One Big Taco Cake!

This cake came about after a friend asked me to make a Taco Bell cake for her husband's birthday. I thought that was just the cutest idea ever, so I set out to find examples of what a Taco Bell cake might look like. After an online search - wow! Turns out Taco Bell cakes are totally a thing! I gathered some ideas and came up with something I felt was appropriate to feed a crowd of 50, which was a two-tier cake with two small candy taco supremes on top and the bell part of the Taco Bell logo.

After the birthday party was over and the cake was long gone, I immediately wanted to do a Taco Cake 2.0. I had figured out how to make a pretty near likeness to taco shells using white chocolate and oreo cookie crumbs with the previous cake, so there was only one thing left to do. Make One Big Taco Cake (OBTC, as I've been calling it). This cake recipe has several steps but most of them are relatively quick to manage. It's a fun project and not at all difficult!

One element I used in both cakes was Mexican chocolate ganache. It was a filling for the birthday cake and for OBTC I used it as cake frosting. It's so delicious and just adds to the fun theme. You could use any combination of chocolate you like, but my combination of Taza guajillo chili, cinnamon, and Lindt chili chocolates was crazy delicious! One note if you use Taza discs - this is stone ground chocolate (mostly used as a tasting chocolate) so the ganache may look grainy - this is normal so don't fret!

The white chocolate taco shell is quite flexible after a few minutes at room temperature. 

Candy 'shredded cheese' (ha!). This is made with orange and yellow meltable candy disks.

Dressing the taco! Aside from the shell, I think the cheese is my favorite part! 

The cake portion is fashioned from a single 8-inch dark chocolate layer that is trimmed to fit inside the white chocolate shell. This cake will feed about 8 people, so if you're expecting a larger crowd you may want to double the recipe and make a couple of OBTC's!

Be sure to check out the video tutorial. I feel like it will be immensely helpful for those interested in making their own OBTC.

One Big Taco Cake! (OBTC)
About 8 servings

Make the ganache first because it needs to firm in the refrigerator before being used as frosting for the cake. You can use any combination of chili-flavored or Mexican stone-ground chocolate you like. I listed the amounts, flavors and brands that I used in this OBTC.

Mexican chocolate ganache
1.35 ounce disc Taza Cinnamon Chocolate, chopped
1.35 ounce disc Taza Guajillo Chili Chocolate, chopped
7 ounces (2 bars) Lindt Chili dark chocolate, chopped
1 cup (240 ml) heavy cream

In a small saucepan, heat the heavy cream over medium-high heat until steaming but not boiling. Pour the hot cream over the chopped chocolate and let stand 1 minute. Whisk the mixture slowly until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth. Transfer the ganache to a shallow baking pan and refrigerate for about 1 hour, stirring intermittently until the mixture is thick and spreadable like cake frosting.

Chocolate cake
1 cup (120g) all-purpose flour
1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
1/4 cup (21g) unsweetened dark cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (180 ml) milk
1/4 cup (60 ml)vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
Flour-based baking spray for pan

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray an 8-inch round cake pan with flour-based baking spray (or grease and flour pan).

Combine first six ingredients in bowl; add milk, oil and vanilla. Using an electric mixer, beat on low speed until combined, then beat on medium for 2 minutes. Add egg and beat two more minutes.

Pour into the prepared pan. Bake 25 to 30 minutes (or until toothpick inserted near center comes out clean). Remove from pan and cool thoroughly on a wire rack. Cut the cake in half and fold up so that the two halves form a half circle (or a taco shape!). Trim the top and sides of the cake so that it’s about 3 inches wide by 6 inches in length (see video). Crumble the cake scraps onto a plate and cover with plastic wrap; reserve for later use.

