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Alternative Birthday Cakes

Do you ever get tired of the same old birthday cakes? The typical boxed cake or bakery cake can get a bit boring, and in this blog post I will give you a few suggestions and recipes for an alternative cake or dessert to try for the next birthday party you host.

When my oldest son was still a baby, my sister and I took a cake decorating class at Michael’s craft store. I remember it being a lot of fun, and for quite a few years after that, I made a lot of “character cakes” for my kids out of the formed pans that go along with themes, and I even made a really pretty baby shower cake for one of my friends.

These days, I still make my own cakes for family birthdays, and I let each family member choose what they’d like for me to make for them. It’s funny how everyone has their own favorites, but I can’t remember anyone ever being actually disappointed by anyone else’s choice!

I’m going to include the recipes for our family favorites, and maybe you can try one of them for an alternative to the usual layered birthday cake. I was planning on making one of each of these recipes before writing this blog so that I could take pictures to show you what they all look like, but I ran out of time and there’s no way we could have eaten all of the examples, so I’m choosing to make MY favorite and will show you a picture of that one. For the others, I’ll give you the recipes and you will have to use your imagination as to how they will look. I promise you that they are all our family favorites and they are all delicious!

Cannoli Cake

My favorite cake is actually super easy. I found this recipe only a year or two ago on Pinterest, but the recipes I found were all too sweet, so the one I’m giving you is my variation of it and it’s just a little less rich than the original. The recipe is for a cannoli cake, and it’s so easy because it starts out with a cake mix. One thing that I remember learning during my cake decorating class is that they always recommended using Duncan Heinz over all of the other boxed brands because they said it is the most homemade tasting. I’ve never done a taste test to see, but that’s still the brand I always use.

This cannoli cake has a frosting that’s made with just ricotta cheese, mascarpone cheese, vanilla and powdered sugar. I’m addicted to this cake! I definitely don’t wait for a birthday to make this one, and my family became fans of it immediately, too.

If you have younger kids, I have something for you to try that I bet they will love. I shouldn’t say that it’s just for younger kids because my middle son chose it last year for his 23rd birthday, but it was always a big hit with my boys and their friends when they were little. We called it the cookie pizza birthday cake. You may have seen similar desserts, but I just kind of made this up one year and it was very popular so it was frequently requested on birthdays. The recipe is included, but basically you just take a pizza pan (I use a pizza stone) and use premade chocolate chip cookie dough as your “pizza crust”. My “sauce” was made using marshmallow fluff. I know, you’re beginning to wonder if this is a low-cal recipe, right? It gets worse! The toppings are chocolate chips, little marshmallows and slice strawberries. The sliced strawberries make it healthy, am I right?

Chocolate Éclair Cake

This next dessert is a guaranteed popular one! I was given this recipe by one of our best friend’s mom. She was a very sweet woman and made this for us for dessert when we were first married, and I’ve been making it ever since! This chocolate éclair cake is easy to make, and it is requested often, especially from our oldest son. Make it early in the day or even the day before, so the graham crackers have time to fully soften up from the custard filling. The chocolate layer that goes on top is amazing!

Washington Cake

The final cake is for the chocolate lover in your family. Our youngest son has requested this one for his birthday several times, and I like to make it for family gatherings, too. My sister’s mother-in-law called this Sunday Cake, and we had a neighbor years ago who made it, and she called it Minnesota Cake (guess where she was from!). So, I don’t know what the actual name of it, but you could just call it Delicious Chocolate Cake and that would be accurate. It has buttermilk in the actual cake and also in the chocolate frosting that goes on top. Here’s a tip: if you don’t have buttermilk at home, you can substitute for it using 1 teaspoon of white distilled vinegar for every cup of plain milk you use. You put the vinegar into the measuring cup with the milk and leave it for a few minutes. Don’t be alarmed when you see that it curdles some of the milk, because that’s what it’s supposed to do, and it acts like buttermilk in your recipe.

These are just a few of my family’s favorites. None of these recipes will look like a traditional birthday cake, but once you put some candles in the top, nobody will care. None of these cakes are difficult to make, and I always like to give my family something homemade for their birthdays. I hope you’ll give one (or more) a try. If you do, please comment below and let me know how it turned out!

Cannoli Cake

Cannoli Cake

Yield: 16
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes

A delicious white cake with a mascarpone and ricotta topping that is reminiscent of cannolis.

