Valley of the Dolls Cake

This cake is perfect for the next time your bookclub reads Jacqueline Susann's classic novel, Valley of the DollsSusann uses "dolls" as a metaphor for her characters' dependency on pills. Our Valley of the Dolls cake uses pink cake balls to reference the cover of the 50th Anniversary reprint which stylizes pills into polka dots. It was food for thought during a recent Victory Club event with the manager of Jacqueline Susann's estate, Whitney Robinson. This time, it's ok to judge a book by its cover; it is indeed a delicious read! 



  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 3/4 t baking soda
  • 1 t salt
  • 1 stick butter 
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 t vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • Red & black food dye 

Buttercream Frosting:

  • 4 cups confectioners sugar
  • 1 t salt
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • (Up to) 1/2 cup of Heavy Cream
  • 3 t vanilla extract


  • Preheat oven to 350
  • Prepare two 4-inch cake pans and one cake ball pan by spraying with Pam.
  • In a medium bowl, mix flour, baking power, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  • Using a hand-held or stand mixer, beat butter and sugar on medium until fluffy. Then beat in vanilla.
  • Beat in eggs one at a time. 
  • Gently beat in buttermilk until just combined. 
  • Slowly add flour mixture until completely smooth. 
  • Divide batter into thirds. Add red food dye to one-third of the cake batter. (Red food dye combined with the white cake batter makes pink cake!) Add black food dye to the the remaining two-thirds of batter. 
  • Pour pink batter into cake ball pan and allow to bake for 25 minutes. (Note: best to put cake ball pan on a cookie tray to save your oven from spillage.)
  • While cake balls bake, pour enough black batter into prepared pans to cover the bottom. 
  • When pink cake balls are baked & cooled place 2-3 in each cake pan. 
  • Cover the cake balls with remaining black batter so that they are completely coated in black. 
  • Set to bake for 30 minutes. 
  • While cakes are in the oven, make the buttercream frosting. Using a handheld or stand mixer (fitted with a whisk), beat the butter on medium speed until smooth, about 2 minutes.
  • With the mixer running on low, add confections' sugar, vanilla extract, and salt.
  • Slowly add in the heavy cream as needed.
  • Increase to high speed and beat for 3 minutes.
  • Taste. Add an extra pinch of salt if needed.
  • Allow cakes to cool for 15 minutes and then remove from pans. 
  • Place cakes in fridge for at least 30 minutes, or until they feel cold and firm. 
  • If the cakes have formed round domes, cut off the bumps so they are flat. 
  • Spread buttercream between each layer.
  • Spread remaining frosting around the sides of the layered cake.
  • Apply #ChefanieSheet & enjoy!

40 minutes active time, 95 minutes total time. Serves 6.

Note: This cake batter is enough for two 4-inch cake pans. 

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