Recipe courtesy of Heather Baird

Puffed Rice Paper Ghost Cake

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  • Level: Intermediate
  • Total: 3 hr 20 min (includes cooling, chilling and setting times)
  • Active: 1 hr
  • Yield: 20 servings
Create a haunted scene for your Halloween table with this creepy-cute layer cake. Conjure up your own eerie decorations with a little help from the viral rice paper wrapper trend—but cut the wrappers into spooky ghost shapes instead of flowers. They spring to life in hot oil and only take seconds to cook.


Cake Layers:

Green Vanilla Buttercream:

Black Chocolate Drip:

Rice Puff Ghosts:


Special equipment:
six 6-inch round cake pans; an offset spatula; a bench scraper or cake smoother; kitchen-dedicated scissors; kitchen-dedicated art brush (fine tip); a disposable piping bag; a tall wooden skewer
  1. For the cake layers: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Coat six 6-inch round cake pans with flour-based baking spray.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine the flour, granulated sugar, cake mixes and salt. Whisk on low speed until combined. Add the sour cream, eggs and 2 cups of water. Mix on medium speed until just combined. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl; add the vanilla extract. Mix again until no streaks of the dry ingredients remain.
  3. Divide the batter into 3 bowls. Tint one bowl of batter with the neon green food color and tint a second bowl with the orange food color. Add the food color a little at a time until a bright hue is achieved. Leave the last bowl of batter plain (white).
  4. Divide the plain white cake batter among the prepared pans. Spoon a little green and orange batter into each pan and swirl the colors together with a skewer or butter knife. Bake the cakes until they are lightly browned and a toothpick tester inserted near the center comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Let the cakes cool completely. Level each cake layer using a serrated knife or a wire cake leveler.
  5. For the green vanilla buttercream: Cream together the butter and confectioners' sugar on low speed in the bowl of an electric mixer. When the mixture is combined, increase the speed to high and whip until light in color, about 3 minutes. Turn the mixer off and add the vanilla extract. Beat again until the buttercream is light and fluffy, about another 3 minutes. Add milk or cream if the mixture is too thick to spread or pipe.
  6. Place 1/4 cup of the buttercream in a small bowl and cover with a damp towel. Tint the remaining buttercream with the neon green food color. Add a little at a time while beating until a vibrant hue is achieved. Drape a damp towel over the bowl so the buttercream doesn’t dry out.
  7. Use the green buttercream to fill the cake layers and to apply a thin crumb coat to the outside of the cake. Use an offset spatula or bench scraper to even the buttercream. Place the cake in the refrigerator to chill until the buttercream is firm, about 15 minutes. When the crumb coat layer is well chilled, apply a second layer of green buttercream and smooth it using an offset spatula or bench scraper. Chill while you prepare the black chocolate drip topping.
  8. For the black chocolate drip: Place the candy melting wafers and heavy cream in a small microwave-safe bowl. Heat the mixture in the microwave at 100% power for 1 minute. Allow the mixture to stand for 1 minute longer. Gently whisk together until the mixture creates a smooth, glossy candy ganache. Let the mixture cool slightly.
  9. Remove the cake from the refrigerator. Spoon the ganache over the cake, pooling it in the center of the top first, and then using the spoon to gently push some of the ganache over the edge to create a drip effect. Allow the cake to stand until the ganache is set, about 15 minutes at room temperature.
  10. For the rice puff ghosts: Use kitchen-dedicated scissors to trim the rice paper into roughly ghost-shaped pieces. Make varied shapes of ghosts with and without arms. Each rice paper round should yield about 2 ghosts, giving you at least 12 from all 6 wrappers.
  11. In a large saucepan or an electric skillet, heat the sunflower oil to 350 degrees F. Using tongs, place the rice paper ghosts in the oil. They will instantly puff, wrinkle and twist in the hot oil. Remove the puffs to paper towels to drain and cool completely, about 5 minutes.
  12. Dab a paint brush into the piping gel and dot it onto the head of the ghost puffs. Place the eyeballs on the rice paper. Allow the candy to set about 10 minutes before using to decorate the cake.
  13. Place the reserved white vanilla buttercream in a disposable piping bag. Use dots of buttercream on the backs of the ghosts to adhere them to the outside of the cake. Some of the ghosts will adhere without additional buttercream when placed on the black drip.
  14. Insert a wooden skewer into the top of the cake leaving about 2 inches sticking out from the top. Place a ghost puff on each side of the skewer standing upright. Use buttercream to anchor them together.

Cook’s Note

This is a tall cake with six layers. One slice can be halved into two 3-layer pieces, which will serve two people. White melted candy or white chocolate can be used to adhere candy eyeballs to the rice paper puffs if you don’t have piping gel or corn syrup on hand.