Some Boy just turned five, and in true Day family tradition I let him pick out all the details of his party. Every year each birthday kid chooses the meal, who's invited, what activities we do…the whole nine yards.
This kid, man. He has OPINIONS. The biggest thing to him is the cake. First he wanted a yellow cake with green frosting. Then a green cake with yellow frosting. I was relieved when he switched away from that, back to yellow cake but now with purple frosting. No, wait, orange. Nope. Blue frosting. Yellow cake, blue frosting…final answer.
In case you were wondering why we're staring at a smurf cake here, now you have the full evolution.
Since the cake is so central to this whole shindig, I figured the least I could do was cook one up that everyone in attendance could enjoy. Birthday boy offers some serious side-eye to anyone who opts out. This year that meant no dairy and no gluten.
I totally got this, you guys.
Last week I shared that our sponsor ALDI hosted me on a little tasting retreat up in Santa Ynez. On that trip, they served the most divine chocolate cake with an almond cream cheese filling. That sparked this idea in my head: I could make a rich, buttercream-like frosting out of almonds!
Almonds for the win!
- 2.5 c almonds, blanched
- ⅓ c maple syrup
- ⅓ cup honey
- 3 Tbsp coconut oil
- 2 tsp vanilla
- 2 tsp fresh lemon juice
- ½ tsp salt
- Blend almonds in a food processor or high-powered blender until creamy, approximately 10 minutes. Yes, it really does take this long to reach the right consistency. Patience is a virtue.
- Add the remaining ingredients and blend until smooth.
- Thin with water if needed to achieve the consistency desired.
You can buy almonds pre-blanched, but it's so easy to blanch them yourself and it can save a ton of money. Blanching removes the skin from the almonds so that whatever you're cooking with the almond meal has a finer, less grainy texture and a lighter flavor. To blanch almonds, simply soak them in water overnight, drain, submerge in boiling water for five minutes, drain again and then slide the skins off.
We've started stocking up on almonds at ALDI because they always have a killer deal.
The big key here is to blend the almonds first, until you essentially have blanched almond butter. THEN, add the remaining ingredients to thin out the mixture, add some more flavor and sweeten it.
This produces a creamy frosting that's perfect for cookies, or can be thinned down a bit with water to easily glide over cake. I adjusted the recipe several times and found that this mixture of maple syrup and honey gives it a really balanced flavor and keeps the color light so it can easily be colored for a birthday cake. There are a ton of natural food colorings out there…when I have time, I even like to experiment with berries and beets.
I kept the cake base super-simple with a boxed mix. liveGfree Gluten Free Yellow Cake Mix from ALDI is the best on the planet, hands-down. You can nab some more recipe ideas over on the brand's website, blog, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest pages.
Right before party time, the birthday boy decided at the last minute that he also wanted white dots on his cake.
Birthday kid gets what the birthday kid wants!
What are your birthday traditions? Do you supplement homemade with some store-bought solutions?