Rainbow Sprinkle Cake & a Festive “Candy Shop” Themed Birthday Party

The lollipop candles on this birthday cake inspired the theme for my daughter’s 10th birthday party. As soon as she saw them, about ten months before her birthday, she started planning a “Candy Shop” themed party.

Knowing we would have the guests watch the most classic candy movie, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, we invited her guests by hand delivering a “Golden Ticket” wrapped with a giant rainbow swirl lollipop. (The biggest ones we could find, of course.) 🙂

She imagined an abundant display of colorful candy and rainbow balloons. We had bowls of Skittles, M&M’s, mini-Starbursts, jelly beans, gummy bears, mini-marshmallows, mini-Twix (her favorite candy), and varieties of sprinkles. The centerpiece was a DumDum lollipop “topiary.”

The girls ate a lot of candy :/ , but they also used it to decorate chocolate covered marshmallows and chocolate-caramel apple slices. We also had pretzels for toppings- so yummy with chocolate. We tried to coat Oreos with chocolate as well, but had technical difficulties.

We had other candy-themed activities at the party including making candy necklaces on kitchen twine. They used Fruit Loops, gummy pendants, and gummy lifesavers as “beads.” They also played a game with Jelly Belly jelly beans- identifying the flavors by taste alone. Even though is wasn’t a candy-themed activity, the kids probably had the most fun having an iMovie competition.

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We had our traditional celebratory Number Cookies too. 🙂

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Having a cake covered in a mound of sprinkles seemed to work with our theme! The Rainbow Sprinkle Birthday Cake is a homemade take on a “Funfetti” cake mix cake. It was so colorful and fun, but also really REALLY delicious- super moist with fabulous vanilla flavor. The recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Julia Moskin. I weighed the ingredients, increased the amount of frosting, and modified the decorating techniques.

Rainbow Sprinkle Cake

Yield: 8-12 Servings (1 layer cake or 12 cupcakes)

For the Cake:

  • ½ cup/110 grams unsalted butter (1 stick), slightly softened, more for pans
  • 1 ½ cups/190 grams all-purpose flour, more for pans
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon fine salt
  • â…” cup/158 ml whole milk
  • 1 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup/200 grams sugar
  • 1 whole egg plus 2 egg whites
  • â…“ cup rainbow sprinkles (not pastel, or naturally colored)


For the Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 12 ounces cream cheese, slightly softened
  • 3/4 cup/165 grams unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), slightly softened
  • scant 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt, more to taste
  • 4 1/2 cups/450 grams confectioners’ sugar, sifted, more to taste
  • 3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup rainbow sprinkles (not pastel, or naturally colored), or more, as desired

Note: Frosting Proportions for a 3-layer Version: 16 oz cream cheese, 220 g butter, 600 g confectioners’ sugar, 1 tsp vanilla, 1/4 tsp fine sea salt.

  1. img_7880Make the cake: Heat oven to 325 degrees, preferably on convection, and place a rack in the center.
  2. Butter and line the bottoms of two 8-inch round cake pans with parchment paper. Butter the parchment. Flour the pans, coating the bottom and sides, then tap out any excess flour.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  4. In a small bowl, stir together milk and vanilla.
  5. In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes.
  6. Reduce speed to low and, with mixer running, slowly add egg and whites and beat until smooth and creamy, 1 to 2 minutes. Scrape down bowl.
  7. Add half the flour mixture, then the milk mixture, then the remaining flour mixture, beating to blend after each addition.
  8. Scrape down bowl and blend once more.
  9. Remove bowl and use a spatula or spoon to fold in sprinkles by hand.
  10. Divide batter evenly between the pans (approximately 400 g per pan), and bake until the tops are just dry to the touch and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Rotate the pans halfway through baking.
  11. Transfer pans to a wire rack and let cool completely, at least 2 to 4 hours, before turning out.
  12. Make the frosting: In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat cream cheese, butter and salt together at medium speed until light and fluffy, 2 minutes.
  13. Reduce speed to low and, with mixer running, slowly add sugar and beat until smooth.
  14. Beat in vanilla just until incorporated.
  15. Taste frosting; you should be able to taste the cream cheese and a little bit of saltiness, as well as the sweetness. If desired, add more salt or sugar. Keep refrigerated.
  16. Turn cooled cakes out of pans.
  17. Using a bread knife, cut off any domed or uneven parts of each cake to make flat surfaces.
  18. Place one of the cakes on a platter or a cake stand, cut side up.
  19. Using an offset spatula, frost the top.
  20. Stack the other layer on top, cut side down.
  21. Place remaining frosting on top of the cake and, working from the center outward, frost the top and sides of the cake, as desired. I piped a border around the perimeter of the top of the cake to keep the thick coating of sprinkles on top in place.
  22. Sprinkle the top with a thick layer of sprinkles. Coat the sides with sprinkles as well, if desired.
  23. Refrigerate cake 30 minutes or longer to set. Serve cool.

