April 28, 2015

Margarita Cake-n-Jello Shots

    Is it a Margarita?  Is it a Jell-o shot?  Is it cake??  
It's all three!  Yes, with Margarita Cake-n-Jello Shots, combine Margaritas, cake, and a Jell-o shot all into one fun-and-festive little party bite.

Margarita Cake-n-Jello Shots

Throwing a Margarita party?  Or a Cinco de Mayo party?  Or any-ol' party for that matter??  Then trust me ... make these Margarita Cake-n-Jello Shots, and they'll definitely be the life of the party!

I had the pleasure of spending last week ...
... in North Myrtle Beach, SC with my parents for Spring SOS {Society of Stranders} ... which is basically a big ol' week-long Spring Break for adults.  Spring Break for adults who Carolina Shag dance, that is!  Which my parents ... and a good majority of their friends ... do.  And while I don't Shag {yet}, I sure have fun hanging out with my parents and their crew of fun friends.

One of the highlights of the week?  A fabulous Margarita Party hosted by their friends Ann and Ned!

And guess what???  Ann and Ned let me experiment on them and their party guests with these Margarita Cake-n-Jello Shots!  When I first figured out I was going to be able to spend the week with Mom and Dad at the beach and get to go to the Margarita Party, I just knew I had the perfect  opportunity to bring to life this cake-n-Jello shot idea that had been swimming around in my head for a while.

And I'm very happy to say, the idea did not disappoint.

But before we take a detailed look at how to make Margarita Cake-n-Jello Shots, here a few other highlights from the week ... starting with the annual SOS Parade.

It was so fun to see all the really cool floats created by the various Shag Clubs who enter the parade.  I kid you not, these folks take their parade floats seriously!

2015 SOS Parade Collage
Left: My Mom at the SOS Parade.
Center: Our friends Pat & Archer dressed in '50s attire on the Competitive Shaggers Association (CSA) float.  Birthday cake on the CSA float.
Right: Ocean Drive Shag Club circus-themed float, complete with zoo animals following along.  Birthday candles leading the CSA float.

Mom and I made it our parade goal to each collect a 'rainbow' of party beads being thrown from the floats ... we wanted to see if we could get a strand of every color {we're truly just big kids at heart}.  With a little teamwork ... and some very targeted begging ... we succeeded!  Purple and teal beads were the most elusive ... but our persistence paid off.

Of course, there was also a lot of dancing, a lot of staying-up-way-too-late, and a whole lot of fun.  I'm very surprised to say that, after one short little dance lesson from our dance-instructor-friend Archer, I even got out on the dance floor.  Amazing.  I was terrified.  

Nothing like having your first-ever shag dance be on a dance floor in front of hundreds of die-hard shag dancers at probably-the-biggest-gathering-of-shag-dancers-on-the-planet in the mecca  of shag dancing.

Um yeh ... just a tad bit intimidating.  But I did it!

Fun at 2015 Spring SOS
Left: Me & Mom with our haul of beads at the SOS Parade.
Center: Mom line dancing.  Our friends Pat & Archer warming up for their dance competition.
Right: Margarita Cake-n-Jello Shots making their debut at Ann & Ned's Margarita Party.

And.  We all enjoyed the debut of Margarita Cake-n-Jello Shots.

Which is what you've been waiting to hear about, right?  A layer of tequila-&-Triple-Sec-laced Margarita cake topped with a layer of Margarita-flavored Jello shots ... it's a match made in party heaven.

Margarita Cake-n-Jello Shots

So let's take a look at how to make these layered little party beauties, shall we?

While not difficult to make, there are some definite tips & tricks that make preparing Margarita Cake-n-Jello Shots easier ... and produce a 'prettier' final result.  So let's take this process step-by-step.

And the start of the process is very  important.

Two key points for the start ...

1.  A sturdy cake base that's not too thick ~ The cake needs to be a very sturdy cake to hold up to the Jello layer on top.  I researched how to create a firm crumb, and found that adding dry pudding mix to boxed cake mix is the trick.  I actually ended up using a modified version of my Mom's Rum Cake for the cake layer ... and it worked beautifully.  And for those who are wondering ... yes, using pudding mix does  indeed make a difference ... I tried the cake layer multiple ways, both with and without pudding mix.

The cake layer also can't be too thick, or it overpowers the Jello shot layer ... Or, as my Mom said, you end up with a cake frosted with Jello.  Which really wasn't the point.  We wanted to create a nice balance of cake shot & Jello shot together ... not a Jello-frosted cake.  The answer to getting the cake thickness right? ... Using only a 1/2 batch of cake batter.

2. A disposable pan ~ This is important.  To end up with 'pretty' Jello shot cubes, make the cake/shots in a disposable 9x13" pan.  You'll see why in a bit ...

So first mix up a 'sturdy' Margarita-flavored cake batter, using 1/2 of a  boxed white cake mix and vanilla instant pudding mix {and a whole lot of tequila}, and bake it up in a disposable 9x13" pan:

Making Margarita Cake-n-Jello Shots

Once the cake is baked and cooled, use a serrated knife to level off any high spots on the cake.  Leveling the cake will create nice, even layers of cake and Jello and help keep the Jello from 'pooling' on the sides:

Making Margarita Cake-n-Jello Shots

Reason #1 using a disposable pan is important:
You'll notice that the cooled cake shrinks away from the sides of the pan a bit.  To keep the Jello layer from running down into the gaps {and hence, most likely, underneath the cake}, gently squish in the corners and dent the sides of the pan to 'hug' the cake and reduce the gaps as much as possible.

