Monday, November 25, 2013

Cooking With Children: Cupcakes

Need cooking ideas for kids? The answer - cupcakes. Whether you're young or young at heart, cupcakes are universally loved. What's not to love? They're light, they're flurry, and they're smeared with deliciously creamy, sweet icing in all manner of delightful flavors. They look gorgeous, too - whether it's chocolate sprinkles, crushed nuts, M&Ms, or a smiley face, cupcake frostings just make you happy. The best thing is, cupcakes are super easy to make, so they're perfect for cooking with children.
Cupcakes are one of the easiest cooking recipes for kids around, and they're almost foolproof, so they'll empower your children and give them a sense of achievement and satisfaction. Cupcakes are also great for getting your kids' creative juices flowing - supply them with plenty of food coloring and toppings, and watch them mix and match colors and create culinary works of art fit for photographing.
To make an easy children's cooking vanilla cupcake, you'll need:
1 1/2 cups of self-rising flour
1 1/4 cups of all-purpose flour
1 cup (2 sticks) of butter
2 cups of white sugar
4 large eggs
1 cup of milk
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line two muffin trays with cupcake cases. In a separate bowl, cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy, then beat in the eggs gradually. Then, add the dry ingredients gradually, along with the milk and vanilla. Spoon the batter into the cupcake cases, bake for about 20 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean, and then allow them to cool on a wire rack.
Next, the fun part - icing. This is where cooking with children gets interesting! Prepare a basic vanilla butter icing by combining, in an electric mixer:
1 cup (2 sticks) of softened butter
6 to 8 cups of confectioners' sugar
1/2 cup of milk
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
Add all ingredients gradually. Once your icing is done, your kids can go wild with jazzing up the icing to make their cupcakes look dazzling.
Divide up the icing into five or so small bowls and show your kids how to add a drop of food coloring to each bowl to turn white icing into pink, green, blue, and yellow icing. When you're cooking with children, every step in the process is an opportunity to educate - show your kids how a drop of yellow food dye and a drop of red food dye will make orange icing! It's an art class and a cooking class in one.
Fill other bowls with plenty of different toppings, such as chocolate sprinkles, M&Ms, rainbow colored sprinkles, jellies, rice crispies, and glazed cherries, and watch your little ones decorate their iced cupcakes with smiley faces, fairies, Martians, rainbows - and more abstract images!
Cooking with children is never just about baking - it's about developing confidence, creativity, and life skills. Always teach your kids the importance of cleaning up after cooking; show them that it can be fun by singing a cleaning up song, and always tell them how much you appreciate their help.

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