Note: This recipe would also work well for cupcakes. Fill batter in 12 cupcake liners and bake 17-20 minutes, on convection.

One Year Ago:

Two Years Ago:

Three Years Ago:

Four Years Ago:

It was so tasty, I’ve already made it again! 🙂 I think it might need THREE layers next time. We all absolutely love it.

Black Hole Birthday Cake

I am terrified by the concept of a black hole. Massive collapsing stars with such a strong gravitational pull they are swallowing up surrounding stars out there in the galaxy. It makes me feel like such a little helpless speck on this Earth…. On the other hand, my now 10-year-old son loves thinking about the concept of a black hole- completely fascinating (but still scary!) for him. 🙂 He has such an interest in astronomy and things greater than we are here on our little planet.

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I am also frightened to have four 9-year-old boys sleepover at my house! Well, I recently had to conquer these fears in order to celebrate my son’s birthday. All he wished for was a black hole birthday cake and a sleepover party. We all survived! (The cake was tasty- not scary- and we had fun!) 🙂

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This vanilla bean bundt cake recipe was adapted from Bon Appetit, via Sweetapolita. The original recipe calls for lemon extract in the cake batter as well as a vanilla bean glaze over the top of the cake. I omitted the lemon extract because of my son’s preference for a pure vanilla cake. (Personally, I think it would have been tastier to include it!) After a bit of a struggle about how to create a black hole out of a vanilla cake, I replaced the vanilla glaze with a dark chocolate ganache in order to make the black hole “black“! The ganache was delicious, but I included the recipe for the vanilla bean glaze below because it sounds like a lovely alternative. The dark chocolate ganache recipe was adapted from Food and Wine. I melted the chocolate over a double boiler until it was completely smooth before drizzling. OR…Forget the glazes- this cake would be just as delicious simply dusted with confectioners’ sugar. I love how a simple dusting lets the beautiful shape of the cake steal the show.

I can’t believe my son is TEN!!! 😦 (For the second year in a row, he requested that his Birthday “Number Cookies” be Roman Numerals!)

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For the Vanilla Bean Bundt Cake:

  • 3 cups (375 g) all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon (4 g) baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2 g) baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon (4 g) salt
  • 1 cup + 2 tablespoons (2-1/4 sticks)(255 g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1-3/4 cups (350 g) granulated sugar
  • 2 vanilla beans, halved lengthwise or 2 tablespoons (30 ml) vanilla bean paste
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/4 teaspoon (1.25 ml) pure lemon extract, optional but recommended
  • 1 cup (240 ml) buttermilk, at room temperature

For the Vanilla Bean Glaze:

  • 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped or 1 tablespoon 915 ml) vanilla bean paste
  • 2-3 tablespoons (30-45 ml) whole milk
  • about 1 cup confectioners’ sugar

For the Dark Chocolate Ganache Glaze:

  • 3 oz dark bittersweet chocolate,  finely chopped/shaved  (I used 72% cacao dark chocolate)
  • 1/2 T corn syrup
  • 1/2 T unsalted butter
  • pinch of coarse salt
  • 5 T heavy cream

