A Dinosaur Cake For Amesy's 1st Birthday! by Lindsey | Dolly and Oatmeal

baby-friendly dinosaur "smash" cake | dolly and oatmeal

we celebrated amesy's 1st with confetti balloons, a little taco and guac spread, our dear family, a couple of birthday portraits, and some dinosaur cake!  i had planned his birthday a bit more elaborately in my head months back. but it turns out all he needed was some balloons, tickles and love from his fam, and some smash-friendly cake.  i know i mentioned that i was going to try and make his cake in the shape of an actual dinosaur.  clearly that didn't happen.  because as it turns out, i'm not a magician, nor am i that talented in the cake decorating/intricate icing department.  i'm reaaaaally good at complicating situations so i took a step back from the endless cake scenarios playing out in my mind and thought about ames, and what he might like.  he's a pretty easy going babe, so a simple, easy-peasy mini cake, some cookie "dirt", and a plastic dinosaur on top was going to be perfect for him.  i'm not sure whether he enjoyed the happy birthday song, the smashing part, or the actual eating of the cake more, but he definitely had fun at his little party :)  

at one point when frank and i were setting up amesy's party, i was kind of struck with this profound parent-y feeling.  i've been at parties, helped set them up, thrown shindigs for friends, etc. but it was different and so, so special making a little party for him that it kind of surprised me a bit by how much it struck me.  i didn't think being a mom would change in any way.  and to a certain degree i'm exactly who i was, but being a mama to ames is the very best feeling i've ever felt and could ever feel.  it's similar to how i would feel every christmas morning when i was a kid, i'm just so excited to spend the day with him and see how he takes in his young world.  

anywho, let's talk cake.  this baby cake is grain free and a made with almond and cassava flour.  it's sweetened with banana puree, some coconut sugar (which is completely refined sugar free), and a few drops of stevia.  the frosting/whip is just straight up coconut fat from a can of refrigerated coconut milk with a few drops of stevia (not that i think he would have noticed if it weren't sweetened).  i chose the ingredients carefully here because i wanted it to be cakey and enjoyable as a sweet treat for ames, but i also didn't want his blood sugar sky-rocketing out of control.  and judging by amesy's reaction, i think i found a really great balance of both with this cake.  yay!  and it's even good for adults too! my dad and brother ate their fair share ;)  

peace & love. xo!

baby-friendly dinosaur "smash" cake | gf/df/grain free/refined sugar free

i know cassava flour is hard to come by in some areas, and quite expensive.  while i haven't tried it, arrowroot powder would probably make a great substitute.  

| makes one 3-tiered, 3-inch layer cake |

  • 1 1/4 cups almond flour
  • 1/2 cup cassava flour
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar
  • 1/3 cup cacao powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup banana puree (roughly 2 bananas)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk, room temp
  • 1/2 cup liquid coconut oil
  • 2 pasture raised eggs, room temp
  • 4-6 drops liquid stevia
  • 1 cup ground chocolate cookies (i like these or a homemade version), for "dirt"
  • dinosaur figurines 


  • 1 can full-fat coconut milk, refrigerated for at least 24 hours
  • 4 drops liquid stevia

adult-friendly chocolate dinosaur cake

  • this recipe, substituting the olive oil for coconut oil


  • 1 cup non-hydrogenated palm shortening
  • 1 cup powdered coconut sugar (i followed ashlae's recipe here, and used 1 cup coconut sugar, and 2 tablespoons arrowroot powder)
  • 1/4 cup cacao powder
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons unsweetened almond milk


