Make a calorie-free cake.

This Valentine’s Day, don’t ply your love with rose petals and tinsel-wrapped chocolates. Instead, take a page from my personal cookbook and whip up this hyper-realist fake cake. The confection makes a great gift for anybody—even diabetics and dieters can enjoy the sweet gag. Put it in a pink bakery box or leave it on a windowsill to lure friends in. Then hand them a saw.



  • 2 cups ultra-lightweight spackle
  • 1 cup dry plaster of paris
  • 3 tbsps water (plus more)
  • 8″ round x 4″ high styrofoam cake form (hatboxes work well)
  • Glossy latex paint
  • Excelsior (optional)


  • Kitchen timer
  • Small bucket
  • 10″ frosting knife
  • Paintbrush


  1. Set your timer for 15 minutes (that’s how long you have before the “icing” sets, so you need to work fast).
  2. In a small bucket, mix the spackle, plaster of paris, and water using the frosting knife. Start with three tablespoons of water and continue adding more until you reach a smooth consistency. The icing should be light and fluffy, and not too wet or blobby.
  3. Starting with the sides first—and using a liberal hand—frost the cake form.
  4. Let it set overnight.
  5. The next day, when the icing is dry to the touch, paint the cake (see tip).
  6. Give to sweet-toothed friends.

TIP: Use brown paint for chocolate, yellow for lemon, green for pistachio, or cream for French vanilla. For toasted-coconut shavings, add cut-up pieces of excelsior to the wet paint.