Vegan and Non-Vegan Friendly Chunky Monkey Birthday Cake

This chocolate, peanut butter banana birthday cake is going to blow your mind! The awesome design allows for a cake that incorporates both vegan and non-vegan options for a diverse crowd of eaters. As a disclaimer this is NOT a healthy recipe, and doesn’t exactly fall within the realm of a plant based diet. This cake is great for a special occasion splurge with an option free from any animal derived ingredients.

I am the youngest child of four in my family. Between my brothers and sister we have six nephews and one niece, and we are lucky to live within 30 minutes of each other, including my parents. Needless to say, when we all get together we are quite the crowd! In addition to my husband and myself, my parents and my sister all follow an animal product free diet. With a mixed crowd it can be difficult to coordinate meals, particularly when it comes to dessert.


My husband, Andrew, and our nephew, Miles, share the birthday month of February, so my brother and I were set on our mission to create a birthday cake that catered to the whole family. Miles is known as a little monkey. He’s been on the go and ready for action since birth. One of Andrew’s favorite flavor combinations is chocolate, peanut butter and banana. A monkey themed birthday cake was the perfect fit for both!

This cake was 100% a group effort, but hopefully we’ve laid out some groundwork for an easy path to recreate it, or at least provide some inspiration if you find yourself in a similar situation!

Cake Components

  • Two 8″ round non-vegan cakes – Any brand of boxed cake mix is fine, chocolate or yellow depending on preference (My brother used Betty Crocker’s Yellow Cake Mix)
  • One vegan 13″x9″ sheet cake cut into an oval- I used It Doesn’t Taste Like Chicken’s Ultimate Vegan Chocolate Cake – I only used the cake recipe from this post. I used the recipe to make one 13″x9″ sheet cake rather than the two 8″ round cakes the recipe outlines.
  • The Spruce’s Easy Vegan Peanut Butter Frosting
  • My sister’s Vegan Chocolate Frosting – recipe below
  • 3-4 freshly sliced bananas
  • Cocoa Rice Cereal (check to make sure ingredients are vegan in whatever brand you choose)
  • Black and white icing
  • 1 frozen waffle lightly toasted

Vegan Chocolate Frosting


  • 1 cup vegan butter, softened
  • 2 lb powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 4 oz unsweetened cocoa (more or less to taste)
  • Almond milk as needed


  1. Using a stand mixer or hand mixer, mix vegan butter until creamy
  2. Mix in vanilla and cocoa
  3. Slowly mix in powdered sugar
  4. Add almond milk as needed for creamy texture until powdered sugar is fully combined

Cake Assembly

IMG_0569 (1)

** ALL the credit for the cake assembly goes to my brother, Jeff! He was the master crafter with the vision who brought this cake to life. **

Use a large piece of cardboard that will fit both the 8″ and round and your oval cake and cover in foil for a base

Position one non-vegan cake at the top of the board for the head, place a layer of freshly sliced bananas on top of the cake, and place second round cake on top

Put a layer of banana slices directly on the board in the shape of the oval vegan cake. Place vegan cake on top of banana slices. Cut and remove any banana pieces outside of oval cake shape

Spread peanut butter frosting on top of the cake in the shape of the monkey face on the round cakes, and in the shape of the center of the belly on the oval cake.

(Our peanut butter frosting turned out kind of thick. If this is the case for you, spread a thin layer of chocolate frosting across the entire top of the cake first. On parchment paper mold and smooth your peanut butter shapes and flip them over onto the cakes where you want them.)

Carefully spread chocolate frosting around the remaining area of the cakes and up and down the sides

Pour cocoa rice cereal onto chocolate frosting and press in lightly

Cut waffle in half and insert 4-5 toothpicks halfway into the cut sides of the waffles. insert exposed sides of toothpicks into the sides of the round cake to look like ears

Use black and white icing to pipe on face details

For tail use black icing to pipe tail shape where desired and cover with cocoa rice cereal




As you can tell there are tons of ways you can modify this, or use this idea as a jumping off point.

This cake gave my family lots of options whether they preferred vegan vs. non-vegan or chocolate vs. vanilla cake. It took some work, but with a crowd of 18 it’s good to have options! Both parts of the cake got great reviews.

Let me know your thoughts, or if you have any favorite desserts for a crowd with diverse diets or preferences!









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