I am slowly but surely learning that all of life’s most important lessons can be learned from baking.

First there was the mint chocolate cupcake debacle in which I learned (a) that sometimes listening to authority really is important to do, (b) sometimes listening to authority involves actually reading directions and not deciding that you are the queen of cupcake baking and so rules and ingredient lists do not apply to you, and (c) when your gut instinct tells you that your batter is too dense…then it’s probably right.  Because your gut instinct has eaten a lot of batter.


It would have been nice if I had actually learned those lessons.

Especially the first two.

Because then maybe, in addition to learning the genetic mutations of every autosomal recessive disease known to man along with the chromosome on which they occur, I wouldn’t have had to also learn that sometimes bad things happen to good cakes.

Sometimes you really do need to line the bottom of your cake pans with parchment paper.  Sometimes PAM For Baking just won’t cut it.

Sometimes your roommate will find you lying on the kitchen floor in fetal position because all three of the layers of the rubix cube-designed cake that you were going to make her for her birthday broke into a million pieces when you tried to invert them onto a cooling rack.

Sometimes you realize that you really need to vacuum the floor next time before you decide to lie on it in fetal position.

See.  Many life lessons.  All wrapped up in one cake.


But then, of course, there’s also the final and possibly most important life lesson that is to come of this.  Which is that everything happens for a reason.

You see, it was Sophie’s 27th birthday.  And she, being the true (adorable!) engineering school nerd that she is, was super excited about the fact that her age is now a perfect cube (3x3x3=27).  (Not that I think you guys didn’t know what that meant, but when I told my physical therapist that her age was a perfect cube, he looked at me like I had six heads…so I’m just covering my bases.)

So then I got it into my head to make her a rubix cube cake.  Basically, a triple layer square cake filled with mango curd, topped with ganache and decorated with fondant to look like a rubix cube. It was going to be a real masterpiece.

And then I ended up with cake broken all over my kitchen table.  Really delicious cake.  But broken, nonetheless.

I had already made the curd, so I did what any normal person would do in such a situation. I made cake pops.  Using the mango curd as the binder instead of butter and confectioner’s sugar.  And covered in a vanilla-infused chocolate ganache with sea salt mixed in.

Mini rubix cube-shaped cake pops.  Which, though they are not as gorgeous as I would have liked them to be (hey, it was my first time working with fondant!), were amazingly delicious.  Jaw-droppingly delicious.  Addictively delicious.

So…yeah.  Sometimes bad things happen to good cakes, it’s true.  But sometimes bad things are really a blessing in disguise.

Ah, the profundities of cake baking.

As an aside, I will be donating baked goods for a virtual bake sale that will run from May 4-6, in which all of the proceeds will go to Massachusetts Komen for the Cure.  If you ever wanted an Eats Well With Others treat sent right to your door, then this is the opportunity!  Specifically, I’ll be offering up a batch of my crazy insane crystallized ginger dark chocolate brownies.  You don’t want to miss out on this!  I’ll remind you when it’s time to bid.


Vanilla Bean Cake
Makes enough for 1 8-inch triple layer cake, 15 HUGE cake “cubes” or probably 60 cake pops, adapted from Sky High: Irresistible Triple-Layer Cakes

3 cups cake flour
2 cups sugar
4 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 whole vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise
2 sticks plus 2 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/3 cups almond milk
5 egg whites
1 tbsp vanilla extract

1. Preheat the oven to 350.  Butter the bottoms of the 8-inch round cake pans.  Line each with a round of parchment and butter the paper.  NOTE – This step is critical!  I didn’t have any parchment paper so I decided to be all cavalier and do without…and then the cakes broke when I tried to invert them.  Doesn’t really matter if you’re making cake pops but if you want a functional triple layer cake, then do this!

