NYC’s 10 Best Birthday Cakes

Dylan’s Candy Bar

I admit it. I have a cake obsession. My wedding cake was gorgeous, though much smaller than I had anticipated (think of the Stonehenge set from “This Is Spinal Tap”). Since then, I’ve been on a mission to find the perfect cake for every occasion, most often for one of my daughter’s birthday parties. In my mind, living in New York City is the icing on the cake of life, so the fact that there are so many delicious options for birthday cakes is just sprinkles on the icing! Here are some of my favorites:

Tribeca Treats
The icing on Tribeca Treats’ adorable cakes has the consistency of fudge. It is eyes-rolling-to-the-back-of-your-head good and gorgeous. Super-cute standard polka dot designs aside, they can do 3-dimensional decorations that look amazing for the 10 seconds you can keep your kids hands (and mouths) off them, given enough lead time.

Creative Cakes
When money is no object and the imagination runs wild, Creative Cakes is where it’s at. A Creative Cake is always a showstopper, whether you opt for 2-dimensional or 3-dimensional decorations. Given that the options for the exterior cake are endless, you can forgive that the inside of every confection is the same (and surprisingly good!) chocolate cake. They’re an exception to the rule that cakes can only either look good or taste good. Just don’t tell anyone how much you paid, or they might have you committed.

Food Emporium

Food Emporium
On a taste-per-dollar scale, Food Emporium cakes are simply off the charts. The cakes are flat and the designs are generic, but the base is moist, the icing soft and not too sweet, and the pudding filling to die for. Chocolate or vanilla, that center of gooey deliciousness makes the umpteenth children’s birthday party of the weekend well worth the price of the presents and the inevitable bouncy castle tantrum. (I’ve been known to take a piece and finish off my daughter’s as well.)

Magnolia Bakery
Magnolia Bakery essentially makes for you the cake you would make yourself if you (a) had the time, (b) were born in the South, or (c) had any inclination at all to use your kitchen. I, for one, decidedly do not, so they’re a winner in my book.

Two Little Red Hens, photo by Robyn Lee

Alice’s Tea Cup
Consider the secret officially out: If you want Martha Stewart wedding-worthy cakes with lots of flavor and filling options, Alice’s is the place for you. Bring in an invitation, a swatch of fabric, or anything at all, and the artists at Alice’s will make you something truly elegant and special. The best cake I ever bought, hands down.

The all-natural, organic, and allergy-friendly BabyCakes may sound too good to be true, but believe the hype. BabyCakes is a haven for those on restricted diets and a slice of heaven even for those not on restricted diets, with cakes and cupcakes as pretty as can be. When I was breastfeeding my highly allergic second child, I confess to paying the $21 delivery fee more than once for a baked treat (or seven).

Tribeca Treats

Two Little Red Hens
This bakery’s cupcakes are uniformly delectable and beautiful. The cakes are masterfully decorated with buttercream flowers as beautiful as any fondant ones (but a hundred times more delicious). The seasonally decorated sugar cookies make wonderful hostess gifts and can draw out a smile at a school pickup even after a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. Let me just add: They’re so good that I totally lied to my editor about needing a sample of their banana cupcake because “I hadn’t had one in a while.”

Dylan’s Candy Bar
The cake might seem completely beside the point at an over-the-top Dylan’s birthday party, but the cake-flavored and cake-topped ice cream is an unusual and unusually good alternative to a traditional cake. It’s simply awesome, tasting just as good as it sounds. If you’re having the calories, you might as well get the calcium too, right? At least that’s how I justify it to myself after the downstairs candy spree.

Creative Cakes

Remember those whale cakes from Carvel with the cookie crumble in the middle that was better than the ice cream on either side of it? Häagen-Dazs does that same crunchy, crumbly wonderfulness between two flavors of your choice of their darn good ice cream. Enough said.

Baked by Melissa
These mini cupcakes make for bites that are perfectly sized for big people and little people, for big eaters and small eaters. You only need to adjust the amount of the bites you take! For those with artistic ability and patience, the cake art you can design online with different colors and flavors of mini cupcakes can be incredible. They’re certified Kosher and also release new flavors every month!

— Lani Serota is an NYC mother of two and blogger. When she’s not taking advantage of everything New York City has to offer or stuffing her face with cake, she loves to write.