Ribbon:Cut 12-inch and 16-inch lengths of Fruit by the Foot and drape them across the cake and down the sides to resemble ribbon. Tuck the ends under the cake, using a spatula to gently lift it just a little.
Bow:Top the ribbon with two 8-inch lengths of Fruit by the Foot fashioned into loops and 5-inch-long streamers with notches snipped into the ends. Add a small oval to resemble a knot.
Polka-dot gift wrap:Press randomly spaced Spree candies into the frosting (we used about 3 dozen).
Edible Excavator Cake
9 1/2-by 4-inch pound cake
1 1/2 cups yellow frosting
1/2 cup light-brown frosting (white and chocolate mixed together)
Chocolate decorators' frosting
4 mini chocolate-covered doughnuts
Blue and green M&M's candies
Red and yellow gumdrops
4 (8-inch) wooden skewers, trimmed into two 4 1/2-inch and
two 6-inch pieces
4 yellow Twizzlers Rainbow Twists, cut to the same size as the skewers
12 chocolate cookies (we used Oreo cookies)
Cut a 2 1/2-inch-long section from one end of the cake. Frost the section's cut end and place it on top of the cake for the cab, as shown. Cover the entire cake with yellow frosting, saving about 1/3 cup for the loader and bucket.
Spoon the light-brown frosting into a resealable sandwich bag, snip off a corner, and pipe a window onto each side of the cab. Outline the windows with chocolate decorators' frosting, then press the doughnut tires in place. Add M&M's and gumdrops for lights and hubcaps.
Use Twix to add a smokestack and loader arms. Frost one of the Twinkies yellow, set it on the loader arms, and add chocolate decorators' frosting details. Cut a 2-inch section from the other Twinkie, place it behind the truck for the bucket, and frost it yellow. Add pieces of yellow gumdrop for teeth.
Slide the skewers inside the Twizzlers. Press them into the cake and bucket as shown, using dabs of chocolate decorators' frosting to join them. With a rolling pin or food processor, crush the chocolate cookies into "dirt" and sprinkle it around the cake. Serves 8.
1 9-inch round cake
2 green candies
Black licorice string
Bake your favorite batter in a 9-inch round pan (to form the tiger's face) and two lined muffin tin cups (to make the tiger's ears).
When the cake has completely cooled, set it in the center of a large, round serving platter with the two cupcakes, placed as shown below.
Frost the cake and cupcakes with orange icing.
Zigzag chocolate piping on the face for stripes and details and add green candies for eyes, assorted chocolates for the nose and ears, and black licorice strings for the whiskers.
Pop Star Guitar
Rock out with a six-stringed cake that harmonizes perfectly with our Rockin' Good Time party. This Great Cake Contest entry was submitted by Christina K. of Fort Worth, TX.
3 pastry bags, with 1 small round tip and 1 medium round tip
1 Kit Kat
6 brown M&M's and 12 yellow M&M's Minis
Cut the cake as shown and assemble.
Make purple frosting by stirring 12 drops of red food coloring and 8 drops of blue into 1 1/4 cups of vanilla frosting. Spread the frosting over the guitar body.
Lightly press a medium-size drinking glass into the frosting to mark the sound hole. Spoon 1/2 cup of the chocolate frosting into a pastry bag with a small round tip. Pipe frosting to fill in the circle. Use the rest of the chocolate frosting to cover the guitar neck and head as shown.
Place one section of the Kit Kat about 2 1/2 inches below the sound hole. Spoon 1/4 cup of vanilla frosting into a pastry bag. Use the small round tip again to pipe on lines for frets and strings, then place the yellow M&M's Minis as shown.
For tuning pegs, put three brown M&M's on each side of the head of the guitar, then pipe vanilla-frosting pegs leading to them.
Stir 12 drops of neon blue food coloring into the remaining vanilla frosting. Spoon the frosting into a pastry bag fitted with the medium round tip. Pipe on dots and curlicues as shown. Serves 10 to 12.
Bowling Lane Cake
You're sure to strike everyone's sweet tooth with this clever party cake.
2 baked 13-by-9-inch cakes, any flavor
1 3/4 cups plus 1/4 cup of white frosting
Yellow food coloring
1 cup of brown chocolate frosting
2 strips of Fruit by the Foot fruit leather, each about 20 inches long
Gumballs in different colors
1 strip of black shoestring licorice, about 9 inches long 7 chocolate chips
10 bowling pin candles (available at party stores)
On a large platter or cake cardboard measuring at least 26 inches long, line up the cakes end to end to form a long rectangle. Trim the cakes as shown.
Trim 2 big cake scraps to 4 inches long and 1 1/2 inches wide and stack them on the sides of the wide end of the cake to make the bowling ball rack. Use a little frosting to adhere them if necessary. If the small pieces are crumbly and therefore difficult to frost, apply a light coating of frosting and chill the pieces until it sets. Stick the pieces in place and frost again.
To create a varnished wood look for the lane's flooring, mix the 1 3/4 cups of white frosting with 12 drops of yellow food coloring and 1 cup of chocolate frosting. The overall color should resemble peanut butter. Frost the entire cake, except for the tops of the racks; frost those with the 1/4 cup of white.
Trim 2 strips of fruit leather to fit along the edges for the gutters. Place the gumballs in the rack, add shoestring licorice for the foul line, and arrange the chocolate chip lane arrows about a third of the way up the lane. Set up the bowling pin candles at the narrow end of the cake. Light as many as the birthday child's age. Serves about 20.
Catch a Rainbow Cake
Here's a cake a birthday kid will feel lucky to have. Festive enough for any spring or summer fete, it also lends itself to a Wizard of Oz party, or even a science party. Just start with a frosted 9- by 13-inch cake, decorate with a handful of colorful candies, and get ready to sing "Happy Birthday."
Frosted 9- by 13-inch cake
Rainbow: Starting at the top, arrange double rows of red, orange, yellow, green, and blue jelly beans to form an arch across the cake. It looks best if you place the candies end to end rather than side by side.
Clouds: Mound a bunch of mini marshmallows atop each end of the rainbow.
Dinosaur Dig Site Cake
The perfect choice for a kid obsessed with all things Jurassic, this dino-mite cake features chocolate graham cracker dirt and sugar cookie bones. This recipe was inspired by a Great Cake Contest entry from Pamela M. Of Cumberland, RI.
1/3 cup flour
1/2 roll refrigerated sugar cookie dough (from a 16.5-ounce package)
First make the dinosaur bones. Heat the oven to 350º, then knead the flour into the cookie dough until the dough is smooth. Roll it out to a 1/4-inch thickness. Use a small paring knife and our template pieces to cut bone shapes out of the dough. Transfer the shapes to a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Bake until the cookies are golden brown around the edges, about 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack and allow them to cool completely.
Using a rolling pin, crush eight of the graham crackers in the ziplock bag. Snap the remaining eight graham crackers into pieces that are about 1-inch square.
Frost the cake. Arrange the graham cracker pieces around the top edge. Reserve 1 tablespoon of the crumbs and sprinkle the rest on the top and sides of the cake. Pat crumbs onto the sides to cover any bare spots.
Arrange the bones on the cake as shown. Sprinkle the remaining crumbs lightly over the top. Serves 12 to 14.