2. Place the flours, sugar, baking powder, and salt in the bowl of your mixer.  With the mixer on low, blend well.  With the tip of a small knife, scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the bowl.  Add the butter and 1 cup of the milk to the dry ingredients and mix to blend.  Raise the speed of the mixer to medium and beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.

3. In a mixing bowl, whisk the egg whites with the vanilla extract and remaining 1/3 cup milk.  Add this to the batter in 2-3 additions, scraping down after each one.  Divide among the three prepared pans.

4. Bake for about 30 minutes or until a cake tester inserted comes out clean.  Let cool in the pans for 10 minutes and then invert onto a cooling rack.  Remove the paper and cool completely.

Vanilla Bean Mango Curd
Makes about 3-4 cups, an Eats Well With Other Original

2 cups sugar
8 tbsp corn starch
4 tbsp flour
1 cup cold water
1 1/2 cups worth pureed mango flesh
4 tbsp fresh lime juice
1 vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise
6 egg yolks
4 tbsp butter, softened
2 cups boiling water

1. In a saucepan, combine the sugar, cornstarch, and flour.   Gradually blend in cold water, mango puree, and lime juice.  Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the pan and mix.

2. Add the egg yolks and butter, blending until smooth.

3. Gradually add in the boiling water, stirring constantly.

4. Place the saucepan over medium high heat and bring to a boil, stirring gently with a spatula and scraping the bottom to prevent burning. Once the mixture begins to thicken, reduce the heat and simmer for one minute.

5. Remove from heat and let cool completely.

Vanilla-Infused Chocolate Ganache with Sea Salt
An Eats Well With Others Original

12 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup whipping cream
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp sea salt

1. Place the chopped chocolate in a medium-sized heatproof bowl.

2. In a pan on the stove, heat the whipping cream and butter until just boiling.  Turn off the heat, mix in the vanilla, and pour over the chocolate chips.  Stir until chocolate is melted.  If the mixture is still lumpy, microwave at 15 second intervals, stirring after each interval, until smooth.  Stir in the sea salt.  Let cool until you can stick your finger in for 5 seconds without burning it.

For the Cake Pops:
When the cake is cool, put it into your stand mixer and mix, using the paddle attachment, until it is completely torn apart.  Add the cold mango curd to the mixture and mix until incorporated.  Refrigerate mixture for at least an hour.

Remove from the fridge and roll the dough into cake balls of desired size, placing them onto a wax paper-lined baking sheet.  Mine were HUGE almost cupcake sized masses, but I was going for excess.  Put in the freezer for 2-3 hours.

Dip the cake balls into the ganache, either using toothpicks to dip them if they are small or chopsticks if they are larger.  Put back on the baking sheet and put in the freezer until chocolate has set.  Decorate as you wish.  I made marshmallow fondant to get the Rubix cube look, following this recipe, but I think they’d be great with some white chocolate drizzle over the top!

This is my submission to Dessert Wars!  The prize pack this month includes:

I am also submitting it to the Culinary Smackdown: Mango Desserts!


You are reading this post on Eats Well With Others at Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author and or owner of Eats Well With Others. All rights reserved by Joanne Bruno.
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107 Responses to Triple Vanilla Mango Curd Cake Pops with Vanilla-infused Chocolate Ganache…Dessert Wars!

  1. sofia says:

    how very inventive of you, to turn a semi-disaster into another cake. i likes it. i think your scientific knowledge helped you out here, especially since baking truly is a science. maybe that’s why i’m so miserable at it, along with science? whatever. i made my first successful banana bread loaf yesterday. baby steps.

  2. Sorry to hear about the disaster, but at least cake pops were born as a result. Perfect cube parties are so much fun, this is probably her second last one (but you don’t want to remind her!)

  3. Oh my gosh be still my heart! How absolutely amazing does this look? You are talking my language now. Sure wish I could be the judge of the dessert wars! LOL! You are amazing

  4. Faith says:

    Cake pops came to my rescue on several occasions, lol! These turned out really beautiful, Joanne. Love the Rubix cube look…and I’ve been wanting to try my hand at working with marshmallow fondant. Talk about meant to be. 🙂

  5. bellini says:

    It works for me Joanne and no one would ever know this is not exactly what you intended to make.

