Treasure Hunt

Treasure Chest Cake


You'll strike gold with this treasure chest cake.

A double whammy of cake and candy, this loot-filled confection is an exciting finale for a pirate party. Key-shaped cookies, decorated with the children's names, make memorable party favors.

Prep and decorating time: 1 hour

Bake time: 1 hour

Yield: 8 to 10 servings

  • 1 box (16 oz.) pound-cake mix
  • 1 can (16 oz.) vanilla frosting
  • Yellow food coloring
  • 1 1/2 cans (16 oz. each) plus 1 cup milk-chocolate frosting
  • 3 pretzel rods, trimmed to 3 1/2" lengths
  • Assorted candies such as foil- wrapped coins, gold-foil-wrapped chocolate nuggets, colored rock sugar, foil-wrapped chocolate kisses, and Starburst hard candies*
  • 26 brown M&M's Minis
  • 1 cup graham cracker or vanilla wafer crumbs

  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a 9"x 5" loaf pan. Prepare cake mix according to package directions. Bake 50 to 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack. Cool 10 minutes; invert and cool completely.
  2. Place cake on serving platter or foil-covered piece of cardboard. With long side facing front, cut cake in half horizontally at an angle. Set lid aside. With a small knife, cut a 1/2-inch deep rectangular well from bottom half of cake, leaving a 10 border in front and a 1/2" border in back. Remove scraps and crumble with your fingers; set aside.
  3. Frost bottom half of cake with chocolate frosting. (Don't frost the well.) To achieve a woodlike effect, gently run a fork over frosting in a wavy pattern. Tint vanilla frosting yellow and spoon into a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2"plain ribbon tip; set aside.
  4. Insert pretzel rods vertically inside the well. Fill well with some of the candies. For lid, cut an 8"x 4" rectangle from cardboard and cover with foil. Spread chocolate frosting on top, bottom, and sides of top half of cake. (Save 1 Tbs. frosting for the keyhole.) Place cake on top of foil-covered cardboard for support.
  5. Place lid over cake, using pretzel rods and back edge of bottom cake for support. Decorate cake with yellow frosting: Pipe a single line along bottom edges and double lines along top and center. For nail heads, place M&M's Minis around treasure box and in a row down center of lid.
  6. Spoon remaining chocolate frosting in a resealable bag; snip off a small corner. Pipe a keyhole. For sand, mix cake crumbs with graham cracker crumbs and spread around cake. Fill with remaining candies, allowing some to fall into the sand.

* Hard candies are a choking hazard for kids under 3.

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