White chocolate taco shell
1/3 cup (105g) dark corn syrup
Yellow and orange gel food color
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon chocolate cookie crumbs (I used a crushed Oreo cookie – no cream)
10 ounces white chocolate (I used Cacao Barry Blanc Satin Pistoles)

Spread a large piece of parchment paper over a large work surface.
Pour the corn syrup in a medium bowl and add yellow food color a little at a time until a bright hue is achieved. Add a small dab of orange food color (less than 1/8 teaspoon). Add a pinch of chocolate cookie crumbs to the syrup – it doesn’t take much here so be conserative!

Melt white chocolate in a double boiler or in the microwave at 30 second intervals. Pour the melted chocolate into the syrup and stir quickly. When the mixture thickens pour it out onto the parchment paper and knead a few times until the syrup and white chocolate are thoroughly combined. Top the candy with a second piece of parchment paper and use a rolling pin to flatten it into an even 1/4-inch 13-inch circle. There will probably be some excess cocoa butter that makes the candy look greasy, but this is normal. You can pat some of it away with paper towels if you wish. Transfer the candy - still on the paper - to a large flat baking sheet and refrigerate until solid. When the candy is firm, use a 12-inch round dinner plate or cake pan as a template to trim the candy to a 12-inch circle.

Candy taco fixins!
6 ounces red candy melts
3 ounces yellow candy melts
3 ounces orange candy melts
1/2 cup (45 g) sweetened flake coconut
Leaf green gel food color
1/3 cup prepared vanilla buttercream (homemade or shortcut with a purchased tub)

Melt red candy in the microwave and spread in a 4x4-inch square on parchment paper. Let stand until solid at room temperature, about 15 minutes. Use a large chef’s knife to cut candy into small squares for ‘chopped tomatoes’ or red pepper – whatever your imagination prefers.

Melt yellow and orange candy melts in the microwave and transfer to a zip top bag with a tiny hole in the corner snipped. Pipe thin lines of candy on parchment paper and allow them to stand until set, about 15 minutes. Chop into shred with a knife or bench scraper for ‘shredded cheese’.

Combine coconut and a dot of green food color in a small bowl. Mix with a spoon or with gloved hands until the color is dispersed throughout the coconut. This will be ‘lettuce’.

Place the buttercream in a zip top bag with the corner snipped, or in a disposable piping bag.

Cover one piece of chocolate cake with the ganache; sandwich the two cakes together. Place a little of the ganache in the center of the white chocolate taco shell and place the sandwiched cake on top. Cover the outside of the cake with chocolate ganache. Using both hands, gently lift the edges of the white chocolate taco shell toward the center until the sides adhere to the chocolate ganache and stand upright (at this point the cake should look like a stand’n stuff taco!). Spread more chocolate ganache on the inside bottom edges of the taco shell. Use the reserved crumbled cake scraps as ‘taco meat’. Spread them all along the bottom edges of the taco and on top of the cake piece.

Add candy lettuce, tomato pieces and shredded cheese (which is the order I used). Squeeze a big ol’ pile of buttercream in the top center of the taco for ‘sour cream’.

Serve cake immediately, or refrigerate until the buttercream is firm then cover with plastic wrap. You must cover the cake if you make it ahead of time or the cake crumb ‘taco meat’ will dry out.
Slice cake into pieces and serve to delighted taco-lovers!

P.S. Here's the birthday cake that inspired OBTC, if anyone is interested!

link One Big Taco Cake! By Published: One Big Taco Cake Recipe


  1. Ok, this is so awesome! I have a taco loving 7 year old that I'm hoping will want this for her next birthday!

    1. That would be so perfect! It's not too hard to make, I promise!

  2. This is by far the best taco cake I have seen! Thank you so much for the tutorial! My step son LOVES tacos and I already had the idea to make him a taco cake. Now you have made it sooo much easier! Thanks!!

  3. Question. In the instructions you say to add shortening, but then ingredients list oil. Which should be used? Also, if I want to use just a dark chocolate ganache would I just use equal amounts to add up to the amount of chili chocolate used? I am definitely making this for my daughter's upcoming 10th bday. Thanks for setting the theme!!!