Ingredients

  • 1 box white cake mix
  • 3/4 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 8 oz mascarpone cheese
  • 8 oz whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1-1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

Instructions

  1. Make cake according to directions on package.
  2. When cake comes out of the oven, poke holes all over the top of it, using a chopstick or the end of a wooden spoon handle.
  3. Pour sweetened condensed milk over the cake and let it soak in.
  4. While cake is cooling, beat mascarpone, ricotta, powdered sugar and vanilla.
  5. When cake is completely cooled, spread cheese mixture over the top.
  6. Sprinkle chocolate chips all over the top of the cake.

Did you make this recipe?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Pinterest

Cookie Pizza

Yield: 10
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

The toppings on this dessert can be changed to suit your own preferences. You can add more fruits and make it more like a tart. The ingredients in this recipe are approximate - it's very adaptable.

Ingredients

  • 1 Pillsbury Chocolate Chip Cookie Roll
  • 1 jar marshmallow fluff
  • 1/2 cp heavy whipping cream
  • Sliced Strawberries
  • Chocolate Chips
  • mini-marshmallows
  • chocolate syrup

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Roll out chocolate chip cookie dough onto a pizza stone (or pizza pan). You will probably need to use your hands to press into place.
  3. Bake cookie for approx 10 minutes, until golden brown. Let cool to room temp.
  4. Whip cream until peaks form; add approximate half the jar of marshmallow fluff and beat until smooth and fluffy. Spread over cookie.
  5. Sprinkle chocolate chips and mini-marshmallows over the top of the cookie.
  6. Return the cookie pizza to the oven and bake just until chocolate chips start to melt and marshmallows start to toast.
  7. Arrange sliced strawberries in a decorative pattern around the top of the cookie.
  8. Drizzle chocolate syrup in a zig-zag pattern over the top of the cookie.
  9. Cut into pizza slices and enjoy!

Did you make this recipe?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Pinterest

Chocolate Eclair Cake

Yield: 12
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

This delicious dessert is simple to make and perfect for your next gathering

Ingredients

  • 2 pkgs instant French vanilla pudding (3.4 oz each)
  • 3 cps cold milk
  • 1 - 8 oz cool whip
  • 1 pkg graham crackers
  • 2 oz semi-sweet bakers squares, melted
  • 2 tsp karo syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3 tbls butter, softened
  • 3 tbls milk
  • 1-1/2 cps powdered sugar

Instructions

  1. In medium mixing bowl, beat pudding and milk until firm.
  2. In 9x12" baking dish, place graham crackers in dish in single layer.
  3. Spread half of pudding mixture over graham crackers; Repeat.
  4. Add final layer of graham crackers over pudding.
  5. In small saucepan, melt chocolate and add the rest of the ingredients.
  6. Beat with wire whip until smooth
  7. Spread over the top of the graham crackers
  8. Refrigerate 6 hours or overnight and serve.

Did you make this recipe?

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Washington Cake

Yield: 15
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes

 moist, delicious chocolate cake, baked in a jelly roll pan and topped with a rich chocolate topping

Ingredients

  • 2 cps sugar
  • 2 cps flour
  • 1/2 cp oil
  • 1 cp water
  • 1 stick butter
  • 4 rounded tbls cocoa
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cp buttermilk
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • Frosting:
  • 1 stick butter
  • 5 tbls buttermilk
  • 4 rounded tbls cocoa
  • 1 box powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. In medium mixing bowl, combine sugar and flour; set aside
  3. In medium saucepan, over medium heat, add oil, water, 1 stick butter, and 4 rounded tbls cocoa and bring almost to a boil. Pour hot mixture over sugar and flour mixture and mix well.
  4. Add buttermilk, eggs, baking soda & vanilla; Mix well and pour into jelly roll pan (15"x10"x1").
  5. Bake in 400 degree oven for 15 minutes.
  6. While cake is baking, make frosting:
  7. Bring 1 stick butter, 5 tbls buttermilk and 4 rounded tbls cocoa almost to a boil; remove from heat.
  8. Add powdered sugar and vanilla.
  9. Spread frosting over cake while hot.

Did you make this recipe?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Pinterest

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2 Comments

  1. Cookie pizza… sounds interesting.. I’ll try that next time grandkids are over.. they all sound good.. and easy like you said..:)

    1. It’s crazy (the cookie pizza), I know! I was laughing at the recipe when I was writing it. I seriously always fed my kids healthy food, but this cookie pizza certainly didn’t reflect that! haha

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