I’ve had the idea for this cake since last summer when I was perusing a craft store and found sand molds shaped like dinosaur bones. I immediately knew their purpose, and after I checked the tag for a non-toxic label (yes!) I added it to my basket. I’m not sure why it’s taken so long for my idea to come to fruition, but with Jurassic World’s summer blockbuster status, I figure there’s no better time than the present.
Note to busy parents: this is some of the easiest cake decorating you will do. And, more good news! There are many food-safe dinosaur bone molds available now, aside from this similar (if not identical) sand mold I used. I love these because they are smaller and you could fit more than one type of dinosaur on the cake.
I only used 6 of the ten pieces that came with the sand mold set because all of the pieces wouldn’t fit on top of the cake. A standard package (1 pound) of white almond bark will fill the 6 pieces that I used evenly about 3/4 full. After filling the molds, just place them into the freezer until solid, and then pop them out. After that, you may choose to dry-brush a little cocoa powder on the bones for an aged look. The final step is arranging the candy bones on top of the cake – so easy!
Believe it or not, I had trouble finding a scratch recipe for an 18×12-inch chocolate sheet cake. Most websites I visited had scratch recipes for 13×9-inch pans, and others simply recommend using two boxes of cake mix for an 18×12 inch cake. In the end, I adapted this yellow cake recipe into a chocolate version. I’m really pleased with the texture – moist and tender – and the chocolate-chocolate chip ganache frosting really puts it over the top. You could stop at the ganache frosting for an all-purpose chocolate cake for any occasion (especially when you need to feed a crowd), but for the Dino Dig Cake I added “dirt” on top – that is, one package of pulverized Oreo cookies.
This is a great all-purpose chocolate sheet cake for your recipe box. The candy dinosaur bones and crushed Oreo “dirt” decoration could easily be omitted and replaced with your favorite candies or sprinkles. Enjoy!
Dinosaur Dig Triple Chocolate Sheet Cake
- 18 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
- 3 cups sugar
- 6 large eggs at room temperature
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 3 cups all-purpose flour sifted (I like White Lily soft winter wheat flour)
- 1 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 cup unsweet Dutch-process cocoa powder sifted
- 1 1/2 cups whole milk
Chocolate chip ganache icing
- 24 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter cubed
- 1 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips
- 1 package 14.4 ounce Oreo sandwich cookies
- 1 pound white almond bark or candy coating wafers
- Unsweet cocoa powder
- Choco-rocks optional
- Make the cake: Preheat the oven to 350F. Spray an 18x12x2-inch sheet pan with flour based baking spray, or grease with butter and flour; tap out excess flour.
- Cream the butter and sugar on medium-high speed in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until light and fluffy (about 5 minutes). On medium speed, add the eggs, 2 at a time, then the vanilla. Mix well.
- Sift together the flour, salt, baking soda and cocoa powder. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the flour and whole milk, alternating between the two and beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Mix just until smooth. NOTE: Try to avoid over-mixing here; I ended up with a scant few tunnels in my cake from mixing too much. Scrape down the bowl and mix any pockets of flour or butter you find by hand using a rubber spatula. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick tester comes out clean. Cool in the pan to room temperature.
- Make the icing: Place 24 oz. semisweet chocolate chips and heavy cream in a large microwave-safe bowl. Heat at 100% power at 30 second intervals until the mixture can be whisked smooth (you can also do this on the stove top in a saucepan over medium-low heat). Whisk in the butter; mix until completely melted. Let the mixture stand until cool but still pourable (usually about 15 to 20 minutes). Stir in the mini chips. Pour the icing over the cake and spread evenly with an off-set spatula.
- Make the Dino toppings: Place the Oreo sandwich cookies in the bowl of a food processor and grind until fine; set aside.
- Melt the white almond bark in a medium heat-proof bowl at 100% power in the microwave at 30 second increments (or, in a saucepan on the stovetop over medium-low heat). When the mixture is smooth, fill the dinosaur bone molds about 3/4 full. Place in the freezer until set. Remove the pieces from the molds while they are still frozen (they will pop out easier!). Load a dry paint brush with unsweet cocoa powder and brush the candy bones until they appear aged and weathered.
- Sprinkle half of the pulverized Oreo “dirt” over the surface of the cake and arrange the dinosaur bones on top. Use additional “dirt” to fill in around the bones. Decorate cake slices with choco-rocks, if using.
- Store the cake covered in plastic wrap at room temperature.
Allow kids (of all ages!) to decorate cake slices with choco-rocks.
Cover the dinosaur bones on the cake completely with the “Oreo” dirt, and provide dry pastry brushes for “excavation” of the dinosaur bones.
Buy an extra pound of candy coating and make extra bones; tag them individually with specimen labels “T-Rex Tibia” or “Velociraptor Femur”.