    1. Hi Bryn! I mean vegetable oil. Shortening is a typo! Thanks for the heads up, I'll be sure to fix it. And yes absolutely! You can add equal amounts of dark chocolate for the chili chocolate.

  4. Woow! :) What a great cake for taco lovers! Love the "cheese" there!

  5. Ahhhh Heather as usual you are AMAZING! I love the clean, artful design of your OBTC... it is HILARIOUS and looks so great!! Love the original one you were inspired by, too. That dollop of heaven cream is so brilliant.

  6. You are so fun, your photos are awesome, your recipes are so clear and your videos are delightful. Thank you again so much!

  7. Yummy! Nice decoration, Cant wait to try

  8. That is adorable. My kids love tacos, and always make jokes about Taco Tuesday if that's the day I happen to serve them. I may have to try one of these to catch them off guard.

  9. The cake looks gorgeous and delicious. Thanks for share!!

  10. Wow, this looks so awesome ahahah I just love it! Hope when I make mine it'll look just as awesome!

  11. Taco cake? Lol! You're always amazing me. I simply love it! Thank you for sharing the details with us!!

  12. I made this cake for myself for my 42nd birthday! It was delicious and SO fun to make! I now want to make taco cakes for every occasion. :) Thanks for the inspiration and how-to!

  13. i was going to try and make this cake as small individual cakes for my daughter's birthday party. wish me luck!

    how far in advance is it ok to make the "taco shells" if i keep them in the fridge?

  14. The shells can be made a couple of days in advance. I recommend keeping them at room temperature in a zip-top bag with the air removed. They can become brittle in the refrigerator, and if you try to bend them when they are cold they'll break at the bend. Good luck good luck good luck! You'll do great!

  15. Hi Heather, I wish I would have had as much success as some of the other folks did with their "taco shells." I followed the directions carefully and watched your video several times. However, my shell never got hard enough to mold and wouldn't stick to the cake. When I folded the sides up, it slumped over. I tried several times. I am disappointed and wonder what tips you have that could have made this a success. I have made cakes for years and this chocolate shell was a bit out of my comfort zone but still..... :( All I can say, is thank God for Ortega hard shells. The rest of the items worked great and tasted delicious.
    Thanks, -taco-shell-less in Utah, Nicole

    1. Hi Nicole! Well darn! I'm sorry to hear your taco shell wouldn't stand at attention. I wonder if it had something to do with the butter fat content in the white chocolate you used. Certain brands of white chocolate are super high in fat - up to 55%! I feel maybe this could be the culprit for a too lax taco shell, but I can't say for sure. If you decide to make a second attempt, look for chocolate with around 30% butter fat, or use white candy melts in place of the white chocolate. Thanks for trying the recipe, Nicole! Hopefully you'll get a better result next time! xo

  16. Any suggestions for another brand of white chocolate? I am not finding butterfat info on labels and having failed with Ghirardelli chips (bad idea, they were on sale though!) I just want to know if there is a name brand I may easily be able to find in the store (I am in Washington DC so it shouldn't be too hard). Thanks!

  17. I make a lot of cakes and a lot of tacos. I’ve never made a taco cake until this past weekend. I’m so glad i found your fabulous cake! I followed the directions for the shell and it came out perfect! Thank you so much for sharing.

  18. I just made this for my daughter's "Dragons Love Tacos" birthday party and it was awesome. The shell was a little slumpy, but I stuck a toothpick in it and it stayed together. I followed the directions exactly - even bought the taza chocolate (that ganache was amazing)! The only change I made was using wilton candy melts instead of white chocolate for the shell, which worked well. Also, the candy melts in the plastic bag didn't work for me - my bag broke! Next time I'd just put it in a pastry bag and pipe it. But overall, thanks for an awesome recipe! I would definitely make this again, and I'm no baker.

  19. Also had slumping issues with the shell. It would stay rigid for s bit but softens quickly and droops. Was also hard to cut, almost gummy. I used white chocolate melts so I am guessing that was the variable that caused issues?


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