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I truly love cooking, baking, and all things in the kitchen. Well, let’s be real. I love to eat delicious food, so it’s more of a means to an end. But come birthday time, I take it up a notch. I let my kids choose the menu on their special day and it might be what they look forward to the most. Other than presents, that is. 🙂

I’m no Baker Extraordinaire, but I do enjoy cake decorating. Using fondant has become a new technique for me, and I believe that piping bags and frosting tips are a must in every kitchen. For tips on decorating cakes, Wilton has some great techniques and even offers classes on cake decorating.

That being said, there are times when I’ve begged my children to choose a birthday dessert that doesn’t involve cake. Below are a few of my Greatest Hits when it comes to creative birthday treats.

Edible Cookie Dough Ice Cream Cones

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These were so popular, my daughter asked for them two years in a row. She has a wheat allergy, and while there are some great gluten-free cake mixes out there, we wanted to try something new.

  1. Choose a sturdy ice cream cone. For gluten-free, we prefer the Joy Sugar Cones.
  2. Make your favorite cookie dough recipe, but leave out the eggs and use a small amount of milk to get it to the right consistency. *note about raw flour: you should microwave your flour for about 60 seconds, stirring halfway though, to kill bacteria.
  3. Spoon about two large tablespoons (or as much as you like) of the dough into the cone.
  4. Top off with frosting and sprinkles! (use the bags and tips I mentioned above or this shortcut to give it the swirl in the photo)

Fruit Tart Cake

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This was a huge hit, so much so that we had it for Mother’s Day, too. It was also a great dessert to make ahead of time because it kept well in the fridge.

  1. Make a basic fruit tart. I used this recipe from Paula Deen and it turned out perfectly.
  2. Top it with the birthday person’s favorite fruit or frost it and use candy or sprinkles to decorate.
  3. Use candles or whatever other toppings you’d like to make it special for the birthday person! *tip: the cookie crust is very firm and hard to put traditional candles into. These toothpick candles pictured above worked beautifully.

Frosted Sugar Cookies

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These are a frequent substitution in our house for a cake because they’re so freaking good. I know, the photo is of cookies decorated for fall, but you get the idea.

They’re soft without being mushy; firm without being crunchy; sweet without being too sweet. They also travel well so I make them for school birthday treats. If you needed a shortcut, you could buy pre-made sugar cookies and then decorate them using my suggestions below.

  1. Make Rich Rolled Sugar Cookies from the Joy of Cooking Cookbook. Trust me, I’ve tried a lot of other sugar cookie recipes and this one works perfectly every time.
  2. Follow the instructions, including the method of rolling out the dough before refrigerating it.
  3. Bake until they look cooked in the middle (they will not brown around the edges until they’re over cooked)
  4. Once completely cool, frost using Cookie Icing. Make sure that the bottle says it will dry hard so you can stack and move them.
  5. Add other decorations immediately after the frosting before it starts to set (within one minute).
  6. If you don’t need to stack them, you can also use regular cake frosting or pipe decorations on to the cookies.

There are other ideas to celebrate without cake…pies, flan, we’ve even used biscuits and scones to stick a candle in and make a wish. Have a great idea? Send us a note and let us know how you make the people in your life feel special on their special day.

Happy Celebrating!

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