A few years ago I made a dessert for my friend Debbie’s surprise Hallowe’en-themed party. I was given the option to make cookies or a cake, so I chose both! This Paint Nite-inspired cake and cookie set is easy to make and looks way harder than it is!
You can start with a store-bought cake, or bake one yourself and prepare it for decorating with a layer of fondant to look like a tablecloth. I used white so the rest would stand out but you could use any color.
To make the easels you will need narrow rectangular cookies. You can bake your own or go the faster route and buy them! I used Cadbury Fingers but any log or stick-shaped cookie will do. You will need candy melts as the “glue” to hold the easel together so just be sure to match the candy melt color to your chosen cookies. Note- you don’t want to use regular chocolate for this as it will soften at room temperature and your easels will fall apart.
First make an A shape with a cookie going horizontally across two others for the easel’s ledge, and then after the candy melts set up use a 4th cookie as the vertical support leg. It’s easy to work this assembly-line style, being sure to leave enough time for the chocolate to set hard. I found that I only had to hold them in place for about a minute before they were able to stand on their own.
Of course any Paint Nite needs something to paint on! You can bake cookies yourself or use any rectangular cookie that has at least one flat side, like Biscoff, butter biscuits or shortbreads.
To make edible “paint” mix icing sugar with small amounts of water until you get a loose icing consistency. Paint Nite projects often have a gradient background with a silhouette design on top, so I used that style for my mini paintings. I chose Fall colors with pumpkin orange and white for a sunset and as this was a Hallowe’en party I added a black cat on a fence silhouette and full moon. This also worked well with the Paint Nite habit of using few colors in beginner paintings.
I painted the cookies much as you would at an actual Paint Nite – first painting the gradient background, then once dry adding the top layer.
The fun part was making each one just slightly different, while still being the same image – exactly how the results at a true Paint Nite would be. Everyone follows the same process and comes out with mostly the same image yet they’re all slightly unique to the individual artists.
I also used a few extra cookies to write a message for the birthday girl on her big day.
Of course, every Paint Nite requires supplies, so we need to add the solo cups-as-water cups, Styrofoam plate “palettes” and big orange brushes.
I made all the accessories out of scraps of fondant. For the solo cups simply layer a thin strip of white on top of the red before cutting out a strip to roll into a cup shape. The brushes are narrow rolls of fondant with the brush end dipped into the icing “paint”. The plates are small discs of white fondant smeared with dollops of leftover paint from painting the cookies. To make the “dirty” paint water I swirled a bit of each paint icing into clear piping gel.
Staging the table was super fun! Unlike a real Paint Nite where I try to be as neat as possible, here I got to be messy! I “glued” the fondant accessories in place with a small dab of water and then added drips and splatters of the paint to really sell the “end of the night of crafting” look.
I was so thrilled with how the final cake came out! It was one of the most fun cakes to make and allows for a ton of personalization. All the components can be homemade or store-bought which means this design can work with all budgets, and you can tailor the paintings to match any theme.