How to make a Pinata Cake

Pinata Cake Birthday Mama Pyjama

Birthday cakes are a big deal in our house, and this year was no exception! :)  My newly turned 6 year old loves pinatas.  What's not to like?!  A big surprise package filled with goodies that you get permission to smash the heck out of?  That's every kid's dream right - even for some of us big kids hey ;) ? So it made total sense this year to create our special little man his very own Pinata Cake. 

It was a huge success, and honestly the easiest cake I've made to date. 

If you want to give it a crack (pardon the pun) - here's how I did it:

What you'll need:

  • 2 packs of chocolate melts (I used 2 x Nestle Bakers' Choice Melts Milk 375g packs)
  • A selection of treats for inside the cake (I used chocolate freckles, gold chocolate coins and m&ms)
  • Cake mix (I used Betty Crocker Chocolate Cake Mix)
  • Chocolate Frosting (I used the stuff that came with the cake mix)
  • Oil Olive
  • Fondant for decorating (I used Queen Ready-to-Roll Coloured Icing from Woolies)
  • Metal pudding steamer (20cm diameter)
  • Round deep cake tin (15 cm diameter x 7.5cm depth)

Step 1: Make the Shell

  • Place the metal bowl in the freezer for 10 mins
  • Remove bowl from freezer and line the inside very generously with oil olive.  I used heaps.  Make sure you cover every inch of the surface.  This will make your life A LOT easier when you go to remove the chocolate shell from the mold. 
  • Once covered with oil, pop bowl back in freezer.

Get your spatula out and ready - you'll need this for smoothing out the chocolate.

  • Empty chocolate melts into a microwave safe bowl (leaving a handful aside to use to 'glue' m&ms to the outside of the shell).
  • Melt chocolate in microwave according to instructions on pack.  FYI, mine took three bursts of 1 minute at medium heat.  Be really careful not to overheat them - stirring each minute.
  • Once chocolate is melted, grab your bowl from the freezer, and make sure your spatula is on hand. 
  • Pour the melted chocolate into the bowl and immediately start swirling it around the bowl to evenly cover the inside surface of the bowl.  You need to be quick as the chocolate sets really fast.  I found that I needed to use a spatula to start spreading the chocolate out as it began to set before I had fully cover the whole surface.  Work with the spatula to ensure an even coverage of chocolate.  Don't stress if it looks really messy.  Mine did too. 
  • Once partially set (a few minutes), cover the inside of the bowl in cling film and pop back in the freezer to fully set. 

I read a lot of recipes on the internet that talked about the difficulty in getting chocolate shell out of the bowl.  Cracked shells, shells that had suctioned themselves to the bowl, multiple attempts to get one out etc etc.  So I thought I'd try something a little different, and I'm very happy to report that it was super successful. 

  • I only left my bowl in the freezer for a short time - about 10-15 minutes. I just had a sneaking suspicion that the longer it was left in the freezer, the more it would set to the bowl and the harder it would be to get out.  I've no idea if there's any science to that, but it worked so let's just go with it.

Then instead of using a 'hot damp towel' to warm the outside of the bowl as suggested in several recipes I read, I did this:

Pinata Cake Birthday Mama Pyjama
  • Fill the kitchen sink with the hottest water from the tap.
  • Place a chopping board on top of the metal bowl.
  • Holding the chopping bowl firmly onto of the bowl, immerse the bowl in the water right up to the top edge (ensuring not to allow any water into the bowl of course) and then count (quite quickly) to 8.
  • Immediately remove the bowl from the water and quickly invert the bowl and chopping board and set on bench (the bowl should be now sitting upside on the chopping board on top of the bench).
  • Gently lift the bowl from the chopping board, and the shell should come out instantly.
  • Stand at the sink and do a happy dance for about 15 seconds.  This step is optional; though it really should be mandatory.
  • Wrap the outside of the chocolate dome in cling film and place into fridge.  Leave there until you are ready to decorate.  I left mine in the fridge for about 6 hours.

Step 2: Make the cake

  • As I said, I used a cake mix...you can use whatever you like, but make sure you bake it in a 15 cm diameter cake tin so that it will fit nicely inside the pinata shell.
  • I had a bit of a cake bake fail, using all of the cake mix to fill the tin.  Don't do that.  In hindsight, I probably should have used about 2/3-3/4 of the mix, not all of it.  It makes a heck of a mess, but luckily the cake was still salvageable! :)
  • Once baked and cooled, using a serrated knife cut a hole out of the centre of the cake, about 8 cms in diameter and about half the depth of the cake.  This is where all the lollies will sit.
  • I choose just to ice the very top surface of the cake so that I could stick some m&ms and freckles onto the top.  It's up to you how much you ice.  I just figured there was enough sugar on the cake already and that icing the whole thing would just get super messy for the kids.
  • Decorate the cake however you see fit and fill centre with lollies.  I used gold coins, freckles and m&ms.
  • Wrap in cling film and set aside.

STEP 3: Decorate the Pinata Shell

You can decorate the cake shell however you like.  If you want to use a variety of different sized chocolate buttons, you'll need to melt the chocolate buttons you set aside to 'glue' the buttons to the surface of the cake.

I used different coloured fondant cut into stars and circles to decorate mine.  I found the fondant stuck directly to the chocolate shell so that made things super easy.  I then added some m&ms using melted chocolate to stick them on.

It's really your canvas though - so go crazy.  You can use anything really.  So long as it's edible!  I have some great ideas for other pinata cakes - particularly some pretty ones that I'll likely not get to make being a mum of boys!  So hey, just putting it out there, I'd be happy to create for any Perth readers if you have a birthday coming up!  Feel free to inbox me at yomama@mamapyjama.com to discuss. :)

STEP 4: Put it all together

The fun part...actually the fun part leading up to the funnest part!

  • I'd suggest putting this together on a cake board of some description - a big chopping board would suffice.  Last thing you want is you 6 year old smashing to heck out of your dinner table...not to mention your plates. 
  • Unwrap the cake and pop it into the centre of the cake board.
  • Pick up your chocolate shell very carefully, and position it above the cake.  Gently and carefully lower it over the top.
  • Wrap the outside of the shell carefully with cling film and then place back into the fridge (on the board) until you're ready to sing Happy Birthday.  This will ensure the shell is as hard as possible, and will enable a nice big 'crack' on first hit.

Step 5: Smash and Enjoy!

Serve the cake with a hammer for smashing, preferably a kid's hammer. We used a meat cleaver as we couldn't find the kid's hammers that were supposed to be in their toolbox!  I probably wouldn't recommend that as your first choice though. ;)

Let the kids go crazy!

If you're in Perth and want someone else to do the hard work for you...I'm happy to discuss creating a cake like this for you.  Contact me.

If you're looking for more birthday cake ideas, check out my gallery here