"Boxwood Shrub" Cake Balls

"Boxwood Shrub" Cake Balls
Photo: Stephen Kent Johnson
Prep Time:
40 mins
Total Time:
1 hrs 5 mins
30 to 35

In this whimsical decoration for Martha's special Easter cake, a basic vanilla cake is baked, crumbled and mixed with buttercream and formed into balls. The balls are then rolled in green nonpareils to resemble clipped boxwood hedges.


  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan

  • ¾ cup unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for pan

  • ¾ teaspoon baking powder

  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt

  • ½ cup sugar

  • 1 large egg, room temperature

  • ¼ cup whole milk

  • ¼ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

  • 1 cup Swiss Meringue Buttercream

  • 4 ounces green nonpareils


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a 9-inch round cake pan; dust with flour, tapping out excess. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Beat butter with sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, 1 minute. Add egg; beat well. Reduce speed to low and gradually add flour mixture, beating until combined. Add milk and vanilla, scraping down sides of bowl as necessary; beat until just combined. Pour batter into prepared pan; smooth top with an offset spatula.

  2. Bake until golden and a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, 23 to 25 minutes. Let cake cool in pan on a wire rack 15 minutes, then turn out onto rack and let cool completely.

  3. Crumble cake into a bowl until no large lumps remain. Add buttercream; stir until combined.

  4. Place nonpareils in a small bowl. Using your hands, roll half of cake mixture into 1 1/4-inch balls (heaping teaspoons); working with one at a time, roll balls in nonpareils, pressing lightly to adhere.

  5. Roll remaining cake mixture into 3/4-inch balls (scant teaspoons) and roll in nonpareils, pressing lightly to adhere. (You should have about 14 of each.) Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour. Decorated cake balls can be refrigerated in an airtight container up to 3 days.

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