Sunday, January 29, 2012

Kids Cupcakes

The cookbook Flour is absolutely beautiful.  Joanne Chang has filled the book with mouthwatering recipes that make me want to plan a trip to Boston just so I can visit the bakery.  The book sits on my baking shelf with many recipes bookmarked. I have been so excited to make something that I have been waiting for just the right occasion.  Which means the the book has been sitting on the shelf for over six months, untouched, not a single recipe made.  Until this week when I decided that Tuesday was special enough - we had made it through Monday so we might as well celebrate, with some lovely chocolate cupcakes.

Joanne explains that one of the things she likes about this recipe is that everything is dumped together and the result is a wonderfully moist super chocolaty cake.  Sugar and butter and water are combined until the butter melts and the sugar dissolved.  This is then poured over chopped chocolate and cocoa powder, everything is stirred together until silky smooth.  Some milk and egg are added and then some flour to bring it all together.  Then comes the part I really liked and have never done before the batter is left to rest before baking.  This gives the batter time to absorb the liquid and thicken up.  This little rest period is also good for little ones who might be easily distracted and become more focused on making-up their own recipes than finishing the one they  had started.

My favorite thing about this recipe, besides it's amazing taste and textures is that it a great recipe to do with kids.  There are opportunities to practice cutting, and scooping plus there are a variety of measurements - great for practicing math skills.

But the best part is it doesn't require the use of a mixer.  It is fun to use the mixer and it is great for kids to watch it go around and observe how the ingredients combine.  But, I think it is even better when they are the ones in control of mixing the ingredients together.  It is so much more fun to crack an egg, break the yolk open, slowly stir it around and watch it blend with the other ingredients until it has completely disappeared.  When doing it by hand beginner cooks get a much better sense of what the ingredients feel like and how they they work.  It can be a messy process, but there is nothing cooler than watching an egg drip slowly off the end of a spoon or play with sugar just as it is becoming moist.  Playing with sticky flour is also pretty cool.

Grab your favorite little person, a copy of Flour if you have it, or your favorite recipes and mix it together the "old fashioned" way.  When you're done go ahead and let them lick the bowl, having their name written on the forehead is optional.