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Sep 16, 2008 09:44 AM

perfect party cake for kids

this birthday party is also a halloween party. since the cake is for kids and they tend to be picky with flavors, i am considering a basic white cake with buttercream frosting. people have suggested using dorie's perfect party cake as the cake.

ideas for the decorating and fillings are needed bc all i've come up with so far are orange sprinkles on the outside or tinting the buttercream orange!


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  1. You can do the basic pumpkin shaped cake where you put make two cakes (using a bundt pan) and stack them with the tops together, frost orange, use hohos for the stem. Along this idea:

    Another thing that's fun is making it look like a grave yard. You can use milanos, pip RIP on top and use them as tombstones, crushed oreos for dirt, gummy worms coming out. Buy little pumpkin candies, Peeps ghosts, etc. to decorate.

    Or, make a spider shaped cake (big circle for body, little one for head, licorice for arms), carve on the inside of the body, fill with red colored pudding and gummy worms, then frost. When you cut it, red blood and worms ooze out.

    You could make a brain. Bake in a stainless steel bowl. Cut in half, then cut pieces off the edge, reassemble for brain shape. Frost gray frosting w/ piping bag w/ large circle tip, or with plastic bag w/ edge clipped off so you get thick lines. Edge w/ red dye so the blood.

    I'm thinking I've made too many Halloween cakes over the years.

    2 Replies
    1. re: chowser

      Sounds like you've made one or two Halloween cakes over the years ;)

      They all sound wonderfull creepy - especially the oozing spider ...I'm thinking I'll have to save that one for when my kids are a bit older lol. The graveyard sounds like just the thing for this year - thanks chowser, and thanks midtownDiner for the OP. I just picked up DS's dragon costume (our Old Navy had them at 30% off!) and that got me thinking we had to start planning Halloween...still not sure if I'm going to organize a party... The cake/cupcake ideas and a browse through has made me think maybe I should :)

      1. re: maplesugar

        chowser: great blog and what creative ideas. i really like your blog too. milanos are a neat idea and graham crackers would also make amazing tombstones! i have seen white chocolate covered twinkees that look like little ghosts- very cute.

        i'm not sure that i want to do a halloween cake. i guess i want to do something a little "pretty" bc that's more my style. i guess i'm curious about the flavors to use in a cake for kids and hinting at the halloween theme rather than going all out.

        any ideas?

    2. I guess it depends on how creative you want to get with the cake. You can make a regular 9x13 cake and ice it like you would normally do. Then take a bag of Oreo cookies, remove the filling and crumble up the cookie bits and sprinkle on top of the cake. Then, take lollipops with the wrappers on and drape them with a piece of toilet paper to make ghosts (you can put a little bit of icing between the toilet paper and the lollipop to help it stick or use a piece of string to tie just under the lollipop head) and use the sticks to stick them in the cake (you can use a black marker to make faces on the ghosts too). Then take Lady Finger cookies and stick them into the cake half way to make tombstones ( you can decorate these too if you like). Here you have a somewhat spooky graveyard cake and you can add anything else you like that you may find at the store.

      1 Reply
      1. re: ginagoolsby

        gina: thanks! see above - love the idea of tombstones.... but i guess i want a more traditional cake.

      2. We've found from a practical aspect that cupcakes work well at a kid's party, especially those younger ones eating the minis with their tiny hands...

        1. Would you consider cupcakes? Here's a link to Martha Stewart's Halloween cupcake page. Check out the pumpkin cupcake, Eerie Edibles, and the little ghosts right underneath that.

          1. thanks for the great ideas!

            nemo/bulava: i have considered cupcakes and i'd love to do that but since this isn't my kid, i wanted to keep it simple! also, i have to carry this in a car and a cake is easier to transport.

            i've tried to recreate too many martha stewart recipes and they never look as beautiful as hers so i've given up.

            keeping with traditional cake, what flavors can i do that kids will like? my current ideas:

            a. base: dorie's white cake

            b. frosting: dyed orange but what type - white buttercream? vanilla cream cheese from the cake bible? i'd love to do an orange frosting and then pour a chocolate glaze over top so that it drips down the sides but i'm not sure that's easy to transport.

            c. decorating: chocolate sprinkles or crushed chocolate wafers along the top and sides? tiny plastic spiders crawling up the cake? one giant chocolate spider in the center?

            6 Replies
            1. re: midtownDiner123

              In my experience, kids like many kinds of cake, as long as it's not too fancy. You'll do great with Dorie's white cake, and then a white buttercream. My preference is for a cooked buttercream , but when the audience is all kids I generally use powdered sugar and butter, with a bit of water and vanilla extract. This is delicious to kids and not repulsive to adults.

