Caterpillar Cake & the Buggy Birthday Party

Our first ever “friends” birthday party was buggy in more than one way. Some things certainly didn’t turn out as planned, but I’ll share my experience anyway. And the caterpillar cake was adorable.

If you’re looking for insect / ladybug / bug related birthday items, you can find some here and support this article at the same time!

We just had a Buggy Birthday Party for my now five-year-old. I can only hope the kids had fun, but I was so busy trying to keep things running, I honestly don’t know. Thankfully a few other moms were there and were kindly willing to help. But my main gague of how it went are my husband’s comments, and if his view is accurate, it was a total flop. I tried so hard to make it fun, and I’m a bit sad to know I spent all that energy for something that didn’t turn out well.

However, the caterpillar CAKE did turn out well. So that idea I will share, plus the other ideas I had and whether or not they worked.

Going with the theme of Bugs, and loosely defining bugs as arthropods, a caterpillar cake was fitting. And it was easy. Actually, now that I think about it, the first attempt at at the caterpillar cake flopped too, but I happened to have just enough time to correct it. I am hoping anyone who googles across this looking for bug birthday parties can learn from my mistakes, correct what went wrong, and have a better party than mine. πŸ™‚

The first time I made the cake, I failed to account for the fact that I was at a much higher elevation than I’d been used to, and it came out full of gigantic bubbles that made it fall apart. Luckily, once I decided on a do-over, it went together very quickly.

By the way, to those of you complaining that I lifted this idea, I came up with it myself or I would have said otherwise. Someone copied it almost word for word and posted it to Family Fun, only their cake looked scary. This is the original. Consider the source sited.

The ingredients:
White chocolate chips
“Special Dark” chocolate chips
Lemon Frosting
Lemon Cake Mix (plus required ingredients)
Just a little green and yellow food coloring
Nestle Crunch “Stixx” (Sticks)

You also need a bundt pan, a wire rack, waxed paper, a pastry brush, shortening, flour, and a sharp serrated knife. If you’ve got a leaf-shaped serving tray, PERFECT, otherwise you’ll also need some green paper leaves to set on a regular tray.

This caterpillar cake looks ADORABLE on a table set all in green, or you can mix up a few favorite colors like green and blue, depending on your party them. You can find some inexpensive colorful plasticware / table settings here

Make a cake following the recipe, baking in a greased and floured bundt pan.  Let the cake cool for 15 minutes then turn it onto a wire rack that is over some waxed paper.
Make a cake following the recipe, baking in a greased and floured bundt pan. Let the cake cool for 15 minutes then turn it onto a wire rack that is over some waxed paper.
Cut a section out of the cake, and turn it around on itself so it's curvy like a caterpillar. Level off the bottom if you have to.
Cut a section out of the cake, and turn it around on itself so it is curvy like a caterpillar. Level off the bottom if you have to.
Mix the frosting with a little food coloring to make a lovely chartruse.  Heat it up in the microwave for about 10 seconds, to the point where it's easily poured but still somewhat thick.
Mix the frosting with a little food coloring to make a lovely chartruse. Heat it up in the microwave for about 10 seconds, to the point where it is easily poured but still somewhat thick.
Drizzle a spoonful of the frosting at a time over the cake.  It's not going to look 'smooth' but when's the last time you saw a smooth looking catapillar?  A side thought -- this shape would make a lovely cake for anyone who is turning 29 for the umpteenth time.
Drizzle a spoonful of the frosting at a time over the cake. It is not going to look smooth, but when's the last time you saw a smooth looking catapillar? A side thought -- this shape would make a lovely cake for anyone who is turning 29 for the umpteenth time.

UPDATE: Try adding a little vegetable oil to the melted chips. This things out the chocolate and makes it easier to drizzle at cooler temps. Melt the white chocolate chips and dark chocolate chips in the microwave as well. Only microwave them for ten seconds at a time, stirring quite a bit in between. You don’t want to over-melt the chips, since you’ll need to temper them anyway. Cool them off to the point where they’re still melted but no longer hot. Two things happen if you leave it too hot: the dark chocolate blooms and you’ll make the green frosting melt right off the cake.

Spoon the white chocolate over the cake. You might need to ease it down the edges just a little.  Then do the same with the dark chocolate.
Spoon the white chocolate over the cake. You might need to ease it down the edges just a little. Then do the same with the dark chocolate.
Transfer the entire cake to the serving tray, and add the Nestle Crunch Stixx for antennae. You can add chocolate chip eyes if you'd like.  My picture here might be a little TOO close to see the whole effect, but, it was very cute.
Transfer the entire cake to the serving tray, and add the Nestle Crunch Stixx for antennae. You can add chocolate chip eyes if you would like to. My picture here might be a little TOO close to see the whole effect, but, it was very cute.

One thing that didn’t turn out so cute, however, were the bug-pizzas. I can’t call them “lady bugs” because they were for a boy. Whatever πŸ˜‰ But the real reason I can’t call them that, is by the time they were baked, they didn’t look like bugs at all.

Prior to baking, they looked somewhat like bugs. Not so much afterward.
Prior to baking, they looked somewhat like bugs. Not so much afterward.

Several well meaning people told me they looked like tadpoles. Other, more honest people, admitted that the “tails” (originally the divider lines for the backs of the lady bugs, which shriveled in the oven, to my dismay) were too thin for tadpole tails, but they did look like little swimmers of a sort. All that said, they still tasted good, but no one knew it. They were eating the Little Ceasars pizza my husband brought. When we got home he said, “Those bug pizzas were a waste of time. No one even tasted them. Good thing I brought the other pizzas!” Yep, thanks.

The invitations were cute, but if I were to do them again, I would simplify the shape significantly... perhaps start with three ovals, and use strips of paper for the legs and antennae.
The insect invitations were cute, but difficult to make.

The games we were to play, were “six legged” races (three kids would link arms in the back and run that way), a bug treasure hunt – where the kids were to find 96 bugs from Oriental Trading Catlogue, and a craft of buggy-visors (visors with pipe-cleaners through the holes, threaded with beads to complete the antennae). We were going to play at the park too, but the park turned out to be too crowded that day.

Each child got a balloon and a bag of favors: magnifying glasses, pop rocks, a tiny chico-stick, smarties, laffy-taffy, sour-straws, and a booklet I’d made about bugs. The printer got the margins all wrong, but other than that they were cute, and I met a nice girl at OfficeMax who helped me put them together.

Now all that’s left to do are the thank-you cards. Ethan will need to help with those. The kids brought so many fun toys, and the adults who stayed there were lifesavers. The party should have been fun, and I’m a bit disappointed that it wasn’t as much fun as it could have been. I think if I were to give it another go it would be better, but, no need. Ethan was happy, and that’s what matters most to me.