Ever since we received the Martha Stewart Kids magazine that showed the monkey birthday party, Joey has wanted one. But, for one reason or another, each year she ends up choosing a different theme.
Finally, this year, it happened. And it was great.
This is a picture of Joey reenacting the blowing out of the candle (Jenny's camera was a bit slow and missed the original action). Such an actress.
The monkey cake is described in detail on Martha's site (with video) and was a collaborative effort of mine and Jenny's. I made the head (in a metal bowl) and ears (large cupcake tins). I also did the first layer of frosting with the homemade chocolate butter cream recipe in Baking Illustrated, the baking bible at our house. Jenny did the final smoothing, which worked beautifully with that awesome frosting. She also did all the decorating with the piping bag. Yay for buttercream! Oh yah, and yay for Jenny!
Off Topic (kind-of)- Cook's Illustrated is the best thing ever. Really. They have monthly magazines and a bunch of awesome hardbound cookbooks. Also, they have a recipe website that has a yearly fee to access, but is so worth it. I cannot say enough good things about Cook's Illustrated. They are very precise in their directions, and just about everything we've ever made from any of their recipes has been fantastic. And they aren't paying me to say this (although they should).
Resume post- I also made Banana Coconut Cream Tinies
These are adapted from Cook's Illustrated's recipe for a Banana-Caramel Coconut Cream Pie with Dark Rum. (Sorry, the link won't work unless you want to sign up for their free 14 day trial, which you really should do) And yes, that pie is as incredible as it sounds. My version, above, does not have the caramel or the whipped cream topping (or the rum since it was for kids) and I made them in mini cupcake pans, which was just a perfect little amount. (Click here and scroll back to see my making-of pictures)
Here are the decorations (thank you Tommy!)
And some shots of the various activities.
I gave them brown pipe cleaners and brought up this on the computer screen to let them try their hand at making monkeys.
I also gave them markers, glue, google eyes, felt and scissors and let them decorate little wooden monkeys. (Can you tell how much I love arts and crafts?)
But the best activity was actually Barrel of Monkeys. I bought a couple of them at the grocery store and we timed the kids to see who could pick up the most in one minute. Joey's little 5-year-old cousin kicked everybody's butt the first round. It was great. The kids were so quiet. That is, when they weren't giving helpful advice. When the time was up, or when monkeys fell, everyone groaned. One little girl kept whispering, "Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear," when it looked like one of the monkeys would fall. So cute!
We also played a game called Monkey See, Monkey Do. One kid leaves the room. Then you choose one of the remaining kids to be the leader. Once the first kid (the guesser) enters the room, all the kids need to follow the leader and do whatever he/she does. The guesser then needs to figure out which of the kids is the leader. If the leader goes slow enough and the followers keep from making too much eye contact, it's fairly difficult to guess. This is a pretty fun one too.
I'll end (finally) with a picture of the goody bags that Joey and I made. We adapted these from Martha's version that used cups instead of bags. We couldn't find brown cups, but I had a drawer full of these, so there you go.
For any public pictures of the party that I haven't already put into this post, go here.
Added Note- I forgot to mention that we decided it would be best to attach the monkey ears on the cake using wooden skewers instead of the toothpicks that Martha recommends. Jenny used two halves of a skewer on each side. Worked like a charm.