              If I were making a flat Halloween cake (didn't want to go the bundt cake pumpkin route) that was more elegant than gross, I'd probably pipe a sweet pumpkin or jackolantern and lots of vines on it. I'd add green or orange borders, and possibly write a mesage like Happy Halloween.

              1. re: midtownDiner123

                a) As cakes go, I haven't tried Dorie's, though it's on my list. I love Cooks Illustrated Best Recipe white cake. And you can't beat Restaurant Eve's yellow cake:


                My easy go-to cake for kids is the Black Magic Cake (it calls for coffee, you can use hot water or decaf but I figured it's not that much caffeine for a whole cake). It's very dark brown, perfect for halloween.


                b) as frosting goes, kids aren't picky at all. I remember once spending a couple of days making a chocolate truffle cake for a party, frosting with buttercream but using Crisco buttercream for the decorations on top so it would hold the form and the kids fought over the Crisco cream but left the cake. But, Dorie Greenspan also has a chocolate cake w/ a whipped egg white frosting that tastes like marshmallows that kids love. I can't remember the name of the cake but it has cookies and cream around the edge.

                But your idea sounds great. You could use the orange buttercream, refrigerate (or freeze for 10 minutes or so) and pour chocolate ganache over it. When refrigerated, it'll be fine to transport.

                c) Crush cookies and press them to the sides of the cake. Save the orange frosting to write on top of the cake. If you want something more like a regular cake, I'd pipe vines w/ green frosting and then add candy pumpkins to it.

                1. re: chowser

                  thx chowser!

                  a) cake - i forgot that i've always wanted to try the hershey's deep dark chocolate cake since i hear amazing things about it and i wouldn't have to worry about the coffee part. what do you think? a dark cake goes better with the halloween theme too.

                  b) i'll look up dorie's recipe. do you have a recipe for ganache and is that overkill to do dark chocolate cake, buttercream, AND ganache?

                  c) pumpkins, sprinkles, or spiders in orange frosting instead of the ganache?

                  1. re: midtownDiner123

                    The deep dark chocolate cake is great for Halloween. It really is a dark chocolate, almost black. I was trying to find this link to a foodnetwork cake that was chocolate, with a layer of white buttercream, covered with chocolate ganache. It's a very elegant cake with the white buttercream to break up the chocolate, and when I want something fast that's pretty, it's what I do. I can't find it right now but will post if I do. You make the cake, frost and freeze for 10-20 minutes (want it cold, not frozen) and pour chocolate ganache over it.

                    But, I think if I were doing it, I'd stick with orange buttercream, use chocolate ganache to make a spider web (pipe concentric circles on the top of the cake and draw a toothpick through). If I wanted to go farther, I'd make different size whoopie pie cookies and make spiders out of them, and use the ganache to draw the legs. But, you could just as easily pipe spider shapes w/ the ganache (or let it cool and shape the spiders by hand, like truffles...).

                    Spider web idea:

                    I still like the crushed cookie on the outer edge of the cake with that.

                    The chocolate ganache frosting I usually use is this one:


                2. re: midtownDiner123

                  A few years back my daugher asked for a "Halloween in March" birthday party. I thought it was a pretty cool idea for a 4-year-old to come up with and we went all the way with it. We had an ice cream cake but did the tombstones using Milano cookies. It looked great.

                  As far as flavors go, I always ask my daughter what she wants. It's her birthday, after all. Usually she asks for chocolate, This year she wanted mint frosting so I added droplets of peppermint oil to a basic buttercream and used green gel paste to get that "mint chocolate chip" green shade. Since that cake was 2 layers, I made one yellow and one chocolate. This year's cake was a tae kwon do uniform and last year's was a space shuttle. When I do "construction" I take my cake and basic frosting recipes from "The Whimsical Bakeshop" (or is it Bakehouse?) by the owners of the Riviera bakery in Ardsley, NY. But if you want an orange frosting, try adding a few drops of Boyajian orange oil and some gel paste coloring.

                  Spiders are easy if you don't mind piping chocolate fudge. A large round blob for the body, a smaller one for the head, and 8 thin, slightly curved legs using a 2 or 3 tips, depending on the size of the spider. If you have red gel you can pipe two small eyes to make it even eerier. You can make them all different sizes for visual interest. Chocolate sprinkles on the side are a quick way to finish a cake and always appreciated by kids.

                  1. re: rockycat

                    rockycat- i asked the child's mom for her fave cookies and i really didn't get much of an answer beyond choco chip, brownies, or oatmeal raisin. she said she prefers vanilla so i was giong to do a white cake but i think the dark will be great. this isn't the only cake at the party : )

                    thx for the flavored oil ideas.