That means cake, cake, and more cake!
And, of course, now that they are in school, I have to think up cute things for them to take for their birthday treat for their friends IN ADDITION TO a cute birthday cake for their party (which could be challenging depending on the theme they choose). Thankfully my kids are flexible and I can usually convince them that my "easier" version of their cake idea will be even more awesome.
This year, I got off easy with my youngest. Since she is only 2, she really doesn't know what she wants and really doesn't care about what her cake looks like. We did a dinosaur party and my cake was a total flop. I tried to use a cookie cutter to make dino shaped cupcakes. FAIL. So what the kids got was random shaped cupcakes out of the part of the cake that I didn't ruin. They didn't care. Sugar is sugar, right? I've got to step up my game for her next year, though, because 3 year olds are in a whole different league.
Next up is my son's 6th birthday. We had originally decided on a pirate party, but somewhere along the way he begged for a bowling party. Since I hadn't started on any of the decorations or planning, switching was easy. And I am SO glad we changed. Since we are going to a bowling alley for his party, I don't have to clean my house before OR after the party! Yay! This sounds like a cop out, but I clean ALL THE TIME. I jump at any chance for a break.
So back to the cake. I really try to make everything from scratch. I know it would be really easy, and pretty cheap, to go get a box of cake mix and can of icing. But I can't pronounce some of the ingredients, and really, I have everything I need in my pantry. And, thanks to the internet, I have thousands of recipes at my fingertips (this is one of those times that I am very grateful for the internet..... there are other times that I hate it, but this is not the place to discuss that).
Today I have to take my son's treat to his school. I decided to make cake cones. I've never actually made any (or eaten any) but I remember seeing them as a kid and thinking it was SO cool. It's really easy too. All you do is line up your cones in a baking dish (I used a rectangular cake pan) and fill them half way with cake batter. You can't see it, but I put a few chocolate chips in the bottom of the cone before filling them with batter as an extra special surprise when the kids eat them. (I'll get better at taking pictures to post.... I'm still new at this blog thing). Bake at 350 for 25 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Let them cool completely and top with your favorite icing. I added sprinkles because what kid doesn't like sprinkles?
I used Keebler brand cones as well as Safeway store brand. I figured there was no difference. There IS a difference. Definitely spring for the name brand cones in this case. (When they are on sale there really isn't much price difference anyway).
So, here are the recipes I used for the cake and icing.
Cake: This could possibly be the best, light, fluffy, moist chocolate cake I've ever had. And it is SO simple to make. I won't rewrite the recipe here since they have great instructions at this link: Hershey's "Perfectly Chocolate" Chocolate Cake.
Icing: This is my "go to" recipe when I need a quick, easy vanilla buttercream. I don't remember where I got the recipe because it's scribbled on a scrap of paper in my recipe box and I've had it forever.
1/2 c. butter (softened)
1 lb. powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
3 Tbsp. milk
When making icing, it is really important that your butter is room temperature. Beat it with you mixer on medium for a minute or so to make it creamy and fluffy. Add vanilla and milk and beat until mixed with butter. Add sugar a bit at a time and beat into butter mixture. Continue beating until it reaches the consistency you are looking for (depending on if you are spreading or piping the icing). You can add a little extra milk if you need to thin it out, or a little extra sugar to thicken it.
For my cake cones, I spooned the icing into a piping bag with tip (you can use any tip you want) and then piped it on in a swirl pattern. I learned that putting ALL of the icing in the bag at one time makes it hard to pipe. I would recommend putting half in..... pipe some of your cakes.... and then refilling the bag with the rest of the icing to finish.
I will update this post with my son's party cake and my daughter's treat and cake next month.
The last thing any of us needs is more stress. I'm trying to "not sweat the small stuff" as best I can and keep my life simple. I hope my recipes, tips, and experiences can help YOU keep YOUR life simple, even during the birthday party craziness.