Over the weekend, Alfie has had his birthday party. Before you get all complimentary and think I’m ‘Mother of the Year’ for having hosted children’s birthday parties multiple times every year for over two decades, I should let you know that Alfie’s birthday was nearly six months ago.
Well, in my defense; we couldn’t have his party in February because we were moving house, so I asked him to wait until after the move, then after the move we had a funeral, Carl’s parents came to stay for a week, then there was Easter and all his little mates would have been away, then he was back at school for 10 days before the April school holidays then we went away to Coffs Harbour, then it was those three weekends away in May at the Blue Mountains, then the Mini-Mos 10km run and you see, here we are in June – just!
So the poor little guy has been saying to me, ‘I am going to have my party, aren’t I?’ and then later, ‘I’m still having a party, aren’t I?’ and, ‘You haven’t forgotten about my party, have you?’ He suffers from third-child syndrome.
On Monday I decided we just had to get on with it. I bought the fancy invitations, we made a list of boys to invite, I booked Alfie’s most desired venue that was indoor rock climbing, picked the date and it was cemented in concrete. I decided to go low-key this time around where the party food would be dial-up pizzas and went the extra mile and ordered the garlic bread as well. Soft drinks of course to add fuel to their fire and there were lolly bags in smart little green bags, green helium balloons and even a linen tablecloth (not ironed but it wasn’t made of paper).
Of course it’s not a party if there’s not a cake and so Alfie spent three nights going through my three Women’s Weekly kid’s birthday party cookbooks and late Thursday night his decision was finally made. A pinata cake! Although this cake had been often requested by Arabella, I had not made it before and for very good reason. You need a cake tin and a pudding steamer in very specific sizes and I was very nervous about that chocolate covering coming out of the steamer in one perfect piece.
But having made the little guy wait almost half a year to have his party, I felt the least I could do was oblige with the cake. Little Alfie was so excited about his party he couldn’t go off to sleep before midnight and was up extra early in the morning!
I made the cake on the Friday and put it in the freezer overnight so it would be easier to handle. On Saturday, the day of the party, I started to make the Pinata. I was having a fun time with it and enjoying my time in the kitchen until we came to the ‘moment of truth’ where that pudding steamer, lined with chocolate had to come out of the freezer and be placed over the cake. The recipe says , ‘Using a hot cloth, briefly rub outside of bowl. Chocolate shell will slip from bowl to completely cover cake’.
It sounds so easy doesn’t it. It will ‘slip’. In which country? Mine was suctioned on like it was vacuumed to the steamer. I rubbed it with a hot cloth so many times the chocolate started to melt. I ran a knife between the chocolate shell and the steamer that did nothing to release the shell but caused great damage to it. There were 90 minutes before the party was to start and I had no back-up plan. In desperation, I grabbed the inside of that shell with my finger nails and noticed I could get the shell to spin. It then released from the steamer but the edges all broke into a thousand pieces. With some extra melted chocolate I pieced the jigsaw puzzle back together.
The good thing about this cake is that it is amazingly forgiving. Those giant smarties cover a plethora of issues and so you can see many are placed around the base to hide the jigsaw pieces. Alfie came into the kitchen and thought it was the best cake he had ever seen (good thing he didn’t see it half an hour earlier). I asked him to search his toy box for a toy hammer and off we went to the party.
.It was raining cats and dogs (as it has been for the past 10 days with no relief in sight) as we drove to the party and all the boys were only too keen to unleash their energy into rock climbing. They had an hour of climbing and then sat down at the table for pizza. After the pizzas Alfie blew out the candles then grabbed that hammer. I have to say, I don’t think a birthday boy could have any better moment then being allowed to take a hammer to his cake. That chocolate shell was quite thick at the top of the cake so it took a good few attempts to crack it. Once that ‘pinata’ was opened up a sea of hands rushed in to grab the treasures of Euro dollars and chocolate stars.
Despite the stress in the kitchen, I’d actually be quite happy to make this cake again.
Alfie said it was his ‘best party ever’.
Pinata Birthday Cake
Degree of Difficulty: 3/5
Cost: Not a lot but can be blown out by the type of chocolate chosen and decorative sweets.
- 340g pack buttercake mix (I used chocolate cake mix)
- 30cm round prepared board
- 1 quantity chocolate butter cream
- 23 large chocolate coins
- 19 medium chocolate coins
- 13 small chocolate coins
- 150g rainbow choc-chips
- 1/2 tspn vegetable oil
- 450g milk chocolate Melts, melted
- 50g milk chocolate, melted
- 35g packet, mini M&Ms
- 50g packet Smarties
- 200g packet giant Smarties
- toy hammer
Pre-heat oven to 180C (375F).
Grease and line a 15cm-round (6 inch) cake tin.
Make cake according to directions on packet, pour into pan until 3/4s full; bake for about 45 minutes. Stand cake in pan 5 minutes; turn onto wire rack to cool. Using serrated knife, level cake top.
Position cake on board, cut-side down. Using a ruler and toothpicks, mark and 11cm circle in centre of cake. Using markings as a guide and small serrated knife, cut deep hollow into cake.
Spread chocolate butter cream all over cake; fill hollow with coins and 1/2 of the rainbow choc-chips.
To make chocolate shell: grease 2.25ltr (9 cup) pudding steamer with oil; place bowl in freezer 10 minutes. Place melted chocolate Melts in steamer; swirl chocolate to coat inside of steamer evenly. Continue swirling until chocolate begins to set and stops flowing around the steamer; try to keep the chocolate a uniform thickness, particularly at the edge. Stand until the chocolate is almost set. Freeze until chocolate sets completely.
Carefully place pudding steamer with set chocolate shell over cake; using hot cloth, briefly rub outside of bowl. Chocolate shell will slip from bowl to completely cover cake.
Using melted milk chocolate, secure remaining rainbow choc-chips, mini M&M’s, Smarties and giant Smarties to chocolate shell.
Allow birthday child to break chocolate shell open with toy hammer.
This recipe has been adapted from The Australian Women’s Weekly Kids’ Birthday Cakes.
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Well, it was good while it lasted!
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