This Grinch Cake is a totally fun and festive dessert for Christmas–and it starts with a doctored up cake mix so it’s not even difficult to make!
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Hello hello! How are you? Are you decking your halls and feeling holly jolly?
I sort of am. But I’ve been listening to Robert Downey Jr. sing “River” on repeat (Ally McBeal Christmas album is THE BEST) and I have to say it’s beautiful but um, Joni Mitchell writes depressing songs. And also it’s not actually a Christmas song, just something on a Christmas album so there’s that too.
Don’t worry though! I’m going to switch to NKOTB Christmas here soon so I’ll get myself back in the sprit.
And eating a slice of Grinch Cake will certainly help the situation. Side note: we’re talking the Grinch after his heart grew three sizes, not before. So it’s super-Christmas-y.
Why you’ll love this Grinch Cake
- The cake layers are a doctored up cake mix so that part is EASY
- You don’t need special equipment to make this cake—just cake pans, a hand mixer, a rolling pin, and a cookie cutter
- Store-bought fondant makes the heart decorations a breeze!
How to Make Your Grinch Cake
Combine white cake mix, flour, sugar, sour cream, water, vegetable oil, egg whites, and vanilla in a large mixing bowl.
Yes—flour, sugar, and vanilla! Those three ingredients help make the cake taste more like it’s made from scratch. I used clear vanilla extract to make sure my cake layers were extra white but you can use regular.
Beat with an electric mixer for about 2 minutes, until the batter is smooth, then use a rubber spatula to scrape up from the bottom and get everything totally mixed together.
Divide the batter between two 8-inch round cake pans lined with parchment and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, then cool completely before frosting and decorating your grinch cake.
Be sure your cake pans are at least 2 inches high because these cake layers rise quite a bit. I used these cake pans and they worked perfectly.
How to Make Vanilla Buttercream
First, just know that you don’t have to stick with vanilla—you can add a little peppermint extract (or lemon—go crazy!) if you want to mix things up a bit.
Beat room temperature butter with an electric mixer until very creamy. Add powdered sugar, milk, salt, and vanilla extract (I used clear vanilla again) and beat until smooth. Then add green gel food coloring to achieve your desired color.
I strongly recommend using gel rather than liquid so you can get a nice, vibrant green without using a ton of food coloring, but if liquid is all you have then it’s fine.
Frost your cake like normal—spread some frosting on top of one cake layer, top with the second, and use the remainder to frost the outside of the cake. Use an icing smoother or offset spatula to create a smooth surface for your fondant hearts.
How to Decorate Your Grinch Cake
Use a rolling pin to roll store-bought red fondant into a even, thin layer (about 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick). Dust the fondant with a little powdered sugar if necessary to keep it from sticking to the rolling pin.
Use a small, sharp heart-shaped cookie cutter to cut out hearts—my cookie cutter was 1 and 1/4 inches tall. After you cut out each heart, remove the fondant from around the heart rather than attempting to lift the heart out from inside the fondant. Carefully transfer the hearts to the cake and gently press them into the sides.
Baker’s tip: If you can’t lift the hearts off your work surface without stretching them, leave the cookie cutter around the heart and work a small offset spatula under the fondant, then lift both the fondant and the cookie cutter up. Gently remove the cookie cutter and your heart should stay the right shape.
If a Grinch cake doesn’t get you in the holiday spirit then I don’t know what will. Now who wants a slice? I’m on my third for the week and I’m a little concerned I’ll turn green if I keep going. . .send help!
Did you make this Grinch cake? That’s great! Take a pic and post it over on Instagram–tag @theitsybitsykitchen so I can see your gorgeous creations!
This Grinch cake is a fun and festive addition to any Christmas party!
- 1 15.25-ounce box white cake mix
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup full-fat sour cream
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 4 large egg whites
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract use clear if you have it
- red fondant
- sprinkles optional
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray 2 (8-inch) round cake pans with cooking spray. Be sure your pans are at least 2 inches tall, because the cake layers rise quite a bit. Line the bottom of the pans with parchment paper, then spray the paper with more cooking spray. Set pans aside.
Combine the cake mix, flour, sugar, sour cream, water, vegetable oil, egg whites, and vanilla extract in a large mixing bowl.
Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed for 2 minutes—batter should be very smooth. Use a rubber spatula to scrape up from the bottom and get everything totally mixed together.
Divide cake batter between the prepared pans and bake cake layers 43 to 48 minutes, until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean.
Cool cake layers for 20 minutes in pans, then run a knife around the edge of the pans and carefully invert onto a wire rack to cool completely before assembling your cake.
Place the butter in a large mixing bowl and beat until very smooth, about 1 minute. With mixer set to low, gradually beat in 4 1/2 cups of the powdered sugar. Add 4 tablespoons of the milk and the vanilla and salt.
Turn mixer to medium speed and beat until frosting is very smooth. If frosting is too thin, add additional powdered sugar; it it’s too thick add additional milk. Add green gel food coloring and mix to combine.
Use a long serrated to trim your cooled cake layers if they’ve domed.
Place one cake layer on a cake stand or cardboard cake circle and spread with a thick layer of frosting. Top with a second layer and frost the cake with the remaining frosting.
Use a rolling pin to roll the fondant into a even, thin layer (about 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick). Dust the fondant with a little powdered sugar if necessary to keep it from sticking to the rolling pin.
Use a sharp heart-shaped cookie cutter to cut out hearts. Carefully transfer the hearts to the cake and gently press them into the side of the cake.
Top the cake with sprinkles, if desired, and serve.
Tips for working with fondant
- After you cut out each heart, remove the fondant from around the heart rather than attempting to lift the heart out from inside the fondant.
- If you can’t lift the hearts off your work surface without stretching them, leave the cookie cutter around the heart and work a small offset spatula under the fondant, then lift both the fondant and the cookie cutter up. Gently remove the cookie cutter and your heart should stay the right shape.
Inspired by these Grinch’s Heart Cookies from In Katrina’s Kitchen