Pull-Apart Pool Cupcake Cake

4h 30 min
24 cupcakes

It’s everybody into the pool for this fun summer dessert that requires little more than box cake mix, frosting and colourful supermarket candy.




box (15.25-oz) vanilla cake mix (plus required ingredients)
tub (16-oz) vanilla frosting
Blue food colouring, as needed


ounce blue candy-coated chocolates, such as M & M's
ounce white candy-coated chocolates, such as M & M's
package (3-oz) package blue sweetened powdered gelatin (1/4 cup)
striped sour candy belt
graham cracker bears
candy necklaces
small jawbreaker
gummy ring candies, such as Lifesavers Gummies
chocolate chew candy, such as Tootsie Roll
white flat taffy candy strip, such as Airheads
green flat taffy candy strip, such as Airheads



Special equipment: two 12-cup muffin pans; 24 cupcake liners; a pastry bag fitted with a large round tip; an offset spatula; 2 drink umbrellas

Step 1

Line two 12-cup muffin pans with cupcake liners. Prepare the cupcakes according to the package directions. Transfer to cooling racks and cool completely.

Step 2

In a clean mixer bowl, combine 1 1/2 tubs of the frosting and about 1/4 teaspoon blue food colouring. Beat until smooth and no streaks remain, adding more colour if needed to make a light blue frosting.

Step 3

Dollop a tiny bit of blue frosting on the bottom of the liner of one of the cupcakes (this will help anchor it to the serving tray), then dollop a generous amount on top of the cupcake. Anchor the cupcake to a serving tray large enough to hold all 24 cupcakes. Repeat with the remaining cupcakes, arranging them in a 4-by-6 cupcake grid with the edges touching.

Step 4

Using an offset spatula, smooth the blue frosting across the tops of the cupcakes, adding more as necessary, so it appears as 1 layer and the individual cupcakes are no longer visible. Smooth the remaining blue frosting on the sides to cover the cupcakes but not the liners.

Step 5

Put the remaining 1 1/2 tubs white frosting in a pastry bag fitted with a large round tip. Pipe the outline of a rectangle in white (about 5 by 7 inches) closer to one short edge of the cupcake grid to make the pool. Pipe around the outline of the rectangle all the way to the edges of the cupcake grid with white, leaving the inside of the pool blue. Smooth the white frosting with an offset spatula.

Step 6

Arrange a row of blue candy-coated chocolates on the white frosting around the perimeter of the pool, then arrange another row of blue candy-coated chocolates around the outer perimeter of the cupcake grid. Fill in between the 2 blue rows with rows of white candy-coated chocolates to make the pool deck. Chill the cake 30 minutes to set the frosting inside the pool.

Step 7

Meanwhile, bring 1/2 cup water to a boil in a small saucepan. Stir in the blue gelatin until dissolved. Combine a mixture of water and ice in a measuring cup to make 1/2 cup. Stir into the dissolved gelatin until the ice melts. Chill the gelatin mixture while the cake chills. After 30 minutes, pour the gelatin into the pool. Chill until completely set, about 2 hours.

Step 8

Cut 2 strips of sour candy belt, each slightly larger than a graham bear, to make beach towels. Lay 1 bear on each towel and arrange them to relax by the pool. Add a drink umbrella over each to shade them from the sun.

Step 9

Cut the candy necklaces open where they tie to make 2 long strips. Cut 2 strips the same size as the length of the pool and arrange them over the gelatin for lanes. Gently pull out and discard the strings, keeping the candies in straight lines. Arrange 3 bears around a jawbreaker in the pool to play a game of volleyball. Stick a bear in each gummy ring candy for floaties and add to the pool.

Step 10

Cut the chocolate chew into 4 pieces crosswise to make legs for the diving board. Cut a 1 1/2-inch piece from the white taffy and attach it to the legs to make a diving board. Set at the deep end of the pool and press a bear at the end, ready to dive in.

Step 11

Cut the green taffy into a rectangle a little larger than a bear. With the back of a paring knife, score lines in the taffy to resemble the puffy parts of a blow-up raft. Stick a bear on the raft and add him to the pool. Stick the remaining bears in the pool to hang out.

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