The appeal of piñata cakes is clear: Slice into what looks like a regular single-tier cake, and a flow of colorful candy spills out. But while these cakes have gone viral among home bakers, they aren’t a staple on bakery menus. As novelty and candy-laced desserts grow in popularity, piñata cakes can be a profitable niche item for artisanal bakeries.
In addition to being a festive dessert choice, piñata cakes can help bring in more customers who may not be in the market for an elaborate dessert.
“It’s an easy sell because it’s very economical for the customer,” says Sherry Sobel, owner of A Cake in Time in Mount Sinai, New York. Her bakery creates custom gender-reveal cakes that spill out blue or pink candy when cut.While Sobel’s specialty is elaborately decorated multitier cakes, these gender-reveal piñata-style cakes allow her to offer a more affordable product that still makes a statement.
“They can be great if you really can’t do a big, expensive cake,” she says. The candy adds a splash of color on its own, so instead of including detailed writing or design on the cake’s surface, customers can opt for a simpler finish.
Piñata cakes also afford customers some flexibility in terms of timing—unlike multitier cakes finished with fondant, smaller piñata cakes can be made on short notice. “Customers will let me know what candy color to use two days before they need the cake,” she says. For gender-reveal cakes, that’s a big plus for customers who may not know which color to use until the last minute.
Beyond gender reveals, piñata cakes can be an easy, affordable last-minute addition to a bakery’s birthday and holiday offerings. Let the candy colors dictate the theme: pastels for spring and Easter; red and pink for Valentine’s Day; and red, white and blue for Independence Day.
As for the shelf life of piñata cakes? Sobel says bakeries that specialize in custom desserts may be best suited to make and sell them, as mass-produced cakes made to last more than a few days often include vegetable-based icing, which can make the candy greasy, and cakes made from whipped cream may not hold a piñata cake up for long.
“I have to do them last-minute,” Sobel says. “I don’t trust the refrigerator and what it’s going to do to the candy.” She opts for M&M’s® and Sixlets® because they’re economical crowd-pleasers that hold up well in baking. For the actual cake, Sobel recommends denser chocolate or vanilla, rather than white almond cake or other more delicate options, to ensure the cake stays intact until it’s time to break it open.