Tropical Island Birthday Cake Design

by Karen Tack

Tropical Island Birthday Cake Design

How to make a tropical birthday cake with vanilla wafers.


Download the template for this cake now!


Serves 16




  • 1 (8-inch) round cake
  • 1 (9-inch) round cake
  • 1 can plus 1 cup vanilla frosting
  • Blue food coloring
  • 4 plain breadsticks
  • 22 to 24 sticks Doublemint gum (green chewing gum)
  • ¼ cup white chocolate chips
  • 16 to 20 brown M&M’s
  • 1 green Jolly Rancher fruit chew
  • 1 wheat stick (Pringles)
  • 1 cup ground vanilla wafers


What you’ll need:


  • A serving platter
  • A bread knife
  • Clean scissors
  • Waxed paper
  • A baking sheet


Trimming the cake:


  1. Cut a 1 ½-inch-deep oval from the 9-inch cake (see template). Arrange the cakes on a serving platter as pictured. Place the remaining oval piece on top of the uncut 8-inch cake for the island.


Frosting the cake:


  1. Empty 1 can of vanilla frosting into a bowl. Tint the frosting blue with the food coloring. Stir in the remaining 1 cup of white vanilla frosting to achieve the white and blue swirl effect.
  2. Spread the frosting on the top and sides of the cake to cover completely. Use the back of a spoon to make swirls and waves in the frosting.


To complete the decoration:


  1. Cut the gum into long pointed ovals with clean scissors. Snip small diagonal cuts along the edge of the leaves (see diagram).
  2. Line a sheet pan with wax paper. Place the white chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl and microwave on high for about 30 seconds, pausing to stir every 10 seconds until smooth. Spread a thin layer of white chocolate on one side of each gum leaf. Curve leaves slightly into an arch, with the white chocolate on the inside of the curve.  Place each gum leaf on the prepared baking sheet on its side, so the chocolate does not touch the wax paper. Refrigerate until set, about 5 minutes.
  3. Reheat the white chocolate in the microwave for 10-15 seconds if necessary.  Dab the end of each breadstick with the melted white chocolate. Attach the firm leaves, about 5 to 6 leaves per breadstick, and lay the palm tree on the baking sheet. Refrigerate until set, about 5 minutes. Dab more white chocolate onto the palm tree where the leaves are attached to the breadstick. Press a few brown M&M’s on for the trees’ coconuts. Refrigerate again until set.
  4. Massage the green fruit chew into the shape of a bottle. Press a small piece of the wheat stick into the fruit chew for the cork. Press the bottle in the blue frosting for the floating bottle, as pictured.
  5. Sprinkle the vanilla wafer crumbs over the raised area of cake to form the island.
  6. Just before serving, insert the palm tree bread sticks into the island area of the cake. Place a few brown M&M’s into the sand around the trees.


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