This month was my eldest son’s 6th birthday. He asked for a party and being TMNT obsessed we decided to theme it around these muscley green mutants. It was great fun scouring Pinterest for ideas and creating the baloons, party bags and cake to complete the theme. We stated fancy dress on the invites and it was brilliant seeing him dressed as Raphael surrounded by 27 other superheros, animals and princesses.
We’ve held vegan parties before and they’ve always gone well but this was on a whole new scale, the others having been just for family and close friends at home, this was in a local hall with 30 children and their parents most of whom we weren’t sure were aware we were vegan and who we hoped would enjoy the food and not wonder what on earth we were serving up. We decided to go for pizzas and chips, with crisps, salad and vegan sausage rolls. My brother’s best friend owns a pizza takeaway and so he generously offered to open up on a Sunday to cater for us and did an amazing job!
First challenge was the cheese. We don’t eat a lot of vegan cheese but so enjoy Vegusto Golden cheese once every few months but it doesn’t melt and is quite strong in smell and flavour, so the hunt was on for a vegan cheese that melted and tasted as close to the cows milk cheese our 6 year old guests would have been used to. We held a taste testing session with my brother, Dad and children, we tested the two Tesco soya cheeses, the mild and the smoked along with the Violife hard cheese. We loved all three. They all melted and had their own different taste but we decided the Violife was the closest in looks, smell and taste to cows milk pizza cheese. I bought 10 blocks and stood grating them using our food processor before passing them on to Nick the pizza chef. The pizzas were a huge success both with the children and the grown ups who were also given a slice or two. We topped them with various vegetables, had a cheese and pineapple one, mushroom ones, peppers and cheese ones, plain cheese and tomato and we also left two of the pizzas without cheese just topped with mushrooms. We ordered 10 pizzas and expected lots to be left over, but most were eaten much to my husband’s disappointment – there wasn’t so much to bring home to munch on!
Second concern was for those who didn’t eat pizza. We were putting on big bowls of chips which most kids love, but wanted something easy, cheap, traditional in the party food sense and tasty to go with them. We decided on Linda McCartney sausage rolls, they went down extremely well.
For dessert we bought Swedish Glace icecream and served up the chocolate birthday cake with it and also put on fruit platters and platters with Jammy Dodgers too. The kids loved the cake and the ice cream and we had many of the parents asking for the chocolate cake recipe – which I’ll post below.
In the party bags we put a TMNT disc shooter, a plastic flipping frog, a musical instrument, a sweet cone filled with vegan sweets and a vegan chocolate lolly. We placed them into a green paper bag and added a crepe paper mask, a white label cut into a smile shape and outlined with black marker and two googly eyes to turn them into turtles faces. We did the same with the 12 balloons we had ordered.
Putting on children’s birthday parties can be stressful and take an awful lot of planning, however they’re great fun and can be easily made vegan and as cruelty free as possible!
THE CHOCOLATE CAKE RECIPE
I’ve been using this chocolate cake recipe for the last 2 years, it’s never let me down and is a recipe I’ve passed on time and time again to other vegans and non-vegans who’ve been wowed by it. I’ve over the many times I’ve used it tweaked it for our own tastes so my own version is also included below. It works well as cupcakes, square fudge cakes and also as celebration cakes. It does rise like a non-vegan sponge but has a slightly denser texture. This time I used extra light sponge self raising flour and it created a much fluffier cake however we also love the heavier original version made using plain flour which is similar to a fudge brownie in texture. I use a food processor to mix together any vegan margarine (we choose Pure Sunflower), icing sugar and cocoa powder to make the buttercream, I don’t have the exact measurements as I just keep adding the sugar and cocoa until it’s the desired texture and colour.
Each of these cakes made one layer – I used 3 layers in the cake sandwiched with buttercream.
1 1/4 cups plain or self raising flour – plain for a heavier sponge, self raising for a lighter one.
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
1/2 cup boiling water
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
First measure out all the dry ingredients into one bowl and the wet ingredients into another.
Mix the dry ingredients together and create a crater in the centre. Slowly pour the wet ingredients in and combine lightly with a fork, don’t beat or whisk and stop as soon as all dry ingredients are wet.
Pour mixture into a greased tin or into cupcake cases.
Bang tin onto worktop to burst any bubbles, you want the bubbles to form once inside the oven. Work fast to get the tin into a preheated oven.
Cook for 30-40mins (check periodically) at 350F 180C GM4 and test using a skewer.