I started planning Hadleigh’s first birthday when he was still crawling around drooling all over himself. It was the most fun I have ever had planning anything, and if I had to be completely truthful it was a celebration for me as much as for him. I loved every moment of the planning, and creating and baking and hope there is something here that will give you inspiration for your next party!
The cake: It had to be a log cake, and I did my best to make it look like a log on the forest floor with soil and moss and mushrooms. The cake was a chocolate log cake filled with chocolate mousse and covered in chocolate ganache. I dragged a fork across the ganache as it was setting to create the rough bark look. The soil was just a chocolate crumb, and I made the moss with a white crumb and mixed in green powder food colouring. I made meringue mushrooms dusted with cocoa powder (there are heaps of how to articles if you do a simple Google search for meringue mushroom). The red and white toadstools I made with fondant and brushed some sugar syrup over the top and sprinkled it with white nonpareils.
Moss cupcakes: I used my favourite chocolate cupcake recipe as the base. To make the “moss” I used a vanilla cake recipe and mixed in green food colouring. Once it was baked and cooled down I blitzed it in the food processor to make a fine crumb. Then dipped each cupcake top into melted chocolate ganache and then dipped it into the green “moss”crumbs. Super easy!
Toadstool cake pops: I made red velvet cake pops, dipped it in red melting candy and sprinkled with white nonpareils. We drilled holes into a slab of wood which made for the prettiest cake pop stand!
Acorn bites: I came across these in my copious woodland Google searches and was obsessed. I had to have them. They are made by attaching Nutter Butter Bites to chocolate kisses with a small amount of chocolate ganache. I piped a small “acorn top” (or you can use small chocolate chips) on the other exposed side. *I could not find Nutter Butters Bites anywhere in the whole of Australia 😦 but I was very thankful when mum’s good friend who went to visit the States said she will bring some back for me!
Woodland cookies: I searched far and wide for woodland cookie cutters, and nearly gave up when I finally stumbled across the Ikea woodland set and could not believe my luck!
Forests in a jar: As a self-proclaimed D-I-Y junkie I just could not get myself to ever throw away the glass jars Hadleigh’s baby food came in. And finally I found an awesome use for the beautiful little glass jars!
Layer 1 – Chocolate cake: pour approximately 3 tablespoons of any chocolate cake batter (I used my favourite chocolate cake recipe) into the jar – because the jars are glass they can go in the oven! Bake for 15 minutes at 160C and test with a skewer. Remove from the oven and let it cool for the next step (I placed all my jars on a baking tray for ease of handling).
Layer 2 – Chocolate ganache: using 2 parts chocolate to 1 part cream, heat cream and add to chocolate and stir until well combined. While the ganache is still warm and runny pour 1 to 2 teaspoons of ganache over the the cake layer and let it cool and set.
Layer 3 – Chocolate “soil”: blitz a packet of Oreo biscuits in a food processor until coarse in consistency. Sprinkle a layer of Oreo soil over the ganache layer.
Decoration: Fondant mushrooms and moss rock. I made the moss rocks by cutting marshmallows into random pieces, dipping it into water and then into green sanding sugar. Close the bottles with their lids and they will last at least two days. *Tip: I was lucky that the colour of the lids matched the colours of the party (yellow, green and brown) and I printed round labels with “thank you” typed on them and stuck them on top of the lids to hide the brandame of the baby food, but you would easily be able to paint the lids also to match the colour scheme you need.
Sandwich snails: I found some square wholemeal wraps which worked out much better than a round wrap (which will also work, but you might be left over with some wastage on the two ends). Simply lay the wrap flat and spread with a thin layer of mayonnaise, then a single layer of ham (or any other cold meat), then a layer of cheese (I used the soft processed cheese squares because they bend a lot easier once you start rolling). Starting at one end slowly roll the wrap over itself until you have a long tube and cut into sections of approximately 5cm wide. I inserted toothpicks into each one for ease of handling.
Tomato and Cheese mushrooms: I found string cheese that was in a perfect cylindrical shape and cut it into approximately 3cm wide pieces to use as the base of the mushroom. I then cut cherry tomatoes in half and scooped the seeds out and placed on top of each cheese “stem”. I put about a teaspoon of mayonnaise in a disposable piping bag and piped small white dots all over the mushrooms.
His name: I found these cute moss letters online and secured it onto a piece of wood as the centre piece. I found this beautiful and perfectly sized branch when we were out on a walk one day and fastened the letters on to it using a glue gun.
Placecards: I picked up some twigs of similar width and my lovely husband sawed them all up into equal sizes. I used a glue gun to attach two to each other and it made a perfect slot for a placecard to sit in.
Wishing tree: I wanted the guests to be able to write a wish for my sweet baby and I found a wooden tree at a craft store and spray painted it white. I hung tags on the branches and left a note asking guests to write down their wishes.
Milestone chart: There are loads of chalkboard charts around and I did a Google search for some ideas. I had an old frame in the garage that used to be a mirror and I painted the backing board in chalkboard paint and used a chalkboard pen to draw up the chart. *Tip: to practice the spacing and sizing of the chart I drew it all on the back of the board first then using a pencil I draw it all out on the chalkboard side before drawing it on permanently.
Bunting: No party is complete without it 🙂 here is my step-by-step post on how to make your own bunting.
Woodland masks: I made some felt masks for the kids to wear and had the instant camera there to capture every sweet moment! 🙂 (I’ll be posting a step-by-step soon on how I made the masks)