How to Make a Stunning Melon Cake (with Tara Teaspoon)
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Tara Bench, founder of Tara Teaspoon, walks us through how to make a simply stunning melon cake for your next celebration.
For your next birthday party, consider making a vibrant and elegant melon cake. This no-bake treat is exactly what it sounds like: dessert made from layers of melon garnished with fresh fruit. It will function as a light, refreshing dessert and as a showstopper centerpiece!
This unconventional cake comes to us courtesy of Tara Bench, founder of Tara Teaspoon and author of the upcoming cookbook Live Life Deliciously. How did she develop the idea for these delightful melon-based cakes?
“Inspired by the fresh fruit of the season and intricate Japanese desserts, I created my melon cake recipe out of the desire to have a beautiful cake in the summer that didn’t heat up the kitchen,” Tara says. We love them, too—they’re the perfect addition to any summer birthday celebration, bridal shower or family BBQ.
Another thing Tara loves about her melon cakes? They’re the perfect dessert for accommodating any special dietary needs on your guest list. “If you’re cooking for those with special diets, a melon cake is genius,” she explains. “It’s a gluten-free dessert, and if you need to make it vegan, use whipped coconut cream or another vegan-friendly cream alternative.”
Tara walks us through how to make this “one in a melon” dessert that will surely help you and your loved ones “live life deliciously” at your next event.
How to Make a Melon Cake
Courtesy Tara Bench
Making a gorgeous melon cake really starts with choosing the right fruit at the store. Look at the size, shape and ripeness of the melons, mango and blueberries to pick out the very best.
- 1 large cantaloupe (or 2 small)
- 1 mango
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 1/2 pint fresh blueberries
- Toasted shaved coconut, for garnish
Step 1: Cut and shape melon
If using a single large melon, cut a 2-1/2-inch thick slice from the center. Then, slice a second 2-1/2-inch thick portion from one of the ends of the melon to use for the smaller top “cake” layer. If using 2 small melons, cut two thick slices from each melon for the cake, making one slice slightly smaller in diameter than the other.
Discard seeds from the slices and carefully trim the melon rind away, making the edges straight. You’ll likely have a hole in the center of your melon slices after scooping the seeds. Don’t worry, it will get filled later.
Tara’s Tip: Use a sharp knife to trim the rind off the melon before you cut it into layers. This will also help you see the shape of the fruit. Also, don’t be afraid to trim the fruit until it’s just the perfect shape. The extra trimmed scraps are great for snacking!
Step 2: Stack the melon layers
Once you’re pleased with the look and shape of your melon layers, carefully stack them on top of one another on a platter.
Tara’s Tip: Juicy fruit typically sticks to other juicy fruit. If your decorations aren’t holding their shape, simply use a toothpick or two to hold them in place. Just remember to let the eaters know where the toothpicks are!
Step 3: Slice the mango
Peel the mango and cut one side off of the pit. Then, cut the mango into very thin, flexible slices. Gently bend in half, layering them along the bottom edge of the cantaloupe—like a ribbon.
Step 4: Whip the cream
Using a stand mixer or electric hand mixer, whip the heavy cream and sugar together until stiff peaks form. Keep refrigerated until ready to decorate.
Step 5: Fill and add toppings
Fill the center of the the cantaloupe with extra diced fruit and cream. Then, pile the blueberries on top and sprinkle with toasted shaved coconut.
Tara’s Tip: Less is more. Too many fruit decorations will detract from the simplistic beauty.
How to Store and Transport a Melon Cake
Want to make your melon cake ahead of time? No problem! “Melon cakes can be made ahead and decorated—except for the cream,” explains Tara. To make ahead, wrap the melon cake in plastic wrap and keep refrigerated for several hours before serving. You can even transport the undecorated cake in a cooler.
When you’re ready to serve, whip the heavy cream, add a dollop to the top and garnish the cake as desired with fruit and nuts.
Clever Ideas to Customize Your Melon Cake
Tara encourages readers to be creative with their melon cakes and to “use my recipe as inspiration for their own creations.” The great thing about melon cakes is that they’re fully customizable to suit different taste preferences and seasonal produce. “Try different fruit when it’s in season,” Tara suggests. “Cherries, figs, blackberries, star fruit and citrus are all fun to decorate melon cakes with. I love playing off of the melon colors and decorating it with monochromatic fruits and complementary colors.”
What is Tara’s favorite melon cake? “One of my personal favorites is a watermelon cake,” she says. “There’s no hole in the center to fill, just a deep, sweet, juicy slab of watermelon to decorate and eat. I like to decorate mine with fresh cream, strawberries, raspberries and pistachios.” Sounds simply divine to us, Tara!
Live Life Deliciously by Tara Bench, aka Tara Teaspoon, comes out on October 6, 2020 and is available to preorder now through many independent book retailers and on Amazon.