Lucas turned two back in April, but I just came across these pictures of his construction party and realized I hadn’t yet shared them with you.
I was so completely overwhelmed by his first birthday party (I went a little overboard with handmade decorations, party favors, etc.), that I decided to take a step back this year and keep things relatively simple. Anything truck related is very popular around here, so we went with a construction theme.
I Googled “construction cake” and found inspiration looking at pictures from A. Party Style and Fredellicious. Since I went very light on the decorations and we kept the guest list quite small, I wanted to make him a really cool cake. For how simple this cake actually was to make, I thought it looked pretty darned good and was really pleased with myself when all was said and done.
I started by baking two nine-inch round layers of my favorite chocolate cake from Hershey’s — recipe below — along with their “perfectly chocolate” chocolate frosting (throwing in eight ounces of cream cheese for good measure). If you don’t feel like making cake or frosting from scratch, go ahead and use a boxed cake mix and canned frosting. Your guests still will be impressed. Promise.
After your cake rounds cool, you’ll want to level them. For the “excavation,” take a long serrated knife and carve a large chunk out of the top cake layer, cutting at about a 45-degree angle. You’ll just need to eyeball it and go with your gut for the shape. Flip the cut piece/chunk over so the flat sides of the cake meet. Then frost the whole cake, treating the excavated piece like a third cake layer. For the “dirt,” run a package of Oreos through your food processor and lightly press them into the frosting to make them stick. If you don’t have a food processor, you can place the Oreos into a Ziploc bag and crush them with a rolling pin. (A big shout out to my friend Kim who talked me through the cutting — I was super nervous about wrecking the cake!)
For Lucas’ name I used Wilton fondant cut outs and Wilton neon colors fondant. Using the same fondant, I hand-shaped the construction cones. The candy rocks are sold in bulk at my local grocery store, but you also can buy them on Amazon. I found the small digger for the top of the cake at the dollar store — they came in multi-packs, and I used the others as a party-favor component.
I kept the decorations simple and printed these letters on orange construction paper using Microsoft Word (!). We affixed them to the wall using painters’ tape. So simple, and I think the banner turned out pretty cute.
But most importantly, my boy thought everything was extra special and he had a great day! Four months later and he’s still talking about his “excavator party.”
Hershey’s “Perfectly Chocolate” Chocolate Cake
- 2 cups sugar
- 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup Hershey’s cocoa
- 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup milk
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 cup boiling water
- Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pans.
- Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin). Pour batter into prepared pans.
- Bake about 45 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely. Frost with “Perfectly Chocolate” Chocolate Cream-Cheese Frosting. 10 to 12 servings.
“Perfectly Chocolate” Chocolate Cream-Cheese Frosting
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine
- 8 oz. cream cheese
- 2/3 cup Hershey’s cocoa
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Melt butter. Stir in cocoa.
- Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating on medium with a hand mixer. Beat in cream cheese.
- Add small amount additional milk, if needed. Stir in vanilla. About three cups frosting.