Impaling veggies, cheese cubes and cocktail weenies onto toothpicks for an edible centerpiece certainly soars past retro into the realm of kitsch.
Yet the Astro Weenie Party Tree isn’t a novelty, despite its description in the Los Angeles Times story reprinted in this week’s A la Carte. My Scottish sister-in-law produced a similar monstrosity, using an aluminum foil-clad slab of melon as its base, for a New Year’s bash we threw a few years back.
Party planner Charles Phoenix’s Seven-Layer Soda Pop Rocks Cake, however, deserved its spread in the Times. Maybe I’ve missed too many episodes of “Ace of Cakes” or “Cake Boss” or other cake-themed television, but I’ve never seen anyone produce a snap-crackle-pop frosting with Pop Rocks.
Forget that its layers come from a box and in hues never found in nature. I’d applaud with true admiration this over-the-top dessert’s attendance at any of my parties.
Admit it. You want the recipe.
Seven-Layer Soda Pop Rocks Cake
4 (16.25-ounce) boxes white cake mix (enough for 8 cake layers)
5 cups 7-Up or similar soda, divided, to substitute for water in cake mix
1 1⁄3 cups vegetable oil, divided, or as needed to prepare boxed cake mix
12 egg whites, divided, or as needed to prepare boxed cake mix
Assorted food coloring, as needed
About 20 cups (10 pounds) prepared white frosting
24 packets assorted Pop Rocks
Candy wax soda bottles, for decorating
Skewers, for decorating
Soda straws, for decorating
Prepare the boxed cake mix according to manufacturer instructions, substituting the soda for amount of water given and incorporating vegetable oil and egg whites as instructed (cake-mix ingredients may vary slightly by brand). Divide cake mix among prepared 8- or 9-inch cake pans (you will end up with 1 extra layer of cake not needed for this recipe). Add the food coloring to enhance each of 7 layers separately with bright color: turquoise, pink, yellow, orange, purple, aqua, lime. Bake according manufacturer instructions.
When cake layers are cool, begin assembling the final cake. Place first layer on a cake stand or platter and top with a layer of frosting. Sprinkle over a packet of Pop Rocks. Top with a second layer of cake and repeat until cake is 7 layers. As layers are built, cake will become top-heavy and may start to slide and/or fall; to help stabilize cake, run skewers or cake dowels (available at cake and cooking supply stores) through layers.
Frost outside of layers and sprinkle over remaining Pop Rocks to decorate. (Note: The Pop Rocks will become sticky shortly after package is opened and if handled. To decorate sides, it might be easiest to empty each package onto a sheet of paper, then curl paper and blow Pop Rocks onto side of cake.)
To assemble decorations, place the wax soda bottles on the skewers and cover each skewer with a soda straw. Arrange bottle-topped skewers on top of cake to decorate.
Makes 20 to 30 servings.