Making Margarita Cake-n-Jello Shots

Prepare the Jello shot mixture, chill it until partially set, and pour/spread it on top of the cake layer:

Making Margarita Cake-n-Jello Shots

Chill the entire pan several hours or overnight until the Jello shot layer is completely set.

Reason #2 using a disposable pan is important:
When it comes time to cut and serve the Margarita Cake-n-Jello Shots, the disposable pan is your best friend.  While you certainly could  use a little spatula or something to cut and remove your Cake-n-Jello Shots from a 'regular' baking pan ... cutting and removing them with a disposable pan is much, much easier and better preserves their shape.

You know why?

Because you can cut away the disposable pan!  Pretty good idea, don't you think?

So when you're ready to enjoy your Margarita Cake-n-Jello Shots, use kitchen shears or scissors to cut through the corners ...

Making Margarita Cake-n-Jello Shots

... and center of each side of the pan.

Slide the tip of a knife along the edges between the Jello shot layer and the sides of the pan, and then gently pull the pan sides away and flatten them down.

Making Margarita Cake-n-Jello Shots

Cut the Margarita Cake-n-Jello Shots into cubes using a sawing motion with a sharp paring knife.

Place your fun Cake-n-Jello Shot cubes on platter and sprinkle with a tiny sprinkling of sea salt ... just a small touch of salt will do.

 Margarita Cake-n-Jello Shots

And then serve up a beautiful platter of Margarita Cake-n-Jello Shots ~ combining Margaritas, cake, and Jell-o shots all into one festive little party bite.

I mean seriously, how fun is that?

From our experience at Ann & Ned's Margarita Party, pretty darn-tootin' fun!

Margarita Cake-n-Jello Shots
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Margarita Cake-N-Jello Shots
Source:  A Tracey creation, concept inspired by Booze Cakes: Confections Spiked with Spirits, Wine, and Beer
For the Cake Layer:
  • 1 1/2 c. Duncan Hines* white cake mix {1/2 of a 16.5 oz. package}
  • 1/4 c. dry vanilla instant pudding mix {1/2 of a 3 oz. package}
  • 1/2 T. lime zest
  • 1/2 tsp. orange zest
  • 1/4 c. tequila
  • 2 T. Triple Sec
  • 1/2 lime juiced + water to make 2 T. liquid
  • 1/4 c. canola oil
  • 2 eggs
For the Jell-o Shot Layer:
  • 3 packages lime Jell-o {can use 3 (3 oz.-size) regular or (0.3 oz.-size) sugar-free packages}
  • 2 1/2 c. boiling water
  • 1 1/4 c. tequila
  • 1 c. Triple Sec
  • 1/2 c. ice water
When Serving:
  • sea salt
  1. NOTE: DO NOT FOLLOW PREPARATION DIRECTIONS ON THE CAKE MIX BOX. FOLLOW THESE DIRECTIONS INSTEAD. In a mixing bowl, place dry cake mix, dry pudding mix, lime zest, and orange zest; stir to combine. Add tequila, Triple Sec, lime juice {+ water, if needed}, oil, and eggs. Mix with a whisk or electric mixer until well combined and batter is smooth.
  2. Pour into a disposable 9x13" baking pan coated with non-stick baking spray. Bake at 325 degrees until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 20-22 minutes. Set cake aside to cool. Once cake is cooled, use a serrated knife to level off any high spots on the cake.
  3. Pour boiling water into a large mixing bowl. Immediately stir in lime Jello, one package at a time, until completely dissolved. Let cool for 5 minutes. Stir in tequila, Triple Sec, and ice water.
  4. Place Jello mixture in the refrigerator and chill until partially set ... you want it to be just beginning to gel, but still pourable; approximately 1 1/2 to 2 hours {check it frequently}.
  5. Before pouring Jello mixture on top of the cake, gently squish in corners and dent the sides of the pan to 'hug' the cake and reduce gaps as much as possible. Pour/spread Jello mixture evenly on top of the cake layer. Chill the entire pan several hours or overnight until the Jello shot layer is completely set.
  6. When ready to enjoy your Margarita Cake-n-Jello Shots, use kitchen shears or scissors to cut through the corners and center of each side of the disposable pan. Slide the tip of a knife along the edges between the Jello shot layer and sides of the pan; gently pull pan sides away and flatten them down. Use a sawing motion with a sharp paring knife to cut Margarita Cake-n-Jello Shots into cubes {making 8 rows along the long edge and 6 rows along the short edge, for a total of 48 shot cubes}.
  7. Place shot cubes on a serving platter and sprinkle tops with a small sprinkling of sea salt.

*I recommend using Duncan Hines cake mix, as it does not already have pudding included.  If you choose a different cake mix brand, read the ingredients carefully to ensure it doesn't already include pudding in the mix.

Makes 48 Margarita Cake-n-Jello shots


Enjoy these other Margarita creations from The Kitchen is My Playground ...


  1. I know it's probably not nearly as fun but I would omit the alcohol to make these kid friendly. It's a great idea! Stopping by from Create and Share. Pinned!

    1. Oh, these would still be lots of fun kid-friendly! Kids would absolutely love these jiggly little bites. :-)

  2. These sound delicious. Pinning.
    Popping in from the Nifty Thrifty Party.

  3. Hope you are having a great week and thanks so much for sharing with Full Plate Thursday.
    Come Back Soon!
    Miz Helen

  4. This is really a wonderful post.


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