Mini Potted Cactus Cakes

I'm the sort of person that buys a savarin pan with the aim to use it as intended, which is to make a French savarin cake, but somewhere along the way my brain goes on recess. It chalk-draws on pavement and plays hopscotch. Savarin suddenly seems sooooo boring (because holy cow - this pan totally looks like a giant donut!) and so the Savarin cake has to wait because the Triple Stack Donut Cake feels 900% more fun.

True to form, this has happened again. I had every intention to make cannelés when I bought a cannelé pan, but hey! Let's make cute cactus cakes instead.

If you squint your eyes and use your imagination, the ridges in the pan's cavities lend themselves to a cactus shape. The cannelé portion of this 'cake' is made of a mixture of pulverized Oreo cookies and cream cheese (of Oreo truffle fame!). The mixture is pressed into the cavities of the pan and then chilled in the freezer until firm. When solid, the forms can be popped out of the silicone pan easily.

While the cakes are still cold, cover them in simple milk glaze tinted green. I used moss green gel food color. Be aware that as the glaze sets, the color will darken. If I make these again I would go a shade lighter or use less food color.

The second portion of this dessert is a chocolate cupcake that gets 'potted' in a little planter. I found and purchased these geometric planters (you'll need 6 total) that were just the right size to hold a standard-size cupcake. Small terra cotta pots could also be used and can easily be found at home improvement stores.

I opted for a simple smear of chocolate spread on top of the cupcakes and then added the 'cactus'. How funny are those white sprinkles for 'cactus spines'? Yeah, I'm not fooling anyone with those! Even though the effect isn't very realistic, it's still pretty cute and hopefully you know what they imply.

I sprinkled some cacao nibs around the cactus, which I think makes a cute stand-in for gravel-y soil. I suggest serving these desserts at room temperature, because the top cookie portion becomes soft and cake-like.

I made little cactus flowers with pink fondant and a fondant plunger cutter (the smallest one here!). A sugar pearl pressed in the center of two stacked cut-outs makes a quick flower decor. Brush the underside of the flowers with water and then place them on top of the cacti. If you're not inclined to make the flowers you can leave them off, or use ready-made flowers like these!

These cakes are fun and cute, but they are also totally delicious and deeply chocolaty. This recipe makes exactly six cactus cakes, and the small batch chocolate cupcake recipe is worth a save on its own.

How cute and funny would these be at each place setting at a garden party? Too much!

Mini Potted Cactus Cakes
Yields 6 cakes

A silicone canelé mold is needed for this recipe. You’ll also need 6 small pots to ‘plant’ your cactus in, and you can find links to the ones I used in the blog post.

Cookie mixture for cannelé molds
1 package (14.3 ounce) crème-filled chocolate cookies (Oreos)
8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature

2 cups (227g) powdered sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
Milk or cream to thin
1/8 teaspoon moss green gel food color
White sprinkles (jimmies)

1 egg
3 tablespoons milk
2 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup (60 ml) hot coffee
1/2 cup (60g) all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
1/4 cup (22g) unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt

Make the cookie mixture: Pulverize the cookies to fine crumbs in a food processor. Combine the crumbs with the cream cheese in a large bowl and knead together with your hands (this will be messy – consider using food service gloves). Lay the silicone canelé pan on a baking sheet. Press the cookie mixture into the cavities tightly until overflowing. Use a knife to cut away the excess cookie mixture, creating a flat even surface. Freeze until solid, about 1 hour. Remove from molds and place on a wire rack. Place the wire rack on top of a large baking sheet.

Make the glaze: Combine the powdered sugar and corn syrup in a medium bowl. Add milk 1 tablespoon at a time until a thick glaze is formed. Add food color; mix. Add additional milk until the mixture is thick but still pourable. Use a spoon to cover the cookie shapes with the glaze. Let stand until the excess glaze has run off the sides and then sprinkle with white jimmies. Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.

Make the cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350°F.
Place 6 cupcake liners in a muffin pan.
Combine the egg, milk, vegetable oil, vanilla and coffee in a large glass measure with a pour spout. Stir together well.
In a separate large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until incorporated.
Divide the batter evenly between cupcake liners. Bake for 13-15 minutes, or until the tops spring back when you touch them. Let cool completely.

6 small pots
3/4 cup (220g) ready-made chocolate spread
3 tablespoons cocoa nibs
Fondant flowers (per blog post instructions)

Cut the domes off of the cupcakes and save for later (or eat them now). Place a cupcake in each pot and cover with 2 tablespoons chocolate spread. Place the green cactus portion on top, pressing it into the cupcake slightly. Sprinkle cacao nibs around the edges of the cactus portion where the chocolate spread is exposed. Top each cactus with a fondant or ready-made flower.

Keep desserts chilled and bring to room temperature before serving.

link Mini Potted Cactus Cakes By Published: Mini Potted Cactus Cakes Recipe


  1. Oh these are just darling! Not sure if I'd be getting a special pan for them, but maybe one could hand-shape cacti from the oreo mixture like cake pops.

    The cupcake recipe seems to be missing a step. I assume I pour all the liquid ingredients into the flour mixture and mix until combined?

  2. These are too cute!

  3. So cute! My 7 year old here with me thinks they are cute too! Love the tiny cactus cakes. :-)

  4. These are amazingly cute :) I think the color is just right.
    By the way, I didn't think you could make canneles in a silicone pan. Let us know how that works out!

  5. These mini cactus cakes are soo adorabe! What a great idea! :)

  6. Hey Heather,
    Just wanted to reach out to say “thanks” for all the stuff you’ve been publishing lately at blog.
    I actually tried this recipe you recommended and it was delicious.
    Keep up The awesome work 🙂

    1. Thank you Kristen! I'm so glad you liked the recipe! -xo

  7. Gorgeous!!! I really need cake now lol

    Amy | www.yankified.com

  8. Adorable!!! I'm totally making these asap!

  9. How fun and creative! Such a great way to add charm to sweet treats!


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