Serve colorful treats for children’s birthday parties

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By Ann Cipperly

Whether it is a child’s birthday party or back to school get together, plan on having plenty of delicious treats. Let the children help decorate cupcakes, cakes and cookies. Have assorted sprinkles and colored candy for them to select the colors they like the best.

When my children were growing up, I made their birthday cakes every year. As the grandchildren came along, I have enjoyed baking their cakes and cupcakes, and letting them help decorate. It has created many treasured memories.

Over the years, I took a couple of cake decorating classes, but didn’t want to put the practice time into doing fancy flowers and designs. You don’t need a class to create stars and rosettes. Just insert the tip into a plastic pastry bag or a plastic zip-lock bag with a corner cut off. It is even easier if you get the frosting tubes with a tip attached, and kids can help decorate cupcakes and cakes too.

My favorite tip is one that makes a simple flower. I can make dozens of these in little time. I will make the flower one color and add a dot in the center in another shade.

I have covered cakes in these drop flowers. Since I know children like the flowers and will fuss over them, I will drop dozens of these flowers onto waxed paper and let them dry. Once they are dry, I garnish the cake with more of these and then bank the base with bunches that creates a stunning cake.

One granddaughter liked Barbie dolls, so I decided to recreate a cake I saw that had a full skirt made by stacking a couple of Bundt cakes covered in frosting and finished with colored stars. Then, the Barbie was placed in the center.

I made a few of these using homemade pound cakes. One time I stacked three of the pound cakes that was really over the top with a huge skirt. Now I am thinking I could have saved a lot of time if I had purchased Bundt pound cakes at the grocery store. When it comes to my family, though, I am always thinking homemade.

Sometimes with party cakes I have skipped the pastry bags and designed birthday greetings and their name in M & M’s candies. This works better on sheet cakes.

If it is a large party, I will bake two sheet cakes and stack them. I will frost one of the cakes, then place the second cake on top and frost. If you have concerns about getting the cake out of the pan, you can line the pan with foil to just peel off the cake once it is flipped. Just be sure to grease the foil well or spray with Pam.

I made a chocolate cake like this one time for a groom’s cake and garnished the top with green grapes and other fruits.

My niece Amanda, who lives in Birmingham, used to cater amazing cakes before she had five children. She now uses her talent to create incredible birthday cakes for her children. For one birthday party, she made a stunning cake shaped as a colorful fish.

One year at Thanksgiving she arrived at our home with a cake that looked just like a roasted turkey with stuffing falling out. I expect one day when her children are older she will be on the Food Network.

If that is not your desire, there are easier ways to make attractive treats your children will adore.

The Ice Cream Cone Cupcakes are lovely and easy for children to hold and eat. Instead of colored frosting, you can make them with white buttercream and chocolate to look like ice cream. To keep them sturdy for serving, place them in a tray or glass pan filled with M&M’s or other candies to secure them.

When you are planning a party for children, you will want to be careful that everything you serve is fully cooked. I can hardly believe some of the cake and cookie pop recipes I see online. Do not serve any of these uncooked: eggs, flour, cake or brownie mix or raw cookie dough. All of these things must be cooked.

Also be sure the serving containers are food safe. Just this week I saw someone on television telling people they didn’t need to use those covered containers for food outdoors. She said they could use shower caps, which are not for use with food and could have lead dyes, and are made with plastic that is not safe around food. If it is not made for use with food, do not use it.

Look over the following recipes and treat your princess or prince to a memorable birthday party with all their favorite favors in a rainbow of colors.

Cipperly can be contacted at recipes@cipperly.com.

Recipes:

Ice Cream Cone Cakes
Susie Litkenhous
1 box rainbow/confetti cake mix or your choice
24 flat-bottom ice cream cones
Favorite frosting, colored if desired
Sprinkles
Place paper baking cups in 24 regular-size muffin cups. Prepare cake batter as directed on box. Divide batter evenly among muffin cups (two-thirds full). Place ice cream cones upside down on batter in each cup.
Bake 16 to 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted in cake comes out clean (cones may tilt on batter). Cool completely, about 30 minutes.
Remove paper cups. Generously frost cake with frosting, and decorate as desired.

