Cakes are the centrepiece of any birthday celebration, but they’re often overpriced and underwhelming. Those of us who grew up on McCain’s Deep and Delicious desserts now find ourselves shelling out for gorgeous, but outrageously-priced bakery desserts or settling for bland store bought.
But there are alternatives!
Whether you’re starting with something store-bought or have a little more time to create from scratch, check out our list of Pinterest-worthy party desserts that won’t break the bank or require a pastry chef. And while we promise you’ll discover something great without compromising on presentation or creativity, we cannot accept responsibility for sugar-induced mania at your next event.
A sundae bar is one of the easiest options around. All you need is one or more flavours of ice cream and a bunch of toppings like gummies, sprinkles, chocolate, strawberry or caramel sauce, whipped cream, candies and nuts. Depending on their age, kids can create dessert masterpieces on their own or with help. To avoid some of the mess and expedite the serving process use ice cream bars or sandwiches as your base.
Cupcakes with Cute Toppings
Whether they’re store-bought or homemade, cupcakes are one of the easiest desserts to customize. And best of all, they’re easy to present, serve and clean up after. Start by making them at home, or buy them iced in-store. Then add cute toppings like small toys. Or, if you have more time, turn them into your kid’s favourite animal using cookies and candies. For cupcakes that aren’t already iced, try the ombre method for extra wow.
For zero mess, low waste and impressive presentation, it’s tough to beat the candy buffet. All you need are glass containers filled with candy, scoops and paper bags or bowls. Kids can help themselves to their favourites leaving almost nothing to clean up. Candy buffets can also double as loot bags, and since kids can snack while doing other activities, they’re great for busy parties or if you don’t have space for everyone to sit and eat.
Dressed-Up Store-Bought Cake
Thanks to the internet we now know there is no shortage of ways to bedazzle even the blandest of store-bought offerings. And most of them can be done in less than 20 minutes! Click here for a four-minute tutorial to spark your creativity then grab that slab and hit the baking aisle for a handful of tools and accessories that will help you turn that pumpkin into a carriage.
Donut Tree, Tower, or Wall
Donuts are the new cupcakes! These holey treats are ideal for parties because they’re easy to work with, assemble and eat. And it’s not difficult to find flavour options to suit both simple and sophisticated tastes. Maple bacon, anyone? How about blood-orange hibiscus or chocolate peanut butter? Donut walls require some assembly but displaying your goodies using a single or multi-tier serving stand is easy and just as impressive.
Bring back the 70s, no shag carpet or bell bottoms required. Fondue is great for older kids who can manage the burner and forks without any ouchies. Just fill the pot with chocolate or caramel and provide treats for dipping, like cubed fruit, marshmallows, pretzels and mini waffles.
Solar System or Polka Dot Cake
All you need to make this impressive intergalactic confection are a cake mix, cake and donut hole baking pans and icing. Single or multi-layer, this dessert is easy to make at home and customize with out-of-this-world colours and a variety of flavours.
If you’ve got a high-powered blender (or two for big parties) milkshakes are another fun, customizable party dessert option. All you need is the blending equipment and tall glasses or plastic cups, plus milk, ice-cream, ice, paper straws and extra goodies like cookie pieces, candies and flavoured syrup to mix in or put on top.
Chocolate Chip Cookie Pizza
Chocolate chip cookie dough is the base for this yummy take on a cake. Simply bake it as a slab or flat round, cover with a layer of icing and add toppings. Cookie Pizza can be made ahead and cut into slices or squares, or served right out of the oven warm, with ice cream and chocolate sauce.
And for some super-simple ideas that just require you insert candles and accompany your treat with lots of singing, try one of these:
- Ice cream sandwiches
- Rice cereal squares
- Watermelon wedges
Are you exploring birthday cake alternatives? If so, what are you thinking of serving? If you’re interested in some local birthday cake alternatives, check out our options in Toronto, Ottawa, Calgary & Vancouver.