If you give an astronomonster a birthday party, he’s going to want a cake. If you give him a cake, he may ask for the moon. So, today we will look at spacey cakes and other edible solar system goodness!
My astronomonster turned 2 this summer, and since he was so crazed about the moon, my mom wanted to make him a moon cake. Below are two photos of our moon cake; unfortunately, I didn’t get to photograph it before my astronomonster had a flag-poking frenzy with his cake decorations.
This cake was made using a chocolate crazy cake recipe. Crazy cakes do not have any eggs in them, and apparently it was a popular recipe during the Depression. The cake was made in two round pans, put together with chocolate frosting, and covered with white fondant. Store-bought squeeze tubes of frosting were used to outline the craters and make rays, and this frosting was also used to make the rough surfaces by stippling it on with a brush. The finishing touches were paper flags attached to toothpicks: one was an American flag, in honor of the flag on the moon, and the other was a birthday greeting.
You wouldn’t have to use fondant—I actually didn’t care for the fondant myself—, but you will want to use a frosting stiff enough to form it a little bit so you can have craters and rough little highlands. Some examples online used a butter cream frosting. An internet search shows a few different examples of moon and planet cakes, some spherical. Some tips on making spherical cakes can be found here.
If your child is old enough to help you decorate the cake, it might be fun to involve them in the process. You could study photos or maps of the moon and discuss the different types of terrain and what formed them on the moon and how you could form them on the cake.
For an alternative to cake, you could make planet cookies. You could find different-sized items to cut the cookies (circular cookie cutter, pill bottles, jar lids) to represent the different sizes of planets, although probably not to scale. Color the frosting and decorate. Discuss which features and colors would be necessary to identify each planet and include them on the cookies.
You could also do an edible study of moon phases, making crescent, semi-circle, and full circle cookies. Or, if you have concerns about confusing kids to thinking that the moon changes its physical shape and not just apparent shape, make full circles and use the icing to distinguish phases, using chocolate frosting for the dark side and vanilla for the sunlit side. Other decorating ideas are discussed on eHow’s Edible Solar System Projects page.
If all that sounds like too much work, you can have fun turning Oreo cookies into phases of the moon: twist off the tops and bite away frosting to represent the moon phases. (I don’t think I need to advise you not to serve them to guests if you’ve already bitten into them–looks like I did it anyway ;o)
But if you give an astronomonster a cookie, he’s going to ask for a glass of milk, and when you give him the milk, he will probably ask you for a straw, and when he’s finished, he’ll ask for a napkin…assuming that astronomonsters and mice behave similarly when given cookies. It’s probably best to just be prepared.