A Holiday Surprise Cake

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I don't know about you, but I love to make people happy. I strive for that moment in presentation when you hear an audible gasp of delight and surprise.

If I could, I would spend hours in the kitchen slaving away over a special dessert, but I can't. And I am betting your time is valuable as well.

So that is why I could not be more excited to share this cake with you. It takes less than an hour to assemble, including prep. This stunning cake is so easy to make, but it can make a huge impact on your family and friends. They will be talking about it for years to come.

Let's put it this way, if you can play with Play-Doh, you can make this cake.

A Rice Krispies Holiday Cake
18 cups Rice Krispies cereal (one 24-oz. box will do)
6 cups Fruity Pebbles
4 bags marshmallows
2 sticks butter
Yellow and green food coloring
8-inch round cake pan (not essential)
6-inch round cake pan (not essential)
3-inch round cake pan (not essential)

To make this cake you are going to start from the inside and work out.

1. Start by making a batch of the Fruity Pebbles for the tree portion of the cake. Using different colored cereal treats will give the tree a twinkling lights look. Follow the recipe on the box to make the Rice Krispie treats, but use four tablespoons of butter instead of three because this will help mold the tree shape.

2. After the marshmallows are mostly melted, add in one tablespoon of green gel food coloring. Mix until fully incorporated and let the mixture rest a few minutes. You don't want to burn your hands.

3. Use your cake pans as a guide. Since I wanted an eight-inch cake, I started the base of my tree in the eight-inch pan. Make sure the pan is thoroughly buttered. Place the base of the tree in the freezer and start on the next layer using the six-inch pan. When done, place it in freezer and continue on to the three-inch pan.

(If you do not have these specific size pans, simply cut a circle out of parchment or wax paper and use that as your guide.)

5. For the top of the tree, mold it into a point instead of keeping it level.

6. Now make three batches of Rice Krispie treats following the recipe on the box, again using four tablespoons of butter instead of three.

7. Remove the other Rice Krispie layers from the freezer. Keep the eight-inch tree base in the cake pan and remove the six-inch green tree layer. Place it on top on the eight-inch layer. You'll start to see your tree come together.

Start filling in the green layers with your plain Rice Krispies. Add the top green layer and continue filling around it with the plain Rice Krispies until you have something that looks like this.

8. If you happen to have an extra eight-inch cake pan, you can place it on the top of the cake to make it level and make sure the sides are even. For an extra-sharp edge, wrap the cake exterior in wax paper and run your hands around the cake to get out all the bumps.

9. Frost the cake with a vanilla frosting like this one from Food Network Kitchens and it will be ready to serve.

Amanda is a wife, mom, baker and creative force behind iambaker.net . She homeschools her four children, lives in the land of 10,000 lakes and is self-appointed president of the Committee to Get Ina Garten on Twitter. (Amanda tweets at @iambakertweets)

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