10 Sep First-Grade Lunchbox Cake (Funfetti PB&J + Gummy Bears & Chocolate-Covered Potato Chips!)
They say that a human’s taste buds change every seven years. Well, I don’t know who they are, but if they had done some light Googling, as I did, this seems to be a claim backed only by the strength of its rumor rather than by scientific evidence. (Tell me you’ve also heard that, yah?)
Admittedly, I only navigated about two pages deep into the search results, and then lost interest fairly quickly when all of the returned articles started to site mitosis and the general decline in sensory acuteness as we age. So, whether or not there is some cellular magic that takes place periodically that affects the regeneration of our taste buds, and therefore our preferences in food, I cannot tell you with confidence. Though my search did yield this article from Bon Appetit (much more my speed) which did support my (painfully obvious) hypothesis that, as we mature, so do our taste buds. Instead of simple sugars, we (well, some of us) begin to crave more complex flavors — bitter vegetables, hoppy beers, tannic red wines, and stinky cheese. While this little blog may indicate otherwise, I think my taste buds just might be growing up.
In recent years, months even for some foods, I’ve adopted frequent cravings for the abhorred foods of my past, including the vegetable of my childhood nightmares — broccoli — now eaten several times a week. I’ve made the transition from preferring light, watered-down beer to hoppy microbrews and from sweet, mass-produced milk chocolate to bitter, high-quality dark chocolate. Some may suggest this is an indication that I’ve finally learned to appreciate great food, which is likely the truth, but my recent IPA hankerings got me thinking on the subject.
You might be wondering, Katie, what does this have to do with a cake covered in gummy bears? Well, not much, except one might find themselves assuming that this gradual transition from orange-dyed Cheeto fingers to artisan cheese boards might bode poorly for this here sugar-laden cake (and this one and this one). And that would make perfect sense. It should be truth. But, nope.
The point is, no matter how grown up these taste buds of mine may be, I will forever possess a shameless love for any kind of dessert that evokes a sense of nostalgia for my 1990s childhood, and this cake is no exception. And since all the kiddos are heading back to school, there seemed no better time than now to present you all with a cake that embodies exactly what we all wished our mothers would have packed in our lunchboxes as kids (thank goodness we didn’t get our way). Though, if I were slightly more accurate in building this cake according to my 1994 tastebuds, there would be a helluva lot more Fruit by the Foot, probably a few Nacho Cheese Doritos, and zero buttercream (another taste acquired later in life). But cakes require buttercream and who’s keeping me honest, anyway?
With that, I give you what is perhaps my most outrageously delicious, 27-going-on-7-year-old-me-inspired creation yet — The First-Grade Lunchbox Cake. This baby is three layers of rainbow-speckled vanilla cake, sandwiching two layers peanut butter and jelly filling, covered in a good smearing of fluffy vanilla buttercream and garnished with gummy bears and chocolate-covered potato chips. OMG.
Seriously though, THIS CAKE. What was I even thinking?
Probably that PB&J, gummy bears, and rainbow sprinkles are three things I’ll never grow out of. I envision that someday I’ll find myself sitting in my wheel chair, mumbling curses at whoever put grape jelly on my PB&J, and then sitting down to an “early bird” 4PM dinner consisting of some sort of Ensure milkshake (with sprinkles) and the mountain of gummy bears I’ve stashed in my old lady crystal candy dish. And when they ask me how I lived to be 100? Obvi.
A FEW NOTES ABOUT THIS RECIPE:
The original funfetti cake recipe is for a two-layer cake. I chose to make mine three layers, and if you do the same you’ll need to reduce the baking time to about 17-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. I would start checking for doneness around 15 minutes, just to be safe.
For the chocolate covered-potato chips, you can either buy a store-bought version or make your own. To make your own melt 2 oz. of dark chocolate OR chocolate candy bark and then dip 10-12 potato chips, covering each about half way. Place the chips on a drying rack until chocolate is firm. To speed up the process, place the drying rack in the refrigerator.
If you’re looking to hone your cake decorating skills, check out this awesome tutorial by Tessa of Sweet Style CA, then stay a while to check out her GORGEOUS cakes. Girl’s got skillz!
- 1 recipe Molly Yeh's Funfetti Cake via Food52 (see notes)
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1/2 cup cream peanut butter
- 2/3 cups confectioners' sugar
- 2 cups (4 sticks) butter, at room temperature
- 1 tablespoon clear imitation vanilla
- 3 tablespoons milk or cream
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- jelly, flavor of your choosing (I used blackberry)
- chocolate covered potato chips (see notes)
- gummy bears
- Prepare the cake according to http://food52.com/recipes/30792-funfetti-cake, splitting out into three layers, if desired. Level and set aside to cool.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream the butter and peanut butter until smooth. Add the confectioners' sugar, beat on low until combined, then turn up the speed to medium-high for 3-4 minutes until fluffy.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, whip butter on medium-high for about 1 minute. Add the powdered sugar, mix on low until incorporated, then turn the mixer up to high and beat for about 2 minutes.
- Add the milk and vanilla, mix on low again until incorporated, then turn mixer to high and beat for 4-5 minutes or until frosting is very fluffy.
- If desired, level your cakes to remove domed tops and create a more even, professional-looking cake.
- Place one layer of cake on a cardboard round and top with 1/2 of the peanut butter filling and spread in an even layer. Top with a few tablespoons of jelly and spread over the peanut butter filling. Add the second layer of cake and repeat with the second half of the peanut butter filling and jelly.
- Add the top and final layer to the cake, then frost the cake with a very thin crumb coat layer of icing. This will prevent any cake crumbs from getting into the final, smooth layer. Place in the fridge for 15-30 minutes to allow the icing to firm up.
- Use the remaining buttercream to frost the sides and top of the cake, using an offset spatula to get the sides as smooth as possible.
- To garnish, pipe small swirls around the top of the cake and press a chocolate-covered potato chip into each. Line the bottom edge of the cake with gummy bears OR get creative and add your own flair to the cake!
- Cake is best eaten the day of assembly but will last up to 2 days in an airtight container.