  • preheat oven to 350°F, and grease and line the bottom of a 9-inch round cake pan with at least 2-inch sides.
  • in a large bowl, whisk together the almond flour, cassava flour, coconut sugar, cacao, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  
  • in another large bowl, whisk together  the banana puree, milk, oil, eggs, and stevia.
  • mix the wet ingredients into the dry and stir until combined.  pour the batter into the cake pan tilting it to get the batter evenly dispersed.  bake in the center of your oven for 30-35 minutes, until a cake tester or toothpick come out clean.
  • place the cake on a rack to cool.  once the cake is completely cool invert it onto a piece of cling wrap.  refrigerate the cake for at least 5 hours, or overnight.
  • use a 3-inch round biscuit cutter to cut three layers out of the cake.  (there will be quite a bit of cake remnants.  i used small cookie cutters to make bite-size cakes for amesy's cousin and other guests.)  
  • make the coconut whip.  turn the coconut milk can upside down and open it from the bottom.  pour out the coconut water (you can reserve it for smoothies, etc.) and scoop the coconut fat from the can into a bowl.  using an electric mixer on medium speed, mix the whip until it's fluffy.  add the stevia and mix again.  cover with cling wrap and refrigerate until you're ready to use it.
  • use an offset spatula to frost the top of one cake layer, add the other top and add the same amount of coconut whip, add the last layer and frost the top and sides with a thin layer of whip.  refrigerate for roughly 30 minutes, and then frost with another layer (a second layer isn't totally essential, but because the cake is chocolate, the coconut whip will turn slightly brown with one layer if it's sitting long enough.) add cookie crumbs to the bottom of the cake and little on top.  plop a dinosaur on top, and let the smashing begin.
  • large chocolate dinosaur cake

  • follow the method here, but instead of using a bundt pan, grease and line two. 6-inch round cake pans, and line the bottoms with parchment paper.
  • bake the layers until the a cake tester or toothpick comes out clean, about 35-38 minutes.  let the layers cool completely.  wrap them in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 5 hours or overnight.
  • make the frosting.  add the shortening to a large bowl.  sift in the powdered coconut sugar and cacao; add the vanilla and milk. mix together using an electric mixer on medium low until the frosting is fluffy and creamy.
  • frost the top of one layer, then place the other layer on top.  frost the tops and sides with a thin layer to coat it.  refrigerate for 30 minutes, then frost the top and sides again in a final, thicker layer.  add the cookie crumbs to the bottom of the cake, and make little mounds on top of the cake. decorate with dinosaurs, and slice and serve the cake.

baby-friendly dinosaur "smash" cake | dolly and oatmeal

similar recipes:

chocolate layer cake w/ macadamia mousse & coconut whip

chocolate layer cake w/ macadamia mousse & coconut whip

cookies 'n cream cake

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a cookies 'n cream birthday cake! by Lindsey | Dolly and Oatmeal

it's birthday week over here at casa de love. me and frank's birthdays are within 3 days of each other - his before mine - and so for 3 whole days we're the same age, which for some reason is a big deal to me! we're celebrating a little bit each day. there was a rosh hashanah/bday party at my parent's house to start the week off, then a celebratory dinner at a super duper restaurant we love, we also played hooky from work and took a much needed beach day, and then there was this cake!    originally i had intended on making a larger, more monstrous cake, but then i remembered we're turning a year older and perhaps i should be more kind to our 30-something year old waists.  

aside from canned tuna fish and thai food, frank is the kind of person who is happy with whatever you feed him, so i generally (or selfishly) prepare whatever i feel like eating.  but if there's one thing he's super vocal about it's his love for anything cookies 'n cream related. back a few years ago (way before the blog) i had made him a cookies 'n cream cake using store-bought chocolate cookies, tons of heavy cream and butter, and way too much sugar.  and i'm not sure any other cake i made ever measured up to that one for him, but i wanted to change that, so i endeavored to make a gluten-free and dairy-free version of that same cake.  

the homemade cookies here really make the difference i think; they're almost wafer-like and have subtle sweetness that don't make your teeth hurt.  the chocolate cake layers are rich and moist, somewhat brownie-like.  and then there's a super simple vanilla frosting to coat the cake, and a cookie frosting for the center, delivering that fundamental cookies 'n cream oomph!

big hugs, all! xo

cookies 'n cream cake (gf + df)

for a larger cake, this recipe can be doubled and baked in two 8-inch round cake pans, however check the cook time as larger cakes will take longer to bake - roughly 35-40 minutes.  if you're running short on time, the cookies can be store-bought, i would suggest using your go-to chocolate cookies, or there are some gluten-free and dairy-free oreos making the rounds at some grocery stores. i tried to keep the frosting as low in sugar as possible, but if you find that it's not sweet enough for your taste, feel free to add more.

| makes a double layer 6-inch cake |


  • 1 cup brown rice flour
  • 3/4 cup oat flour
  • 1/2 cup raw cacao powder
  • 3/4 cup coconut sugar
  • 1 teaspoon psyllium husk powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4 cup unrefined virgin coconut oil, melted
  • 5 tablespoons unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