  6. Lea Ann says:

    These look like a masterpiece rather than a make over.

  7. Claudie says:

    Sorry your initial cake broke, but I agree with the others — I would have never known, those pops look absolutely lovely!

  8. Shannon says:

    These are adorable! Make me cake pops! 🙂

  9. OohLookBel says:

    You wouldn’t know that this was a fixup, the cakes look adorable, and the mango curd – well, please hook me up now!

  10. girlichef says:

    They’re adorable =) And I have never ever ever ever worked with fondant. Just so ya know. And I’m pretty sure just eating that gorgeous curd with a spoon would satisfy me. Although I’m not at a perfect cube year, so….

  11. No matter how this recipe evolved, it should have never gotten by the “obscenely delicious blog police”!! Happy perfect cubed birthday to Sophie!


  12. Very creative! That mango curd sounds wonderful and would be nice with so many things.

  13. This looks like a wonderful dessert save! I bet you have a very happy roomate:-)

  14. Dawn says:

    Wow you went all out making this many different dessert items. I think you’ll win the dessert war!

  15. these cake pops look and sound amazing! I’m especially loving the sound of the Vanilla Bean Mango Curd and the vanilla infusion throughout all the elements of the cake pops, nice!

  16. Mariam says:

    The mango curd looks divine!!! love the cake pops too, very creative 🙂
    Also, if you don’t have parchment paper, use some aluminum foil to cover the pans and grease them. This is a no fail tip i always use to prevent sticking and also makes clean-up a breeze as you can just chuck the foil. Hope this helps 🙂 LOve you blog!

  17. I don’t want to even think of how long it took you to cut those small squares out of the fondant! They look adorable though!

  18. Candace says:

    You’ve got my vote! Mango Curd?! That must be insanely delicious. This is the cutest “disaster” recipe that I’ve seen in a long time.

  19. Suman Singh says:

    I have never made a cake pop before and this sounds and looks absolutely delicious..

  20. Amy says:

    Wait, Sophie’s an engineering student? Holy cow – the smarts in your house is incalculable.

    Pretty or not, that fondant made me think of the Skittles slogan “taste a rainbow.” I guarantee, the best pastry chefs and wedding cake designers in the world became great from all their failures. So, if you ever decided not to be a doctor, you’re well on your way to becoming a famous baker. True story.

  21. Raina says:

    You are so funny! I hate when I have baking disasters and I have You are incredibly creative to have come up with this amazing treat. It sounds wonderful. Your roommate must have been thrilled.

    Good luck in Dessert Wars!

  22. brandi says:

    oh my goodness. i love the colors on these! and that curd looks incredible.

  23. Danielle says:

    You are so funny! These sound great though.

  24. What I really want now is that mango curd . . . yum . . .

  25. vanillasugar says:

    LOLOL! love the colors! they just pop. i have a TON of baking diasters and should show some of them eh?

  26. Lora says:

    LOVE the Rubik’s cube fondant design. What a fantastic idea for a 27th birthday!

  27. Katerina says:

    I had so many failures in baking throughout my cooking life I cannot even remember them all! But you managed to create something very beautiful out of this! So this is a very sweet catastrophy!

  28. I’m glad you were able to salvage the cake, because it sounds delicious…. and the pops are super cute!

  29. MM says:

    I think the sign of a great friend/roommate is when someone ends up on the floor in a fetal position over “ruined” b-day cake.

    If this is what happens when baking goes bad at your house, I’d love to rent a room!

  30. You just made me belly-laugh with this post. I read it to myself, laughed out loud, and made my boyfriend listen to me re-read it while he’s brushing his teeth. You are too cute. I know the feeling, of having a grand marvelous idea (especially when it’s meant for someone else), and having it fall apart for one reason or another. It is definitely fetal-position worthy. But the cake pops are adorable! You are a great roommate.

