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The Graveyard Book Dessert Challenge – Winners!

Graveyard Book

Okay, so as you may know, we took it upon ourselves to host a Graveyard Book Dessert Challenge. You can read about the whole spiel here, but the gist is that The Neil‘s book, The Graveyard Book, spent an entire year on the New York Times children’s bestseller list. And as a result of the book doing so well, a lot of dessert was being thrown around. Far be it from us to steer clear of dessert, so we challenged you, our readers, to come up with desserts based on The Graveyard Book. Our friends at Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab sent over an entire array of their Graveyard Book-themed scents for the grand prize winner–and we said we would pony up a CBLDF membership for the winner as well.

There is trouble that comes from having these challenges–there must be winners and–let’s not say losers, let’s say people who just win slightly less than others. And in reality, nobody lost, because everybody was provided an excuse to make a dessert and then, of course, eat said dessert. So you’re all winners not just in our book, but in the sense that we’re all getting larger together.

However, we promised winners. And we got it down to three finalists, and then we decided that we had to give the three finalists something, so we ponied up more. Why? Because we love you all. And we are now very hungry. Let’s start with the second runner-up:

Second runner-up:

Sadie’s “Nobody’s Ba-na-na Macabray Mousse”

Nobody's Ba-na-na Macabray Mousse

Here’s what Sadie had to say for herself:

Sadie and her Macabray Mousse
I got so excited about this challenge.

I began thinking up all the elements of food in the book and the banana came to me first. So what I have done here is used a sharpie to create the Graveyard gate setting on the side of a triffle bowl (I used the lid to my cake dome). I made a double batch of homemade custard with “ghoul spice” — a mix of cinnamon, cardamom, Cheyenne pepper, black pepper, and grains of paradise. Then I ladled out 1/4th of this into a separate bowl and whisked in chocolate for the “Top Soil”. After that was done, I layered crushed chocolate stuffed oreos, followed by mini marshmallows and bananas then anchored in Milano and Chessmen cookie “gravestones” for the first layer. Added a layer of the spice pudding, layered in more oreos, marshmallows, bananas and cookie gravestones followed by more spice pudding and yet one more layer, then topped it with the “top soil” chocolate spice pudding. At the top of this I layered gummy worms to bring in the Ghoul and Sleer menace a little, topped with more oreo dirt. Now it is time for the “newest graves” at the very top of the hill. And then once they were all in place it snowed (fresh whipped cream and more marshmallows) and then winter flowers bloomed to be picked (round sprinkles) just in time to dance the macabray….I can almost hear the music now.

Awesome. For more pics of Sadie’s creation, check out the Flickr set here. Thanks, Sadie! We’re going to shoot you a copy of The Neil’s Odd and the Frost Giants. Why? Because we can.

Odd and the Frost Giants

First runner-up:

Lauren’s “Banana Peel in a Graveyard Cupcakes”

Banana Peel in a Graveyard Cupcake

Banana Peel in a Graveyard cupcake, split open

And here’s Lauren to tell you about this batch of cupcakes:

Lauren, measuring
They are called “Banana Peel in a Graveyard” cupcakes. There are inspired by the BPAL perfume “Banana Peel in a Graveyard” and the quote that goes along with it.

[snip]Mrs Owens watched the boy eat. “Ba-na-na,” she said, dubiously. “Never heard of them. Never. What’s it taste like?”

“I’ve absolutely no idea,” said Silas, who consumed only one food, and it was not bananas.[snip]

What they are: Chocolate cupcakes with chocolate ganache frosting, dusted with crumbled oreo cookies and… stuffed with banana cream. I originally got my idea when saw your contest and remembered a recipe from a cupcake book that were vanilla cupcakes stuffed with vanilla pastry creme, covered with chocolate ganache frosting. I though if I changed the cake to chocolate, crumbled some oreo cookies to look like dirt, and stuffed it with banana creme…. It’d be absolutely perfect for a banana “peel” in a graveyard theme!

How they were made: I started with a basic chocolate cupcake recipe from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World by Isa Moskowitz and used whole wheat pastry flour. While the cupcakes were baking I whipped up a modified version of their vanilla vegan pastry creme (from their Boston Cream Pie cupcake recipe) by substituting half of the tofu required with bananas. Hence, turning it into a banana cream. I also made a rich, dark chocolate ganche frosting to serve as my base layer of “dirt” (although the whole cupcake is “dirt” I suppose lol).

After the cupcakes cooled I made a hole in the cupcakes with my finger and piped the chilled banana cream in with a pastry bag. I then covered the cupcakes with the ganache frosting and dusted them with the oreos I crushed to complete the “dirt” effect. Finally I topped off the cupcakes with gravestones, bats, ghosts, old rickety trees, and a little bit colored vegan buttercream piped on to give the feel of old, dead, graveyard grass.

Excellent. For more pics of Lauren’s creation, check out the Picasa set here. Thanks for playing, Lauren! And because your banana infusion excited the judges, we’re going to shoot you a Movie Collector’s Edition of The Neil’s Coraline. Why? Again, because we can.

Coraline: Movie Collectors Edition

And now, the moment you’ve all been waiting/salivating for.

Grand Prize Winner:

Marty and Meredith’s “Graveyard Book Cake”

Graveyard Book Cake - Front Graveyard Book Cake - Back

This cake has not only the Bod hand-painted fondant figure you see here, but also figures–and scenes “underground” (or “undercake,” I guess)–for Silas, Liza, and Mr. and Mrs. Owens. Not to mention The Sleer and his treasures.

Here’s Silas, with suitcase, hat and other bits.

The Graveyard Book Cake - Silas

You can see all the various and sundry details in the Flickr set here.

So, Marty and Meredith, you win the Black Phoenix Graveyard Book scents. And…well, we promised to get somebody a CBLDF membership. Trouble is, there’s two of you. So rather than have you fight over it–and because we love the CBLDF–we’re going to splurge and get you both memberships. You guys get a bonus and the charity gets one too. Everybody happy.

Thanks to everybody who entered! Thanks of course to Black Phoenix for helping sponsor it, and The Neil for not only writing a kickass book that deserved to hang out on the bestseller list for a year, but also re-tweeting this so a lot of cool people could see it.


  • WOW! These are all amazing…I’m totally impressed. It would seem a shame to actually eat them :)

  • I just wish my library were as creative, awesome, or lenient as yours: those are a fabulous round of entries!

  • Thank you to everyone who entered and judged this contest. It was really fun to make and I couldn’t be more excited to have won. I’m a huge PBAL fan and a big Neil Gaiman fan too. I got excited this past summer at the ALA conference about the CBLDF and am also very excited about my new membership. :) Thanks again!

  • These cakes are magnificent. My pie and I are humbled to have played some small role in launch this extravaganza of edible art.