  • 1/2 cup brown rice flour
  • 1/4 cup oat flour
  • 1/4 cup almond flour
  • 3/4 cup coconut sugar
  • 1/4 cup raw cacao powder
  • 1 teaspoon psyllium husk powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup unrefined virgin coconut oil, melted
  • 1 large pasture-raised egg
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup full-fat coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk


  • 2 cups non-hydrogenated palm shortening
  • 1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


make the cookies

  • in a food processor, add the dry ingredients and pulse.  with the motor running, add the oil, 4 tablespoons milk, and vanilla, blend until dough forms a ball - if your mixture does not form a ball add the remaining tablespoons of milk.  turn dough out onto a large piece of parchment paper, about 18-inches long; with your hands, roll the dough into an even 1 1/2-inch log.  wrap with the parchment and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
  • preheat oven to 350°F and line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.  with a sharp knife, slice the dough into 1/8-inch thick coins and place on cookie sheets.  bake for 10-12 minutes until firm and fragrant.  let cookies cool and place in a lidded container at room temperature until ready to use. cookies can be stored for up 4 days.    

make the cake

  • preheat oven to 350°F and oil two 6-inch round cake pans, then fit the bottoms of each pan with parchment paper; set aside.
  • in a large bowl whisk together the dry ingredients until thoroughly mixed, set aside.  in another large bowl, whisk together the oil and egg; whisk in the vanilla and milks until pale yellow.  in 2 applications, mix the dry ingredients into the wet until thoroughly combined.  divide the batter evenly into each pan and bake in the center of your oven for 30-35 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center of each cake comes out clean.
  • let cakes cool on a rack until cool to the touch, then invert each layer onto a large piece of cling wrap; wrap each piece and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight. 

make the frosting and assemble the cake

  • when you're ready to assemble the cake, make the vanilla frosting.  using an electric mixer, beat together the palm shortening, sugar, and vanilla on medium-high until smooth and creamy, set aside.  
  • in a food processor, pulse about 15 cookies until finely ground. in a separate bowl, combine roughly 3/4 cup of the frosting with 4-5 tablespoons of the ground cookies.
  • remove the cake layers from the refrigerator and place one cake layer on a cake stand or serving platter.  spread the cookie-frosting evenly over the top and sprinkle the top of the frosting liberally with more ground cookies.  place the second layer on top and frost the cake with the vanilla frosting; gently press more ground cookies onto the sides of the cake, or decorate as desired.
  • serve immediately. cake can be stored in the refrigerator covered with parchment paper for up to 3-4 days.


more cake recipes:

chocolate layer cake w/ macadamia mouse + coconut whip

chocolate layer cake w/ macadamia mouse + coconut whip

chocolate coffee layer cake (gf + df)

chocolate coffee layer cake (gf + df)

hazelnut layer cake w/ fig compote (gf + df)

hazelnut layer cake w/ fig compote (gf + df)

(gluten + dairy free) chocolate layer cake w/ cacao macadamia mousse + coconut whip by Lindsey | Dolly and Oatmeal

as the second year mark approaches for this here blog's existence, i find myself (as i mentioned in my last post) thinking more and more about why i began writing and creating here in the first place.  originally, i began documenting gluten-free and dairy-free recipes, both to have for myself, but also for others seeking a similar way of life.  i loved creating recipes, going back to them, seeing what worked - what didn't - and importantly, what felt good.  there was, and sometimes still is, a lot of confusion for me when it comes to meals, eating, digestion, and i find myself back in the midst of self-discovery and evolution at the moment where i'm re-learning and/or un-learning certain behaviors and food practices.  each day is a more intentional look at food and what it means for my entire body to digest a meal or snack, how different kinds of food grouped together can actually confuse the stomach and cause fermentation, or the fact that our gut has its own nervous system! i'm taking it all in and fascinated by the interconnectedness of it all!  

well, it's hard to segue from digestion to cake, but i'm super excited about this cake here!  it's one of the more luscious cakes i've ever made, but it's also really balanced in the sweetness department.  i'm pretty sure this is the first cake i've ever eaten without getting a crazy sugar high/low from, and you would never know it because this chocolate baby doesn't lack in richness.  the cake recipe was adapted from sarah's, the chocolate cake, and while i just added an additional egg for binding purposes and swapped in some dairy-free items, i'm pretty sure this cake can proudly stand up to the original. oh, and that cacao macadamia mousse...oh baby! it's one of the more exciting kitchen revelations over here as of late, and i'm super pumped to share the recipe.  whether you eat the entire bowl with a spoon, or mound it between two chocolatey layers of cake, you can't go wrong!  the macadamias add their lovely flavor, but also a super creamy and velvety texture that i was more than excited about.  i finished off the cake with a naked-ish coconut whip frosting that added (as my husband pointed out) a cookies 'n cream kind of flavor to it all - total bonus!  so here's to celebration, self-discovery, being adventurous and curious, and to CAKE!