Colorful Cake Pops
Heather Cummings
1 cake mix of choice
1/2 – 3/4 container prepared frosting of choice
2 bags white or colored candy melts 
Lollipop sticks
Assorted sprinkles, piped icing 
Prepare cake mix according to package directions for a 9 by 13-inch pan. Let cool, but not completely. While still warm, put baked cake in a large mixing bowl, and use your hands to crumble the entire cake.
Add 1/2 – 3/4 of frosting to cake and mix until well moistened. Put mixture in refrigerator to cool.
Roll cake mixture into 1-inch balls. Should make 35-40 cake balls. Put balls in freezer to set. Do not allow to freeze completely.
Melt candy melts or almond bark in a bowl. Stir until completely smooth. Dip lollipop into melted bark, then place stick into the center of cake ball. Can stick the pops in Styrofoam to harden.
Decorate using piped icing, sprinkles, etc.

Decorated Cupcakes with Perfect Frosting
June Woodham
Cake mix or brownie mix of choice
Perfect Frosting, recipe follows
Candies for decorating
Bake mini or regular cupcakes as directed on cake mix. Spread with My Favorite Frosting and decorate with candies.
Perfect Frosting
1/2 cup solid vegetable shortening
1/2 cup butter, melted
4 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
2 Tbsp. milk
With an electric mixer, beat shortening and butter until smooth; add confectioners’ sugar. Add milk and continue beating until creamy.

White Cake with Vanilla Frosting Birthday Cake or Cupcakes
Holly Muncie
1 white cake mix
1 cup whole milk
1 stick butter, melted
3 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
Preheat oven to 350. Line muffin tin with cupcake holders or prepare cake pans with Pam with flour.
Place all ingredients in mixing bowl. Beat on low for 1 minute; scrape sides. Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes.
Divide evenly among cupcake holders or cake pans.
Bake according to cake mix directions or until golden.
Remove from oven; cool in pan 5-10 minutes.
Remove and continue cooling on a rack. Do not frost until completely cool.
Vanilla Frosting
1/2 cup solid Crisco
4 tsp. vanilla
6 cups powdered sugar
1/3 to 1/2 cup milk
Mix Crisco, vanilla, sugar, and 1/3 cup milk until smooth. Beat this for a long time to get it fluffy — you cannot over beat it. Add remaining milk, if needed. If it looks too thin, add more sugar. Too thick, add more milk. Mix in food coloring, if desired.
Pipe onto cupcakes with a star tip (32 or 1M) in a Ziploc or piping bag. Keep refrigerated for an hour or two before serving.

Birthday Party Ice Cream
An easy method of serving ice cream at a birthday party is scooping the ice cream into paper liners in a muffin tin ahead of time. At the party, remove from freezer and peel off papers for individual ice cream servings.

Rainbow Slushies  
Susie Litkenhous
4 bottles brightly colored sport drinks
4 to 8 ice cube trays
Resealable plastic freezer storage bags
Pour sport drinks into separate ice cube trays and freeze overnight.
Just before serving, pop frozen cubes into plastic bags, one color at a time. Close bag and smash cubes with rolling pin.
Layer the different colored ice slush in clear glasses to make colorful combinations. Serve with straws.

Dipped Marshmallows
Carol Pridgen
Bag of large or jumbo marshmallows
Lollipop sticks
Almond bark or candy melts
Assorted sprinkles
Put marshmallows on lollipop sticks. Melt candy coating according to directions on bag. Dip marshmallows in coating and roll in sprinkles.
Place marshmallows on wax paper lined cookie sheet to cool.
These can be placed in cellophane bags as party favors.
Option: Marshmallows can be dipped in caramel, then chocolate and rolled in nuts or peppermints.

Oreo Cookie Pops
Oreo Double Stuff cookies
Lollipop sticks
White almond bark or colored candy melts
Sprinkles
Insert lollipop stick into filling. Dip cookies into melted almond bark. Cover with sprinkles. Place on wax paper to cool.

Fresh Fruit and Dip
Heather Cummings
8 oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Assorted fresh fruit
In a bowl, combine cream cheese, brown sugar and vanilla; mix well. Serve with fresh fruit for dipping. Refrigerate leftovers.

Chocolate Sour Cream Cake Birthday Cake with Peanut Butter or Chocolate Frosting
2 cups sugar
2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup water
1 cup butter or margarine
¼ cup cocoa
2 eggs, beaten
1 or 2 tsp. vanilla
½ cup sour cream
Chocolate-Peanut Butter Frosting
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine sugar, flour, soda and salt in a large bowl; mix well and set aside.
Combine water, butter and cocoa in a heavy saucepan; bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Gradually stir hot mixture into flour mixture; stir well. Stir in eggs, vanilla and sour cream; mix well. Pour into a greased and floured 13 by 9 inch pan for 25 to 30 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool. Frost with Chocolate-Peanut Butter Frosting or Creamy Chocolate Frosting. Freezes well.
Chocolate-Peanut Butter Frosting
½ cup butter or margarine
¼ cup plus 2 Tbsp. milk
¼ cup cocoa
16 oz. box powdered sugar, sifted
1 tsp. vanilla extract
½ cup chopped peanuts
¼ cup peanut butter
Combine butter, milk and cocoa in a heavy saucepan; bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Add remaining ingredients; beat at medium speed of an electric mixer until frosting is smooth.
Creamy Chocolate Frosting
1 stick butter
5 Tbsp. cocoa
6 Tbsp. milk
1 box confectioners’ sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
In a small saucepan, combine butter, cocoa and milk; bring to a boil. Remove from heat. Add confectioners’ sugar and stir in vanilla.

