Smile Politely

Desserts for a birthday party

Birthdays are exciting. Growing up, my mom always made sure my sisters and I got to pick out a birthday cake for our birthday. As a child, my pick was always chocolate cake with chocolate frosting, but now, I’m just down for something new, something I’ve never had before. I like something a little different than a grocery store cake.

Living another year is something worthy of celebration. Whether it’s you, your partner, your kids, your parents, or your friends, you probably celebrate that birthday with sweets. To me, the birthday cake is the grand finale to a birthday, and it better be delicious. 

These five desserts will give a wow factor to your next birthday party. I’m sharing where I found custom birthday cookies, fun birthday cupcakes, and three amazing cakes here in Champaign-Urbana. 

On a marble counter, there is a scalloped cake plate with a chocolate cake and signature cream cheese frosting stripes from Nothing Bundt Cakes. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Chocolate Bundt Cake | Nothing Bundt Cakes

There are many flavors of bundt cakes available, but I chose the chocolate chocolate chip cake to try. I’ve tried the vanilla, confetti, and red velvet as well (all very good), but this was my first time trying the chocolate flavor. The chocolate cake had Nothing Bundt Cake’s famous cream cheese frosting and a spongy, chocolatey cake full of mini chocolate chips. The chocolate chips were in every bite, giving a little crunch to the cake. The frosting didn’t cover the whole cake, but it wasn’t necessary. These long stripes of cream cheese frosting are thick and sweet; the creamy cream cheese frosting was an amazing touch to this chocolate cake. Some bites had a lot of cream cheese; some had none, just chocolate chocolate chip cake. It was a choose-your-own-adventure for how much frosting I wanted in a bite, and I liked how some bites were more sweet with the frosting and some less sweet with just chocolate cake.

The cakes at Nothing Bundt Cakes come in a variety of flavors: chocolate chocolate chip, classic vanilla, white chocolate raspberry, red velvet, confetti, carrot, lemon, marble, and pecan praline. You can also get bundtlets (mini bundt cakes), bundtinis (bite-sized bundt cakes), or tierered bundt cakes. Check out all the cake offerings here or in store.

Nothing Bundt Cakes
408 W Town Center Boulevard
M-F 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Sa 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

An overhead photo shows a marbled cake with six little chocolate hearts in small poofs of whipped cream. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Tiramisu Cake | Rick’s Bakery

This is my husband’s favorite cake. This tiramisu cake ($28 for a large, $18 for medium) also comes in a mini size for $4 that is perfect for a little treat anytime, no birthday required. Rick’s tiramisu cake was soft and satisfyingly sweet. It had ladyfinger cookies soaked in espresso giving such a deep coffee flavor. The cake itself was a beauty to behold before slicing; it had little whipped cream puffs and milk chocolate hearts on top of the swirled glaze. In four layers, this cake was very moist, soaked with the most amazing creamy, coffee taste. I got the medium size, and it cut eight slices which was plenty for our small family. If you know someone who loves coffee, this is the birthday cake for them.

You can order in advance or stop in to the Downtown Urbana bakery to see if they have one available. Everyday, there are several kinds of cakes available at Rick’s bakery with no pre-order necessary. You can also have the bakery staff write something on top of the pretty marbled top of your cake if you like.  

Rick’s Bakery
124 W Main St
T-Sa 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

In a pink box, twelve cupcakes are lined up in three rows of four. The top row has gray frosting with black cookie crumbles. The middle row has white frosting with rainbow sprinkles, and the bottom row has black fudge frosting with a white diagonal line of frosting on top. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Assorted Cupcakes | Small Cakes

Variety is the spice of life — and for my birthday party this year, I wanted more than just one flavored cake, so I ordered cupcakes in three flavors. I chose four of each: cookies n cream, birthday cake, and chocolate cream. A dozen cupcakes was $45 plus tax, and if you want less than 12 for your next birthday party, you can get a half dozen for $23 or buy the small cakes individually for $4.25 each.

The cookies n cream cupcake was such a great chocolatey cupcake. The sweet chocolate frosting was topped with cookie crumbles which was delicious. The birthday cake cupcakes were vanilla cake with vanilla buttercream frosting and a truckload of rainbow sprinkles. This was a crowd favorite — and for good reason. It was a classic cupcake that had a really fresh and yummy vanilla taste plus all the fun of colorful sprinkles. Lastly, the chocolate cream cupcakes were made for chocolate lovers like me. With a rich chocolate cake and lots of decadent chocolate fudge frosting plus an extra dose vanilla buttercream frosting on top of the fudge frosting, this cupcake was the most indulgent — and my favorite flavor of the box. There are many flavors available including carrot cake, peanut butter, and more at the Champaign store.

Ordering from Small Cakes was so easy. I emailed the shop, and the baker let me know that there was no minimum order, and I could order any amount of any flavor for the same price. 

Small Cakes
2005 S Neil
Su-Th 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
F+Sa 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

An overhead photo shows a white table with a small cylindrical chocolate cake on a white paper circle. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Chocolate Roll Cake | Suzu’s Bakery

Oh my god, friends. This chocolate roll cake ($35) from Suzu’s Bakery was like a Swiss cake roll that grew up into a celebrity. The cake was decorated in such an elegant way with a mostly unfrosted cake, a simple frosting, and garnished with little rolled chocolates. The soft cake had a restrained chocolate flavor, and it was filled with lots of cream in between the rolled layers. Just look at it!

Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

The beautiful chocolate cake rolled over fluffy, sweet whipped cream and a center of gooey chocolate like a mousse or pudding. Somewhere in the layers and rolls there was a really good crunch from teeny, tiny cocoa bites. These little chocolate crunchies added a wonderful texture to an otherwise homogenously soft bite. The cake was pleasantly unique and fit for a party of adults. In fact, of all the birthday desserts in this list, this chocolate roll cake was the only dessert that was finished at the party; every single guest had a slice of Suzu’s chocolate roll cake, and never have I seen that happen at a party of adults before.

This chocolate roll cake was made to order, and the bakery needed 48 hours to prepare, so make sure you submit your order with enough time before the party. Thankfully, we know birthdays well in advance, and this cake is worth the extra effort to have it made fresh specifically for you.

Suzu’s Bakery
114 N Walnut St
W-Sa 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Su 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

On a teal plate, there are sixteen cookies. Four black with a skull, four purple with a star, four orange with a gear, and four blue with a swirl. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Decorated Sugar Cookies | Sweet Designs

Sweet Designs is a custom cake and cookie company in Mahomet. I ordered two dozen decorated sugar cookies for $50. My son wanted Skylanders cookies, and Debi totally delivered. She mixed up four different colors to match the video game icons, and she hand-frosted the logos on each cookie. The cookies were classic sugar cookies: simple and tasty with a good crunch when I bit into one. The frosting was sweet, and the boys had fun staining their tongues and teeth on the colorful cookies. Hearing a bunch of nine year old boys go nuts over these cookies was epic.

You can call or text Debi, the baker, for individual quotes at 217-586-6398. She makes cakes, cupcakes, chocolate chip cookie cakes, and decorated sugar cookies with custom designs. You can find more of her work on the bakery’s Facebook page.

Sweet Designs
703 Eastwood Dr

Top photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Food + Drink Editor

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