  31. This is truly a labor of love. I agree there are lots of lessons attached to baking, much more precision than cooking. I like that you added your own flair with the fondant rubik’s cube.

  32. That Girl says:

    I too have had my fair share of cakes turned in to cake pops or truffles

  33. Esi says:

    Wow, look at those colorful cake pops

  34. mini rubix cube cakes just might be the best thing I’ve seen all month. perfect!

  35. Megan says:

    I wish I had just one ounce of your creativity! Wow! These are adorable!

  36. sra says:

    Hilarious post! Those little cubes also look like Chiclets. And enjoyed the discovery about age 27 being the perfect cube – wish I’d known then, it would have been something to tell people about!

  37. Allison says:

    I have no idea what you are talking about these look incredible. Way to go on your first fondant attempt. You are a natural.

  38. janet says:

    This is so cute, Joanne. And the fact they look homemade makes them so much more special!! 🙂

  39. Swathi says:

    Looks awesome check designs,it is beautiful for first fondant attempt. I am in love with mango curd.

  40. Nicole says:

    Absolutely gorgeous! And i can envision the cracked cake and fetal position – that sucks…

  41. Drooling everywhere…
    I’m participating in the same bake sale you are 🙂 Love the cause.

  42. Victoria says:

    So you’re saying your original plan WASN’T to make these incredibly adorable mini rubix cube cake pops? They were a pleasant accident resulting from not following directions? Directions are overrated!!! I’ll take your cake pops any day 🙂

  43. Mo Diva says:

    OMG Joanne! these are gorgeous!!!

  44. Pierce says:

    Lots of love going on in that prep! I saw the word mango and my mind went to an orangey color…but I saw all those vivid colors first while the page slowly loaded up…threw me for a minute!

  45. This looks amazing. Seriously AMAZING!!! Vanilla infused…chocolate…sea salt…too much perfection.

  46. Pam says:

    I think they turned out cute! What a good friend you are to make these for her birthday.

  47. Ouch! That was supposed to be a birthday cake? Hugs 🙂 I agree hands down..not only is baking therapeutic but makes you really patient.I can so relate to the inverting cake disaster. Honestly,I have crumbled every layered cake I tried till date.Thank God someone invented ganache, fondant & icing to somehw hide the mess.I must appreciate your patience that you did made these pops, I would have tipped the cake straight into bin.
    What an original recipe girl ! I m totally floored by your idea of mango puree in cake.M a self proclaimed mango fiend! I m so glad that you linked it to the contest. The cake pops look so cool.All the best 🙂

  48. I love that you used the curd instead of buttercream 🙂 totally thinking on your toes and they look amazing!

  49. daphne says:

    ouch!!!! Good save nonetheless! Esp with using the curd to make the pops. It’s bite size and cute- perfect for a engineering major.

  50. teresa says:

    i opened your page to all of those colors and instantly got happier. i love these cake pops, i bet they were a total hit!

  51. Those look amazing! The title alone had me going “holy crap” 🙂

  52. Mary says:

    I hope your roommate enjoys her birthday. She’ll be really old when the next one rolls around. They may not look they way your planned but your cakes look wonderful to me. I hope you have a great day. Blessings…Mary

  53. Mo 'Betta says:

    what a delicious disaster. my failures are usually inedible, but you turn yours into something covered in ganache and fantastic! i’ve been tempted to play with fondant…but haven’t yet!

  54. I love how much you love your roommate. 🙂 She must’ve felt spoiled rotten to have you work so hard, face disaster and STILL make something delicious for her. You’re a kind and true friend. 🙂

  55. Taryn says:

    Wow, Joanne, these are gorgeous! What a good break from studying 🙂 I probably would have given up and either made a new cake or turned it into a trifle and just frosted over the top of it. Props for making it work. (And of course, Happy Birthday to Sophie.)

