Tag Archives: baking

How to Cheap Out on a Barbie Cake

Rose is obsessed with the Barbie dress cake at our local Meijer. Every single Saturday, she stares at the cake, points at it and says “Mommy, I want that Barbie cake for my birthday.” She said this even before she had any business knowing what a birthday was. It started shortly after her second birthday. So for the past year, I knew we’d have to get that Barbie cake for Rose.

(Image from allrecipes.com)
We had a joint birthday party for our big girls on Saturday. Their birthdays are a month apart and I am not cleaning my house and inviting the same people over twice in 34ish days, so we just lumped them together. This past Monday, I called Meijer to see how much the famed Barbie dress birthday cake cost.

$36.99.

Um, no.

I am not paying $36.99(!) for a 3 year old’s birthday cake. I know there’s a Barbie inside the cake, but still. That’s almost as much money as we paid for her actual birthday present.

Making a regular Barbie cake dress at home wasn’t really an option either. The dress pan cost at least $20 and by the time I bought the doll, cake mix and cake decorating stuff we’d probably be back up at $36 or higher. Sure, I could use the pan again, but I know I suck at cake baking and decorating and probably shouldn’t even try. I just saw that there’s a way to make the cake without the special pan, but that would be an absolute disaster with me involved. Cake and I just don’t get along. I’ve been trying to decorate a decent cake for the past 4 years and 80% of the time I take a cake out of the pan it falls apart. There will be no pretty cakes for dairy-allergy Lily until she gets over her allergy.

^What happens when I try to make a pretty cake on my own.

I was sad, but then I had a thought. Last year my mother made me a Rice Krispie cake that ended up looking like a hill. Or a boob. I had a feeling that if I sculpted some warm Rice Krispie treats, I could make them into a Barbie dress.

Our ingredients, including decorating candies and sprinkles.


The unresearched plan was simple: triple the regular Rice Krispie treat recipe, mold a mountain around a Barbie doll and decorate it with candy and frosting. We used two bags of big marshmallows, two boxes of Rice Krispies, margarine, a can of blue frosting, blue food coloring, Twizzlers, multi-colored mini-marshmallows, candy corn, two types of sprinkles and gummy bears.

Since Rose will only wear blue dresses, it was very important that this doll cake have a blue dress and we tried our darnedest to make this happen. Even though my marshmallows were a little browned, everything was fine in the pan. It seemed like we were going to have a blue dress even after we poured it into the cereal (and I burned my arm something awful on the pot).

Alas, Rice Krispies are apparently yellow enough to turn blue marshmallow goo green, but behold! It worked!

A Barbie dress cake for $15ish instead of $36.99! I saved at least $20! Genius! Rose didn’t even care that the dress ended up turning green. She insists it is still blue because the marshmallows were blue.

If you attempt this at home, my insider tip is to put the Barbie in AFTER you make a giant Rice Krispie hill instead of trying to build a dress around the Barbie. Barbie kept leaning into the still gooey/warm marshmallow mix and nearly knocking her dress over when I tried to build the dress around her. Once I made a mountain without her in it, she slid into the goo fairly easily and didn’t have much more trouble with tilting, though some of the Rice Krispie chunks did try to jump off her waist before things solidified.

The dress had the potential to be really beautiful even with ME decorating it, but my kids really wanted at it and they decorated it themselves. Who am I to say no to their enthusiasm? I mean, it was their birthday cake. So, it ended up looking like this.

Definitely decorated by a 5 year old and an almost 3 year old! They did it while I nursed the baby so I wasn’t even really there to monitor it. Less work for me and they had fun– I’ll take it!

So, if you want a Barbie cake and have zero cake making/assembly/decorating skills and don’t want to spend $36.99, this is your solution. If a cake idiot like me can do it, so can you!

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For the Love of Chocolate Chips

Lily has a dairy allergy. It is the bane of my existence.

Actually, at this point, dealing with the allergy these days is not that bad. I know exactly what brands we need to buy of almost everything, so grocery shopping is a breeze (if expensive). There are dairy-free substitutes available for most things, so I am able to feed her pretty normally. We can’t eat cheese-based dishes, but otherwise things aren’t that difficult. I am even able to bake with her regularly and things taste good, thanks to butter flavored Crisco and Kroger brand semi-sweet chocolate chips.

Or at least I WAS able to bake with her.

Recently the cashier let me know something I bought had been recalled. The Kroger Value semi-sweet chocolate chips we’d come to know and love at our house had been contaminated with dairy. I was glad we hadn’t used our most recent bag, but assumed that this was only a problem with one particular batch of chips and we’d be able to continue using them in the future.

The next time I went to buy Kroger Value semi-sweet chocolate chips, I double checked the label and discovered that now they officially contain milk. They changed their recipe. They are no longer dairy-free.

“Aw, that’s too bad,” you say. “Move on and choose another brand.”

It’s not just too bad. It’s absolutely catastrophic. Kroger’s chocolate chips were the ONLY chocolate chips I’ve been able to find in regular grocery stores that did not contain dairy. Not only were they dairy-free, they weren’t intentionally vegan (if vegan at all. We aren’t vegan.) so they weren’t expensive. I believe they cost under $2 for 10 oz, though the internet will not spit up an official price for them.

For $2 I could buy chocolate chips and bake chocolate chip cookies with my dairy-allergic child– cookies that can not be bought at stores or in most bakeries. All of her cookies must be homemade because of the butter and dairy-containing chocolate almost all bakeries use.

Our chocolate chip cookie days are over. We can no longer walk into a Kroger and buy dairy-free chocolate chips in the regular baking aisle. In fact, our Kroger carries no dairy-free chocolate chips at all. Neither do our other local grocery store options Meijer and Wal-Mart. There are no dairy-free chocolate chips in our local regular stores. There is a vegan store in town, but I haven’t been there yet to see how much vegan chocolate chips cost. Everything in that store costs an arm and a leg so I suspect it won’t be cheap. The internet tells me I will be spending five times as much to get chips now that Kroger changed their recipe. A 10 oz. bag of dairy-free chips is nearly $10 on amazon.

Why did Kroger change the recipe? It wasn’t broken. The chips tasted great. And why are there no other mainstream chocolate chips without dairy? The dairy isn’t necessary unless the chips are made out of milk chocolate.

I guess from now on we’ll be baking oatmeal raisin cookies. I love oatmeal raisin, but chocolate chip cookies are a staple of childhood. I am heartbroken that the cost of chocolate chips is going to keep us from baking them.

Maybe there are other cheaper options out there, but for now I’m just fuming at Kroger for changing the recipe and taking away my easily accessible, cheap dairy-free chips.

It’s a good thing Oreos are dairy-free. (And they better stay that way!)

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