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For the Cake:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (convection) with rack in middle. Generously butter pan and dust with flour, knocking out excess.
  2. Weigh and then whisk together dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  3. Beat together butter and sugar in an electric mixer at medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Scrape seeds from vanilla beans with tip of a paring knife and add into butter mixture, reserving pods for another use, and beat until well combined, about 1 minute.
  4. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in lemon extract (if using) until well combined. At low-speed add flour mixture and buttermilk alternately in batches, beginning and ending with flour mixture, mixing until just combined.
  5. Pour batter into pan, smoothing and spreading evenly. Gently tap pan on counter to eliminate air bubbles.
  6. Bake until the tip of a knife or skewer inserted into center of cake comes out clean, about 40 to 45 minutes on convection, or up to one hour in a standard oven. Cool in pan 1 hour, then invert onto a rack and cool completely, about 1 hour more.
  7. Once the cake has cooled, drizzle glaze (vanilla bean glaze OR chocolate ganache glaze OR confectioners’ sugar) over top.

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For the Vanilla Bean Glaze:

  1. Split vanilla bean and scrape seeds into whole milk. Let sit in a spouted container, such as a large pyrex measuring cup, for about an hour.
  2. Add confectioners’ sugar gradually, whisking, until you get desired consistency–about 1 cup.
    You want to make sure that it’s not too runny, or it won’t dry white on the cake, and will run off too quickly. It should take a few seconds to whisk it, and it will feel too thick at first–keep whisking until you get desired thickness. If too thick, add a teaspoon or so of the vanilla milk.

For the Ganache Glaze:

  1. In a small saucepan, bring the cream to a boil.
  2. In a heatproof bowl, combine the remaining 3 ounces of chopped chocolate with the salt, corn syrup, and butter. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and let stand until melted, about 5 minutes. Whisk until smooth. (At this point, I had to gently continue heating the mixture over a double boiler while constantly mixing until smooth.)
  3. Briefly let the ganache glaze cool until thick but still pourable.
  4. Drizzle the ganache over the cooled cake. Let the cake stand until the glaze is set, at least 30 minutes, before serving.

One Year Ago:

Two Years Ago:

Minecraft Enderman Cake

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An Enderman is a character in a video game called Minecraft. My son and his friends LOVE Minecraft. It is the “LEGO” of the video game world, building worlds, etc. I think that my son is drawn to the Enderman character in particular because it has the ability to teleport in order to avoid danger- how cool! 🙂

My son- who was also an Enderman for Halloween this year- requested an Enderman cake for his 9th birthday party at Lazerland! (For those of you without a young boy in your household Lazerland is Laser tag.) I realized that this cake could have used an additional layer to make it more “Enderman-esque” (more of a cube) but I didn’t have a large enough crowd to warrant a 4-layer cake. I made two layers of Classic Yellow Cake (almost a pound cake- my son’s favorite) with a “Busy Day Chocolate Cake” in-between. I had to weigh the batter in order to split in in half (weight below) because I only have one 9-inch square pan. I used vanilla buttercream as the filling between the layers (twice the recipe), and chocolate frosting on the outside- because an Enderman is black (close enough…). The chocolate frosting was very fudge-like and decadent. The cake was HUGE and delicious.

I made the eyes when making our family’s traditional Number Cookies, sugar cookies cut into the number of the birthday being celebrated.  I didn’t need my number “9” cookie cutter to make Number Cookies for my son’s birthday this year– he decided he wanted Roman numerals!! 🙂 We gave the cookies to our birthday party guests with an explanation: IX = 9! 🙂 He is a character.