  56. aipi says:

    I just want to grab all those gorgeous pops and run away- what a delectable treat!
    US Masala

  57. Natalie says:

    how come my kitchen mess-ups never turn out as awesome as yours?!!? 🙂

  58. What a brilliant way to make it work! 🙂

  59. I’m rooting for you!
    That picture of the rainbow blobs of dough totally grabbed my attention!

  60. Miriam says:

    How amazingly delicious! I’m on your side and good luck! [email protected]Meatless Meals For Meat Eaters

  61. grace says:

    aren’t you clever! cake pops are tedious to make but oh-so-enjoyable to eat. nice save, joanne. 🙂

  62. megi says:

    Hi Joanne, disasters happen all the time in baking but you were able to make such pretty looking litte cakes and I bet they were delicious too. Happy birthday to Sophie, we were born on the same day. 🙂

  63. Have to say your baking flops look way better than my hits. They look amazing! And a great save!

  64. Ada says:

    This might be one of my favorite posts you’ve written, those cakes are just gorgeous! I’ve always wanted to work with fondant but have never mustered up the moxy to do so. The idea of a rubix cube cake is just genius, I’m sure your roommate was so happy.

    Also congratulations on the Marcus Samuelson gig, that is SO amazing! He spoke at my school last year and seemed like such a nice guy, plus I see him running in Central Park occasionally. It’s no surprise that they wanted you, your writing is amazing.

    Also, sorry to be a nag, but I have not yet received your mailing address for the coconut water giveaway. No worries if you haven’t had time to send it, I just want to make sure I’m not missing your email since sometimes emails get filtered to my spam.

  65. Tarte Tatin was born from a mistake… just sayin’! LOVE your curd recipe, can’t wait to try it! You can learn everything from baking– math, patience, how raw egg will NOT kill you even if eaten in mass quantities.. 🙂

  66. First I liked the picture with the fondants, then had a good laugh reading about the perfect cubic age, followed by another laugh remembering the rubix cube!And finally, OMG, mango curd cake pops: Definitely more innovative than a layer cake 😀 They look so good!

  67. I’m turning 27 on Monday! I didn’t even think of it in that respect but my husband is an accoutant so I’ll have to tell him this! I love when mistakes turn out well! It usually doesn’ thappen that way for me but hey…it happens!

  68. These are so adorable, I love them!

  69. La Liz says:

    Hah! Your Rubik’s cube idea is a brilliant 27th Birthday gift. At first I thought they looked like little crossword puzzles, but then I saw the three-dimensionality. 🙂

    Leave it to you, Joanne, to be so thoughtful and original. Superb!

  70. These look fab!So innovative!

  71. Kristen says:

    I have been in that fetal position many times because of misbehaving cakes. You made a superb save. I hope Sophie had a great birthday.

  72. I’ve never made anything like this! Just amazing! From disasters…comes masterpieces!

  73. In a way, disasters are much more educational than successes, and look what you came up with??? Fabulous! Hey… email me if you have any interest in going to D’Artagnan’s Duckathon on Sunday as a blog/reporter or if you can recommend any other NY bloggers I don’t know about… thanks!

  74. I’ve learned my lesson with parchment paper! The cake pops look amazing, what a great idea!

    Camila F.

  75. Those cake pops look absolutely crazily GREAT!

  76. Nutmeg Nanny says:

    You’re such a great roommate 🙂 These little cake pops look great. I think mini trumps whole a cake anyway. You can eat more but keep the illusion that it’s less b/c they are small.

  77. Deborah says:

    I’ve had more than one kitchen disaster! These look awesome!

  78. Nadji says:

    Une belle gourmandise. J’aime beaucoup.
    A très bientôt.

