It's got gravestones, bones, and ghosts galore.
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graveyard cake
Credit: Steven Karl Metzer

With headstone cookies, meringue bones, and scary ghosts, building this edible Halloween scene is a festive and creative activity that kids will love taking part in—and eating, if they dare! The cake base needs to be made ahead and all of the items for decorating it can also be made ahead to save on time.

For this cake, you will need:

• ½ recipe Jane's Dirt Cake, prepared in a 21/2 quart baking dish
• ½ recipe Sweet Bones (see The Bones below)
• ½ recipe Espresso Shortbread Headstones
• 50 pretzel sticks
• 8-10 gummy worms
• ½ cup cotton candy

cake decorations surrounding Jane's Dirt cake on table
Credit: Steven Karl Metzer

The Cake

To get started, prepare a half recipe of Jane's Dirt Cake in a 2½-quart rectangular baking dish. The cake is composed of layers of pudding and "dirt" made from crushed Oreo cookies; this needs to chill for at least four hours before being decorated. It can also be made a day ahead and chilled in the refrigerator.

The Gravestones

Espresso Shortbread Headstones are perfect for this cake. (If you don't have a headstone shaped cookie cutter, there's a printable template in the recipe.) You'll only need about six large shortbread headstones, so preparing a half batch of the recipe is sufficient. Prepare, decorate, and store the headstone cookies in an airtight tin until it's time to use them to decorate the cake.

The Bones

No graveyard would be complete without bones, lots of bones. This is where the Sweet Bones recipe comes in. It uses a simple meringue that is piped into bone shapes before baking. The sweet edible bones are just right for a graveyard cake. When you make them, be sure to pipe bones in various shapes and sizes.

In addition to bones, try piping ghost shapes, too; pipe a circle, then add squiggly ghost tails and hands. Once the meringue is baked, use melted chocolate to add details, like cavities in the skull or eyes and a mouth on the ghosts. Don't worry if your piping skills are a bit rusty—it's Halloween and less-than-perfect designs can look spooky. Store the finished meringues in an airtight container to keep them crisp: Moisture is the enemy of crispy meringues.

Jane's Dirt Cake half decorated
Credit: Steven Karl Metzer

Other Decorations

One of the things that is so much fun about this cake is that you can get creative and use all sorts of candies and common food items to create the scene. Stack the pretzel sticks around the other edge of the cake to create a crooked fence. As an added bonus, the pretzel fence can also help support ghosts or other scary items. Place gummy worms throughout the graveyard—you can even burry them under the cookie dirt for a surprise when someone digs in. Pull cotton candy apart to make edible spider webs. We suggest webbing it over the pretzel fence or in between the gravestones.

How to Decorate the Halloween Graveyard Cake

Start by setting up the pretzel fence, then add meringue bones and cookie gravestones. Be sure to push all items standing upright down into the cake for stability. Fill in any space with gummy worms and additional bones. Add cotton candy to the fence to look like spider webs and add ghosts to each of the corners.

Get creative and have fun with the decorating. The end result will be a spooky cake that everyone wants to eat this Halloween.

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