For the Classic Yellow Cake: 

Recipe from Williams-Sonoma Kitchen

Yield: Makes 2 layers or 2 square cakes (each half of the batter weighs 2 lbs 8.5 oz)

  • 4 1/4 cups (530 g) cake flour
  • 1 T plus 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 1/4 cups (560 ml) milk
  • 1 1/2 T vanilla extract
  • 20 T (2 1/2 sticks / 315 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 1/2 cups (625 g) granulated sugar
  • 5 large eggs
  1. Have all the ingredients at room temperature.
  2. Preheat an oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour the 9-inch square cake pan(s).
  3. To make the cake, over a sheet of waxed paper, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.
  4. In a small bowl, combine the milk and vanilla; set aside.
  5. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the flat beater, beat the butter on medium speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add the granulated sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with the milk mixture beginning and ending with the flour. Beat each addition until just incorporated, stopping the mixer occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  6. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan(s) and spread the batter evenly. Bake until the cake begins to pull away from the sides of the pan and a toothpick inserted into the enter comes out clean, 35 to 45 minutes. Transfer the pan(s) to a wire rack and let cool completely.

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For the Chocolate Frosting:

Recipe from Williams-Sonoma Kitchen

  • 8 oz (250 g) unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped (I used Trader Joe’s 72% cacao dark chocolate)
  • 1 1/3 cups (345 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3 cups (375 g) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  1. To make the frosting, in a heatproof bowl set over but not touching simmering water in a saucepan, melt the chocolate; let cool to room temperature.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the flat beater, beat the butter on medium speed until smooth, about 30 seconds. Add the confectioners’ sugar and beat until smooth, creamy and slightly fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in the melted chocolate, scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl to evenly distribute the chocolate.

To Frost the Cake:

  1. Place one Yellow Cake layer, top side down, on a serving plate. (I place pieces or parchment paper around the edge of the cake to keep the serving plate clean.) Using an icing spatula or a knife, spread half of the vanilla buttercream frosting evenly on top. (The recipe was doubled.)
  2. Place the “Busy Day Chocolate Cake” on top. Spread the other half of the vanilla buttercream evenly over the top.
  3. Place the final Yellow Cake layer on top, top side down. Spread the chocolate frosting over the top and sides of the cake. Remove the protective parchment paper, if using.
  4. Refrigerate the cake for 30 minutes before serving to set the frosting. (I refrigerated the cake overnight.)

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One Year Ago:

Vanilla Bean Birthday Cheesecake

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My husband spends a lot of time planning his birthday dinner menu, but every year I make him a birthday cheesecake. I try a new recipe almost every year. I made this cheesecake last year for the first time and it was the best I’ve ever made. Super creamy with great vanilla flavor. Nothing beats vanilla bean in a cheesecake! 🙂 I have made cheesecakes in the past with various types of crust- we definitely prefer a graham-cracker crust; this one is great. This recipe was adapted from Martha Stewart Living. We enjoyed it after a meal of Mustard Chicken with roasted asparagus and baby red potatoes. DELISH.

  • Yield: Makes one 9-inch cake
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups graham-cracker crumbs (about 11 crackers)
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 2 pounds cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise
  • 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • Pinch of coarse salt
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. In a microwave safe dish, melt 5 tablespoons butter. In the bowl of a food processor, chop graham-crackers into crumbs. Then combine graham-cracker crumbs and 1/4 cup sugar. Pulse in melted butter until the crumbs are moist. Pour mixture into a 9-inch springform pan; using the bottom of a dry measuring cup, press firmly, forming a 1/2-inch crust up sides of pan. Bake until set, 10 (convection) to 15 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack.
  2. Reduce temperature to 275 degrees. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat cream cheese until smooth. Slowly add remaining cup sugar. Scrape in vanilla seeds; reserve pod for another use. Beat until well combined, about 3 minutes.
  3. Drizzle in eggs, one at a time, stopping occasionally to scrape down bowl. Beat in sour cream and salt. Pour batter into crust.
  4. Bake cheesecake until sides have set but center appears soft, about 1 hour 20 minutes to 1 hour 30 minutes, on convection, 1 hour 45 minutes in a conventional oven. Transfer pan to a wire rack to cool. Run a paring knife around the outside of crust, loosening it from pan. When cool, cover tightly with plastic; let set at least 4 hours or overnight.

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