The only thing better than a delicious cake is a delicious cake with a secret rainbow heart (wow!). Or how about this: a cupcake with a mini pie hiding inside (whoa!).
To find out more about how to create these big-reveal treats, we talked to two masters of cake magic: Amanda Rettke, who teaches our Decorating From the Inside Out class, and Megan Seling, founder of the Bake It in a Cake blog and author of Bake It in a Cupcake .
Read on to learn a few of their tricks for hidden treats.
1. Pre-Bake Your Surprise
Whether the hidden element is going to be a cake, cookie or pie, make sure it's fully baked before you use it.
"A lot of people worry that putting something fully baked into a cake will cause it to overcook or burn," Seling says. "But cakes bake from the outside in, so as long as you cover the treat completely with cake batter, it will be protected."
2. Chill Out
Always chill your cakes before you start working, advises Rettke. Whether you'll be cutting out shapes to put inside another cake, or cutting out the middle to fill with treats, a cool cake will be firmer and easier to work with than one that's warm, or even room temp.
3. Start with a Shape-Inside Cake
To get incredible results right out of the gate, try the double-bake method, Rettke says. Prepare a sheet cake, chill it, then use a cookie cutter (a heart, letters or numbers) to cut out shapes. Prepare another cake batter, put a small amount in the bottom of your pan, then place your shapes vertically into the batter and carefully fill with the remaining batter. Bake as directed — and prepare to be amazed when you cut that first slice.
4. Be Careful with Candy
Mini candy bars can be great, especially in cupcakes, but watch out for soft, chewy candies like jelly beans, gummies and Starbursts.
"They just melt into sugar goo and make it so the cake never completely sets," Seling says. "Sometimes they even turn weird baby-poop colors. Gross!" She's even tried freezing and chopping Starbursts before putting them inside a cake — still a no-go.
Both cake artists encourage trying new and even crazy ways to create the element of surprise. You'll have plenty of #fails, but you're also likely to make some awesome discoveries along the way. The key: Stick to small batches.
"When working with a new ingredient, I always bake one or two cupcakes first. That way I can see if my idea worked before committing to a whole batch," Seling says. "That gets expensive — trust me."
Play around with different possibilities and get excited for that incredible moment when people find your hidden surprise — and beg you to tell them how you did it!