**last week i had the privilege of speaking with Celine from Pure Green Magazine on their podcast; we chatted about my beginnings and what led up to me starting dolly and oatmeal, food, photography, tips, and some extra special news for the future!  you can listen to it here.

chocolate layer cake w/ cacao macadamia mousse + coconut whip (gluten + dairy free) 

cacao macadamia mousse (vegan)

i love the taste and texture of the macadamia mousse here, but if you don't have them or don't want to purchase them, cashews will work just as well in their place.  as mentioned below, the mousse needs to refrigerate for at least 3 hours or preferably overnight, so this is a great step to make the day before.

  • 3/4 cup raw macadamia nuts, soaked overnight

  • 1/4 cup raw cashews, soaked overnight
  • 2 tablespoons raw cacao powder
  • 2 ounces dairy free chocolate (about a heaping 1/4 cup), melted
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened plant-based milk
  • 1/4 cup grade B maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted 

chocolate layer cake (gluten + dairy free) adapted from sarah

as sarah notes, the batter will quite thin, but not to worry, it will bake up just fine.  if you are making this cake for children, i would suggest replacing the 1 cup brewed coffee for 1 cup hot water.  as mentioned below, the cake layers benefit from a couple of hours of refrigeration before frosting it; they can also be refrigerated for a 2-3 days if you want to make them ahead of time.

  • 1 cup brown rice flour
  • 1/2 cup oat flour
  • 1/2 cup almond flour 
  • 1 1/2 cups coconut sugar
  • 1/2 cup raw cacao powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
  • 1 cup full-fat coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable or coconut oil (if using coconut oil make sure it is melted)
  • 3 large free-range eggs
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup strong brewed coffee 

coconut whip

the coconut whip will stay white for the first day, but will continue to blend with the chocolate, so if you are not planning to serve immediately, wait to frost with the whip until ready to serve.

  • 1 can full-fat coconut milk, refrigerated overnight 
  • 2-3 tablespoons grade B maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • pomegranate seeds for decoration

cacao macadamia mousse

  • drain nuts and place in blender (preferably high-speed) along with cacao powder, melted chocolate, milk, maple syrup, vanilla, and salt.  blend until smooth adding more milk (about 1 teaspoon at a time) if you have trouble getting everything moving.  add the coconut oil and blend again for a couple of minutes, until smooth and creamy.  chill in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours or overnight.  remove from refrigerator 1 hour prior to use.

chocolate layer cake

  • preheat oven to 350°, grease two 8-inch round cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper.  set aside
  • in a large bowl, whisk the 8 dry ingredients together until mixed (break up any almond flour or cacao powder clumps) and set aside.  in another large bowl, mix together the coconut milk, oil, eggs, and vanilla, until pale yellow.  mix the wet ingredients into the dry until thoroughly combined; gently stir in the hot coffee.  evenly divide batter between cake pans and bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean.  transfer cakes to a rack and let cool for 30 minutes; turn out from pans and let cool completely; once cool wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight

coconut whip

  • turn can upside and open from the bottom; carefully pour the coconut water from can (reserve for smoothies, etc.,) and scoop out the hard coconut cream from the bottom.  place in a bowl and add 2 tablespoons maple syrup and 1 teaspoon vanilla; beat with an electric mixer until stiff and fluffy.  taste and adjust sweetness.  cover and place in the refrigerator until ready to use

assemble cake

  • remove cake layers and coconut whip from refrigerator (mousse should be out and coming to room temp. already).  spread the mousse over top of one cake layer, about a 1/2-inch thick.  place remaining cake layer on top and spread the coconut whip over top and sides of cake using an offset spatula.  decorate with pomegranate seeds and serve immediately