOR THE DECORATIONS
- 1½ cups milk chocolate chips
- 2 ounces black fondant
- Premade red icing roses
Prepare the cake. Preheat oven to 350°F. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the vegetable oil, buttermilk, eggs, food coloring, vinegar, and vanilla. Mix until combined. Add the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder. Beat on medium for 2 minutes, until smooth.
Spray two 9-inch round cake pans with cooking spray. Divide the batter evenly between the pans, then tap them on the counter to remove bubbles from the batter. Bake until a knife inserted in the center of each cake comes out clean, about 28 minutes.
Remove from oven, and let cool briefly in pans. Then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
While cakes cool, prepare the frosting. Combine all ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer, and beat on medium-high until smooth, about 4 minutes. Chill until ready to use.
When the cakes are completely cooled, level the tops with a serrated
knife to flatten. Discard cake scraps. Place one cake, cut side up, on a
serving platter. Spread a generous layer of frosting on the top, then add
the second cake, cut side down. Spread remaining frosting on top and
sides of cake until smooth. Press chocolate chips evenly into the sides of
the cake. Refrigerate 30 minutes to set.
While cake is chilling, prepare the fondant playing card suits. Roll out the
fondant into a thin layer, at most ¼-inch thickness. Using a sharp paring
knife, cut out a heart, club, spade, and diamond. Carefully add them to
the top of the cake, then add pre-made red icing roses.