Bake one recipe yellow cake (this one is our go-to) in three 9-inch layers. Watch them carefully: since the cakes are thinner than normal, you may need to reduce the bake time by a few minutes (ours baked about 20 minutes). While they cool, make a batch of our easy Vanilla Frosting.
When you’re ready to assemble, place a swipe of frosting on the center of a cake stand or large plate. This will keep the cake from sliding around while you decorate. Slide 4 strips of parchment underneath the bottom layer in a square formation. (This makes it easy to clean up after you’ve decorated the cake, but more on that in a sec.) Generously frost the bottom layer, being sure to let the frosting peak over the edges. Flip the second layer and place it bottom-side up over the first: its super flat surface will make for a nice presentation. Frost the top, then go back and cover the sides. We like a mini offset spatula for this job.
Cut two egg shapes (the feet) and one 2-inch circle (the tail) out of the third layer. Cover those with frosting and place the feet toward the bottom of the cake, so that the wider sides hang off slightly. Place the tail just north of center. Cover the cake with toasted coconut, letting the excess fall onto the parchment, leaving the feet and tail naked. Place a couple of gingersnap cookies toward the top of the “feet” for the pads and a few peanut M&Ms in place for the toes (although Jordan Almonds would work nicely, too). Carefully slide the strips of parchment out from under the cake and dust off any excess coconut from your cake stand. For a cottontail effect, finish by dusting the tail with some untoasted sweetened coconut.