Published on March 10, 2020

Have some of this Dirt Cake

By Janice Edwards / The Bulletin

Did you ever make mud pies when you were a kid? I know I did, but mine were usually made of sawdust from my Dad’s shop. It was easier to clean up after and to wash off my hands.

Funny thing. I had a tea set and I would make real tea and mud pies, and we’d have a tea party. We drank the tea but didn’t eat the mud pies.

Spring is in the air now, and thoughts of past mud pies and tea parties are circulating in my head. And that made me think of Dirt Cake - a real dessert that was popular in the late 80s and 90s, and it is one of the recipes in my first Seasoned Eatings from River’s End CDs.

The way you present the cake is the fun part. You buy and thoroughly clean a new plastic plant pot. Then, make the Dirt Cake in the pot and serve it with a new clean trowel. Did you ever make it? If you ever did, you would remember it – it’s mostly rich pudding and crushed Oreo cookies. The crushed Oreos look just like a rich dirt with white pieces of vermiculite in it.

I thought how much fun we had making it. Kids love it. One memory of making this cake is back when The Houston Canoe Club hosted a spooky campsite on Lake Texana for Halloween, and we had a potluck meal. You could bring anything, but it had to go along with a spooky theme. One year, I made the Dirt Cake, complete with gummy worms and the flower from the “Little Shop of Horrors” play/movie.

When it was time for dessert, no one “cut “my cake – they thought it was just a decoration. So, I started scooping out the delicious delight, and, of course, the kids lined up first. Soon they were busily devouring the sweet treat. As the last of the Dirt Cake found itself onto my plate, an angry mother confronted me.

“How DARE you put plastic fishing worms in a dessert for the kids, “ she scolded. I think she was more than just a little bit angered when I laughed. She had seen Roy and me fishing earlier and had mistaken the gummy worms in the Dirt Cake for plastic fishing worms we had been using to fish with. She calmed down when I pointed out that the gummy worms were melting – and I picked out one on my plate and ate it. After that, she had to eat crow, uh … dirt, – Dirt Cake that is.

So, when you have a luncheon where you want to serve something different, get you a plastic flower pot, a clean trowel, some gummy worms and some silk flowers (or edible ones). Plant them in your Dirt Cake, and watch the smiles erupt when you serve it. Below is the recipe – have some fun!

Dirt Cake
1 - 20 ounce package of Oreo cookies
1 – 8 ounce package of cream cheese
½ stick margarine
1 cup powdered sugar
2 packages instant vanilla pudding (6 serving size)
3 ½ cups milk
1 – 12 ounce carton Cool Whip
1 package gummy worms
Crush cookies. In a separate bowl, cream the following together: cream cheese, margarine, powdered sugar. In another bowl, blend milk and instant pudding together. Fold in cream cheese mixture into pudding with rubber spatula. Last, fold in Cool Whip.
In an 8- or 10-inch clean flower pot, layer mixture, crushed cookies, gummy worms to top of container with cookies on top layer. Place silk flower in center of pot and have a couple of gummy worms lying on top of the “dirt”. Serve with flower trowel.

(Write Jan in care of The Bulletin. Email: john.bulletin@gmail.com. Snail mail: The Bulletin, PO Box 2426, Angleton TX, 77516.)