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Buggy Gal Birthday Cake

When a birthday comes around, do you scurry to find a dessert to serve that hits the spot? Next time, you won't have to look any further than the appetizing critter our staff of home economists cooked up! Getting this confection off to a flying start is a cinch. Begin by baking a delectably chocolate buttermilk cake—from LaVonne's recipe—in a bowl to form the buggy body. To create the colorful markings, you can use purchased black frosting and a quick-to-make red version. Then dapple the ladybug with vanilla chips, licorice and peppermint patties for details. After following the step-by-step instructions, you'll be ready to set your own mouthwatering miss out on the table...and let folks start nibbling!—LaVonne Hegland, St. Michael, Minnesota
  • Total Time
    Prep: 30 min. Bake: 1 hour 20 min. + cooling
  • Makes
    12-16 servings


  • 1 cup shortening
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 eggs
  • 2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup baking cocoa
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup shortening
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 4 to 5 teaspoons milk
  • Red paste food coloring
  • 1 tube (4.25 ounces) black frosting (about 1/4 cup)
  • 2 white baking chips
  • 12 chocolate-covered peppermint patties
  • 2 pieces black shoestring licorice (2-1/2 inches)
  • Leaf-shaped spearmint gumdrops, optional


  • In a large bowl, cream shortening and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in buttermilk and eggs. Combine flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt; add to the creamed mixture alternately with water, beating well after each addition.
  • Pour into a greased and floured 4-qt. ovenproof bowl. Bake at 350° for 80-90 minutes (covering with foil halfway through baking time) or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from bowl to a wire rack to cool completely.
  • For frosting, cream butter, shortening and vanilla in a large bowl. Gradually beat in the sugar and enough milk to achieve a spreading consistency. Tint with red food coloring. Set 3 tablespoons of frosting aside.
  • Place the cake on a serving platter. Frost with remaining frosting, leaving an 8-1/2x6x6-in. triangle of cake unfrosted. Frost the triangle with some of the black frosting.
  • Fill a heavy-duty resealable plastic bag with remaining black frosting; cut a small hole in corner of bag. Pipe a line from the tip of the triangle over the top of the cake to the other side, creating wings. With the same frosting, outline the edge of the triangle. For the eyes, pipe a 1/4-in. black dot on the flat side of each vanilla chip; position the chips on black triangle and press gently into frosting.
  • Randomly place peppermint patties over red frosting for ladybug's spots; press down gently. Fill another plastic bag with reserved red frosting; cut a small hole in corner of bag. Pipe a smile under eyes. Insert licorice pieces above eyes for antennae.
Nutrition Facts
1 piece: 482 calories, 20g fat (6g saturated fat), 35mg cholesterol, 483mg sodium, 73g carbohydrate (52g sugars, 1g fiber), 4g protein.

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