Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Who Needs Birthday Cake?

My oldest son is now a teenager. Wow! I'm not sure what I was expecting, some sort of sudden onset of moodiness and emotions, but he's still pretty normal, so I'm counting my blessings for now.  I'm still trying to wrap my head around the fact that he's going to be in high school soon, doing all the high-school-y things that kids do. I'm not really ready for that...

The thing about Max is that he's never been much of a cake guy. He likes cake, kind of, but doesn't really like frosting (I know, sacrilege!). He gets my creative juices flowing, though, to figure out something fun to celebrate his birthday, but with something that's not cake.

In the past, I've made a cookie cake (cookies stacked in layers with whipped cream, sort of like an ice box cake), ice cream cake (this one I made for Elliot, but I made one for Max with chocolate cake, peanut butter ice cream, and Reese's peanut butter cups chopped and scattered on top), and had root beer floats. This year, we had three different celebrations (family, then a sleepover with friends, then a larger neighborhood families party), so my challenge was particularly difficult. Luckily, Max had an idea of what he wanted, so I just had to figure out the execution.

For our family night, we had molten lava cakes with strawberry filling. Basically, I made a generic molten lava cake but added a teaspoon of strawberry sundae topping to the middle of the cake (1/4 cup of batter in the ramekin, then teaspoon of topping, then another 1/4-1/3 cup of batter on top). I love lava cakes, because you can prepare them ahead of time (like, hours) and put the ramekins in the fridge until you are ready to bake. And people love individual dessert. :-) Served it with vanilla bean ice cream, whipped cream and more strawberry sauce on top. Although I prefer the traditional molten lava cake, Max seemed to really like it, so I'll call it a win!

The next night, we went a little bit over the top. I made a skillet brownie (the linked recipe is the one I used, cutting the chocolate chips in half and adding 1/2 cup peanut butter chips),  then topped it off with vanilla ice cream, homemade chocolate and peanut butter sauces, whipped cream (natch!), chopped peanuts and chopped dark chocolate. Oh my word! That was GOOD!

Finally, for the larger party (about 10 kids and 11 adults), we did a sundae bar with different ice creams, fresh fruit (strawberries, blueberries), cookies, chocolate chips, nuts, sprinkles, whipped cream and lots of different sauces. It was a lot of fun, and the kids really enjoyed it! Unfortunately, I apparently didn't take a picture of the sundae spread, although I swear I did. The sundae bar was pretty easy, since it kind of built from the previous festivities. For Max's sleepover, we did a pancake bar, where I made pancakes and we had different syrups and fruits to put on top. We had stuff left over, so pretty much everything was already prepped for the ice cream sundaes (I did cheat and used canned whipped topping, because it's easy and fun - the kids could put their own on). :-)

What are your alternatives to birthday cake? I would love to hear about your ideas!

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