  79. I’ll cry if u dont win this time round , this prize is urs babe!
    U have come up with something deliciously very creative and hey !, i think they are v pretty too 🙂

  80. BigAppleNosh says:

    Very inventive – end result looks great 🙂

  81. Reeni says:

    Good save on the cake! You’re so sweet for baking for her! The flavors sound delectable. I’ve never worked with fondant either – these are adorable! I bet she loved them.

  82. I have to say, I’ve learned the put parchment in the cake pan when told to do so lesson (more than once). I don’t why I think I can get away with skipping that when specifically mentioned. At any rate, your end result is so cute, and the mango curd sounds amazing!

  83. In spite of the mishap it must have been delicious! What a clever idea with the Rubic’s Cube fondant. Your vanilla cake with mango cude sounds awesome!

  84. elle marie says:

    How did you get those striking colors? I can’t seem to get anything that bright with the food coloring I’m using?

  85. You are such a cool roomie! Who else would go to such trouble and keep trying?

  86. Maria says:

    Sometimes you really need to improvise! This looks like such a fun dessert!

  87. Kerstin says:

    So cute! Glad you were able to save the cake. I broke a cake in half once and just put it on the bottom layer and covered it and frosting and no one noticed – it was so stressful at the time though!

  88. sweetlife says:

    those are so cute!! i love the colors..i worked with fondant today and oh hell no…hell no never again!! lol


  89. Cake pops are more fun anyway. 😉 These look wonderful–I loves me some mango. 😉

  90. Yay, glad you were able to save the day! They look great, very creative!

  91. Cara says:

    If you want to try again… my birthday is August 23, and I will be 3x3x3+1. Does that count?

  92. theUngourmet says:

    I haven’t tried working with fondant…yet. The rubix cube idea is brilliant! Happy Birthday to Sophie!

  93. C&C Cakery says:

    You had me at mango curd – Beautiful colours (both inside and out!) Good luck in Dessert Wars!

  94. What a cute idea and yes mango curd sounds amaaazing!

  95. Johanna GGG says:

    these look so colourful and yummy – I thought you were going to add to your learnings that cake can collapse in a heap and still taste great even if it doesn’t look amazing to everyone. I spotted that they were rubix cube though not the perfect cube birthday. Says a lot about me – I know my 80s icons better than my maths – but I would happily eat any cake

  96. Amy says:

    These look amazing! I love the colors!

  97. Chris says:

    Listen to authority? Surely you jest!

    The Rubix Cubes are too cute, Joanne. Great thinking on your feet (or from a fetal position).

  98. Lori says:

    While my cake disaster of late had to do with my sheer clutziness rather than baking issues I still can relate. Thats not to say that I have not had a million cake disasters- cause I most certainly have.

    You made something really cool with your disaster though. My daughters were standing here totally intrigued with the colors.

  99. Veronica says:

    Cake pops are a God-send when it comes to ruined cake, which I’ve had many! I discovered the same thing recently with a chocolate cake, that sometimes you really do have to put parchment on the bottom of the pan. I was so mad b/c I’m the cake Queen, how dare the cake stick to my pan! LOL! Quick thinking making pops with the cake! Sounds super delicious.

  100. Oh, it can definitely be disheartening to have a major baking mishap. We’ve been there! But you made it work for the best. And they look so cute. 🙂

  101. Eliana says:

    Oh yes – I have learned many a life lessons when making cake. The most important – wear oven mitts when opening the oven (even if just to check). After 527 burns, I finally learned my lesson.

  102. Elizabeth says:

    that was a great idea. glad it worked out in the end.

  103. Shannon says:

    how in the world did i miss these??? MANGO CURD <3

  104. Elizabeth says:

    Ooooo. What an idea! I adore lemon curd but mango curd must be even better!

  105. What cute little rubix cube cakes!! Good for you for salvaging the dropped cake. I’m not sure I would’ve come up with what you did!

  106. These are just darling!!! You really made something unique and creative! I’d love to make these sometime! 🙂

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