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What to Do with Leftover Birthday Cake

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by Shannon Meyerkort (subscribe)
Writer. Storyteller. Find out more at
Published June 1st 2014
Ideas and recipes when faced with uneaten cake
I made an awesome 'pinata' giant cupcake for my daughter's birthday recently, and as kids are want to do, they ate all the icing and lollies and otherwise ignored the actual cake. When everyone had left and I surveyed the damage, I realised I had almost a kilogram of chocolate cake pieces leftover.

Leftover pinata cake
The kids ate the lollies and ignored the rest of the cake

So I googled 'what to do with leftover cake' and it turns out there are a few options.

leftover cake
What to do with nearly a kilo of leftover cake?

The most common recipe was for rum balls, which funnily enough usually involves rum. But I wanted a kid-friendly snack I could freeze and put into lunch boxes, so alcohol was out of the question. I ended up developing my own simple recipe which had only three ingredients (see below).

Another common theme was to slice the cake and use it as layers in a trifle or parfait. You could layer it with custard, jelly, icecream or cream and use as much or as little booze as you like. This would only work for a full cake, and not off cuts or pre-crumbled cake.

A flowerpot dessert

A beautiful recipe for intact leftover cake was for flowerpots, where the cake forms the bottom layer in a little garden pot, covered with icecream and then edible dirt was sprinkled on top before a real flower added as the garnish. Click here to find the full recipe.

If your cake isn't in any fit state to be used as… cake, then turning it into cake sand or cake dirt might be a perfect solution. Cake sand can be used to decorate a range of other cakes and desserts, and is made by slowly drying out cake crumbs in a cool oven. Click here for details.

One other suggestion was to make a pie crust for a cheesecake. Simply crumble the cake, add a few tablespoons of melted butter and press into a flan tin. Click here for the full instructions as well as some other interesting things to do with leftover cake.

You have to get your hands dirty with this recipe

But I decided to go with cake balls, and even though there are hundreds of recipes some calling for butter, some calling for condensed milk and most calling for booze of some sorts, I went with a simple option.

500g crumbled chocolate cake
200g melted chocolate
150g coconut (I used a mix of large shredded and finely desiccated for texture)

It sounds like a lot, half a kilo of cake, but in truth this amount of ingredient only made around two dozen balls. They were pretty impressive balls though.

The technique is very easy, simply combine the ingredients and then roll handfuls into balls, squeezing them hard to ensure they don't fall apart.

Squeeze hard to ensure the balls don't fall apart

You could easily add a tablespoon or two of your favourite rum or liquor without worrying too much about the consistency. Any more liquid, and you might need to add some extra cake crumbs.

If you felt so inclined some chopped dried fruit such as sultanas, raisins or dates would be excellent, as would nuts (but not if you're planning on sending them to school).

You can make them any size you like, and you can roll them in sprinkles or dip them in chocolate. I left mine plain and put them immediately into the freezer. This way I can take one or two out and put them in lunch boxes as a treat.

Some other tips I picked up when looking for ideas:

-Use wet hands when rolling balls so they don't stick as much

-If you need to add liquid but don't want to use alcohol try strong black coffee, apple or orange juice, or cocoa dissolved in hot water. Also since some recipes call for cream, why not use choc milk? For vanilla cake lemon juice would be nice.

-If you're adding chopped nuts, roast them first to improve the flavour and texture.

-Chill the mixture before rolling them into balls (30 minutes) to make it easier to handle.

-To make a cheap but fancy gift, roll the balls in different coatings such as cocoa, chocolate sprinkles and dipped in chocolate.

-All alcoholic balls will improve in flavour after a couple of days.

-Cake balls will store for up to two weeks in an airtight container in the fridge, or freeze them for an easy and convenient snack.

Easy to freeze for school lunches and treats
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Why? No point wasting good cake
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