🀠 Well partner, now that you have the know-how, it’s high time you set off into the desert to find yourself. 😏 … Find yourself some dessert that is!

(WHAT a difference that one “s” makes, right? It’s the difference between β˜€πŸ₯΅ and πŸ˜‹πŸ¦)

This project is no joke- it’s insane to me that this is level of decoration is humanly possible. Legit, that cake is SO realistic! And what’s even more crazy is that YOU are about to be the human that makes it! 😍 Now, I’m not going to lie to you- it’ll take a lot of effort on your part. And frosting. And piping tips.

But, at the same time, I’m beyond excited to see where your creativity takes you! Well, that, and how closely you were paying attention to those piping tip lessons. πŸ˜… Speaking of piping tips, I have a secret I need to tell you:

I had to buy a new piping tip just to complete this project! I didn’t have a tip that was big enough to make the titular cactus so, I had to grow my collection… (Oh darn. So sad. ☺) I used a Wilton 127 Tip to decorate the central cactus. I also used my Drop Flower Tip (224) and a Small Round Tip too.

I even crafted my own Leaf Tip so it would be big enough for the project. It was really easy. All I did was cut a triangle wedge directly out of my disposable piping bag. Literally, I just recreated the same shape as my small leaf tip, on a larger scale, as part of my piping bag. Super simple and highly effective.

You’re also going to need to play with color. 🌈 Lots and lots of colors.

I went through a lot of gel food dye to make all those pretty colors. It was totally worth it. But you’ll need a variety of food coloring on hand to get the same range of colors that I used. Just FYI.

But ultimately, this project is all about you having fun with frosting! So get in your kitchen and do that!

Get ready, get set, FROST!

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Succulent Cactus Cake 🌡


This ode to the desert is an awesome opportunity to celebrate frosting. The cake is wrapped in a terracotta colored frosting, so the entire cake looks like it’s a potted plant. And everything on top is where the magic happens. Let your imagination run wild or look up references of real desert succulents to replicate.


Units Scale

For Cactus Cake:

  • Box Cake Mix, in the flavor of your choice
  • Buttercream frosting recipe, multiplied
  • Green Gel Food Coloring
  • Blue Gel Food Coloring
  • Yellow Gel Food Coloring
  • Pink Gel Food Coloring
  • Piping Nail, for decorating

For Buttercream Frosting:

  • 1 c Unsalted Butter
  • 1/4 tsp Salt, to taste
  • 1 lb Confectioners’ Sugar
  • 3 tbsp Milk or Heavy Cream
  • 1 tbsp Vanilla


For Cactus Cake:

  1. Follow the directions on the back of the box to prepare the cake batter.
  2. Pour the cake batter into two lined cupcake wells. Divide remaining batter between three greased 8 inch cake pans.
  3. Bake as directed by the box mix’s directions. Allow to cool fully. Set cupcakes aside.
  4. Level both cake layers and place one cake layer on a serving platter. Spread frosting over the topΒ  and place the second layer on top. Repeat for the third layer.
  5. Dye a large portion of your frosting terracotta color. Use it to frost both the top and sides of your cake.
  6. Dye some of your frosting a dark green for your cactus.
  7. Level the domed top off of one of the cupcakes. Frost the leveled cupcake with green frosting. Place the second cupcake, with the dome still intact, on top. Apply a crumb coat of green frosting to your tiered cupcake. Allow to set.
  8. Once your tiered cupcake has solidified, place it on top of your cake. Pipe the green frosting with a Wilton 127 tip, creating ridges that come to a crisp, sharp point.
  9. Using a small round tip, pipe small white dots at random along that crisp point of the cactus.
  10. On a small piece of parchment paper, use a petal tip to create a small pink flower that will sit in the center of the cactus. Allow the frosting to set, then carefully transfer the flower to the top of the cactus. Adhere with a small dab of fresh frosting. With the flower in place, add a second ring to the pink flower. Pipe in a few yellow dots to the center of the flower.
  11. Smear a dab of fresh frosting onto a piping nail. Attach a small piece of parchment paper to the now sticky head of the nail. Using the 127 Tip from earlier (cleaned and dried in the interim) pipe a soft green frosting to create a succulent. Succulents have blunt, rounded edges to them. So you’ll want to hold the bag so that the open part of the piping tip faces the center of the parchment paper. Start piping in the center of the parchment paper and, with a sweeping motion in your wrist, create a rainbow shape with the frosting. Repeat until you have a layer of leaves you’re happy with. Then add another layer on top. Allow your succulent to set before transferring your creation to the top of your cake.
  12. Using the piping nail again, pipe a teal, spiky succulent using a large leaf tip. Pipe a ring of pointy leaves in a circle. Then layer upwards until you finish with a cluster of two or three vertical points in the center. Allow to set fully before transferring and adhering to your cake.
  13. Use a small round tip to create small vines running down the sides of your cake. Create green dots at random along the vine to add leaves. If desired, pipe in some pink flowers along your vine with a drop flower tip.
  14. Repeat adding greenery to the top of your cake until you’re happy with your finished cake.
  15. If desired, tint some frosting brown and fill in any exposed terracotta colored in between your succulents with “dirt.”

Buttercream Frosting Recipe:

  1. Beat the butter and salt together until smooth.
  2. Gradually add the confectioners’ sugar. Add in the vanilla and milk.
  3. Adjust the consistency by adding more milk or more confectioners’ sugar as desired.


Thanks to Leslie Vigil for the decoration inspiration!

Thanks to Preppy Kitchen for the Buttercream Frosting Recipe!

And don’t forget!

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