Thursday, May 15, 2008

First Holy Communion Desserts

Continuing the idea of incorporating some symbols and symbolic foods in the First Holy Communion celebration, I am sharing some symbolic dessert ideas.

The main attraction is usually a cake. First Communion Cakes can be very fancy, as I found a beautiful example here and Domestic-Church's suggestions.

Evelyn Vitz in her A Continual Feast shares some wonderful cake and icing recipes and also suggestions for decorating a regular sheet cake:

With the words "Happy (or Blessed) First Communion (or Confirmation)," plus the child's name.

With a short quotation from Scripture, such as "Blessed are the pure in heart; they shall see God" or another of the Beatitudes (Matthew 5), or from Psalms, perhaps.

With the image of a dove, often a symbol for the soul.

With an image of a chalice and a paten (the flat dish holding the sacred Host).

With the image of a standing person praying with arms outstretched (from early Christian art).

With an early Christian image of two angels carrying a "sacred monogram" that is, the letters chi and rho (X and p), which are the first two letters of the Greek word for Christ.

My favorite idea was from my sister-in-law. She used two round cakes. The first she decorated to look like the host, and the second round was cut up for the chalice shape. The stem from the middle of the 2nd round piece and blended the pieces together with the shallow piece as the stand and the deeper piece as the cup. The somewhat crude illustration shows how to cut, then frost in the appropriate colors. Peanut Butter frosting makes a perfect color the chalice. There will be some crumbing to do because of the cut-up cake, but it makes 1quite an impression on the children. Cover a larger piece of plywood with aluminum foil or some other covering to place both cakes together.

Our family loves to use this most delicious Carrot Cake recipe from Tiger Bait: Selected Recipes from LSU Alums for our celebrations. I can easily adapt the following for the above design, or just keep the round cake as the reminder.

Carrot Cake

4 Eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 8 ounce package cream cheese, softened
3 cups grated carrots
2 cups granulated sugar
2 cups flour, sifted
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup chopped nuts

1/4 cup butter
1 8 ounce package cream cheese, softened
1 pound box confectioner's sugar, sifted
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F., grease and flour two 9" round cake pans or one 13x9x2" baking dish (round cakes taste better than the pan with this recipe).

In mixer, combine cream cheese, eggs and oil and beat well. Add remaining ingredients for cake and mix.

Pour batter into already prepared (greased and floured) 9" round cake pans or 1-13x9x2 baking dish.

Bake round pans for 45 minutes and 55 minutes for baking dish. Cool completely before frosting.

Icing: Cream butter and cream cheese together until very light and fluffy. Add granulated sugar gradually, mixing in between. Add milk and vanilla and beat until smooth. This makes enough to ice middle, top and sides of two 9" round cakes. Optional: Add chopped nuts along sides of cake.

Some other ideas:

  • Incorporate white foods for the main meal or dessert, to remind of the purity of soul, the beauty of grace, the white Communion host.

  • Want to do more than a cake? Bake some sugar or butter cookies. Roll dough into a ball, squish into circle with a bottom of a glass, then sprinkle and bake. Decorate using a stencil to sprinkle colored sugar in IHS or other symbol on the cookies, or just use icing.

  • A round cheesecake (even store-bought -- Trader Joes has fabulous frozen ones), surrounded by grapes would be a beautiful visual of the host of the Eucharist and the grapes used to make the wine. Perhaps using icing to decorate some symbols on top of the cheesecake will make it a very easy but visual dessert!

  • Make a round Kugelhopf or bundt cake, insert the baptismal candle or Christ Candle in the middle.
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  1. Wow! This is great Jenn!

    I love the book A Continual Feast! I was just looking through it this past week, trying to get cake ideas for my sons First Holy Communion!

    That Chalice Cake that you linked to is AMAZING!!!! And I LOVE your sister-in-laws idea! That is great! I wish we would be celebrating at home so I could try making it! We will be staying in a hotel, so my options will be limited this time. Your Cheesecake and grapes would be a great option for us.

    THANK YOU for all the ideas!

    God Bless!

  2. Good ideas!

    I bought a cross-shaped pan from Wilton many years ago and it has certainly paid for itself in the many cakes we've baked at home (we have nut allergies in our house, so bakery cakes are out). On the years that we have a First Holy Communion, I buy a white chocolate cross at Easter and save it for the top of the cross-shaped cake. Then you get a multi-layer effect. You can pipe some pretty flowers around the cross and you don't really have to do any writing in frosting, which is hard for many people.

    Thanks for the great ideas, ladies!

  3. Great idea about the investing in a cross cake pan, Barbara. It sounds so pretty but very simple -- my kind of plan!

  4. These ideas are just wonderful -- I never would have thought to make a carrot cake, yum! The chalice idea is elegantly simple, I love it.

    Great post, thank you!