Nutella Krispie Treats
Heather Cummings
6 Tbsp. salted butter, divided
1 bag large marshmallows
1/8 tsp. salt
1/3 cup Nutella hazelnut spread
6 cups Rice Krispies
1½ cups miniature marshmallows
½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted
Melt 4 Tbsp. butter in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add marshmallows and salt and stir until melted. Halfway through melting process, add Nutella.
When Nutella and marshmallows are melted, add additional two Tbsp. butter and stir until smooth. Melt chocolate chips over a double boiler until smooth. Remove from heat and let it cool.
Add Rice Krispies to a large bowl and fold in the Nutella mixture. When it is almost all combined, add mini-marshmallows to the bowl, then continue folding until combined. Immediately press mixture into a thoroughly greased 9×13-inch pan. Drizzle semi-sweet chocolate all over the top of the treats.

Kiddos Trail Mix
Heather Cummings
1 cup Cheerios toasted oat cereal
1 cup Goldfish crackers
1 cup dried cranberries (or other favorite dried fruit)
1 cup cashews (or other favorite nuts)
1 cup M&M’s chocolate candies
1 cup peanut butter chips
1 cup miniature pretzel twists or pretzel sticks

Upside Down Confetti Treats
Melissa Harris
1/2 cup miniature candy-coated semi-sweet chocolate pieces
3 Tbsp. butter
4 cups miniature marshmallows
6 cups rice cereal
Coat 13 by 9-inch pan with cooking spray. Evenly sprinkle candy on bottom of pan. Set aside.
In large saucepan melt butter over low heat. Add marshmallows and stir until completely melted. Remove from heat.
Add rice cereal. Stir until well coated.
Using buttered spatula evenly press mixture over candy in pan. Cool. Cut into 2-inch squares. Serve candy side up. Best if served the same day.

Decorate Your Own Cookies
June Woodham
Make large sugar cookies (can use ones from a tube). Provide two or three flavors of store bought icing, plastic knives and a variety of toppings, including sprinkles, crushed cookies, chopped candy bars, marshmallows, etc.

Loaded Pretzels
Gail Swarthout
1 pkg. (10 oz.) pretzel rods
1 pkg. (14 oz.) caramels
1 Tbsp. evaporated milk
1 ¼ cups miniature semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp. butterscotch chips
2/3 cup milk chocolate toffee bits
¼ cup chopped walnuts, toasted
Melt caramels with evaporated milk. Dip pretzels in coatings in order given.

Brownie Pops
Gail Swarthout
(Can use brownie mix instead of making homemade brownies)
½ cup melted butter
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs
1/3 cup cocoa
¼ tsp. baking powder
14 tsp. salt
Melting wafers
Assorted sprinkles
Baking:
In a bowl, stir together ½ cup melted butter, 1 cup sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla. Add 2 eggs, and beat mixture well. In another bowl, stir together 1/3 cup cocoa, ¼ teaspoon baking powder, and ¼ teaspoon salt. Add dry mixture to wet mixture, beating until blended.
Spray brownie pop mold (can use mini muffin tins) with cooking spray, and fill cavities with batter. There is enough batter for 16 cavities. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes. Cool and release brownie mold. Brownies can be frozen for decorating later, if desired.
Coating and decorating:
For coating and decorating, we use Wilton or Merckens brand melting chocolate wafers.
To attach sticks, melt a small amount of chocolate as per instructions on wafer package. Dip the lollipop sticks into the melted chocolate, and then poke into brownies. When chocolate hardens, it will help sticks to adhere to brownies.
Melt enough chocolate wafers to completely coat the brownie pop. Dip brownies into melted chocolate, and remove any excess.
If you use sprinkles or candy to decorate, quickly add them at this stage. Immediately place dipped brownie onto a wax paper or parchment paper coated cookie sheet in the refrigerator, and allow chocolate to harden. If you are drizzling colored melted chocolate to decorate, do so when base coat is already hardened, and place back in refrigerator to allow colored chocolate to set.

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