I keep seeing the previews flash on the television of the upcoming Sex in the City 2. I know, I know – we all can’t wait to see the movie and Carrie’s gorg outfits, but what particularly caught my eye were the delicious cupcakes in the scene with Charlotte and her little girl. I am a baker at heart (btw) and it inspired me to pass along these helpful hints for cooking in the kitchen with your kids, along with my favorite “clown” cupcake recipe (recipe from the one-and-only Martha Stewart).
Having kids in the kitchen is a great way to keep them occupied, but is also fun, educates and incorporates a range of skills such as counting, measuring and reading, touching, listening, planning, smelling, tasting and above all – imagination!
#1: Keep It Clean and Safe
Teach your child the basics of hygiene such as sudsing your hands before beginning food preparation, and about cross-contamination (i.e. eggs and washing hands after you touch or crack them).
#2: Describe Dangers
I think it’s important to explain the potential dangers in the kitchen and safety. Always look out for sharp knives, hot stoves and ovens, boiling liquids and invisible germs. Understand fire safety and explain how the fire extinguisher works, how to put out a grease fire, and when to call 911. In addition, unrelated to making cupcakes, explain how metal and microwaves DO NOT mix. Any object that contains metal or aluminum should not be placed into a microwave because it could cause a fire.
#3: Prep is Key
Save time and keep your children attentive during your cooking process by cutting and measuring ingredients before you start your baking adventure! I have found that small children can have a short attention span and just want to dump all of the ingredients in the bowl and mix it up! Wink!
#4: Simplify Instructions
Try to give children quick and easy instructions one at a time. You might have to repeat them if they forget, but no biggie!
#5: Give More Responsibility to Older Kids
Encourage your older children (if there is more than one) to try and read the recipe or help measure out/weigh ingredients. For example, ask him/her to pour 1 cup of sugar or unpeel the wrapper for 2 sticks of butter.
#6: Mix it Up for Younger Kids
Mixing in the bowl can be one of the most fun parts of cooking in the kitchen. Have your younger babes be involved in the mixing process by placing ingredients in the mixer and letting them turn on the electric mixer (just not too fast of a speed if it’s flour or you will turn out looking like a ghost covered in white flour!) or stir the ingredient in a bowl with a wooden spoon. This works perfectly for cookie dough!
#7: Frosting is my favorite!
All ages can help with frosting and decorating cookies or cupcakes.
#8: Pretend Play
Younger kids who are not yet able to help with the actual food preparation can still participate! Have them watch you and imitate you by playing with plastic bowls, wooden spoons, and rubber spatulas.
#9: Mr. Clean
I love speedy clean ups! Teach your children to clean while they wait for the next stage in preparing the food (i.e. water boils, soup simmers, etc.). It is great to encourage children to be involved in the cleaning-up process during and after your kitchen session is complete.
Recipe for Clown Cupcakes
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature (1 1/2 sticks)
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 1/4 cups milk
- Vanilla store bought icing
- Rainbow round sprinkles
- Rainbow gum drops
- Chocolate sprinkles (the eyes of the clown)
- Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake pan with cupcake paper liners; set aside. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. In another mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, mixing until incorporated and scraping down sides of bowl, beat in vanilla.
- Add flour mixture and milk alternately, beginning and ending with flour. Scrape the sides and bottom of bowl to assure the batter is thoroughly mixed. Divide batter evenly among liners, filling papers about 2/3 full.
- Bake on the center rack of the oven until tops spring back to touch, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
The cupcakes can be baked a week ahead and frozen, but decorate them no more than a day before serving. Set up an assembly line, and put kids in charge of affixing candy eyes, gumdrop cheeks, and other trimmings. Pack the cupcakes in a plastic container, and stuff crumpled waxed paper in between.
How-To Decorate your Clown Cupcake:
This (see photo) clown is hiding a bellyful of icing. To make this cute clown cupcake, cut a cone-shaped piece from the center; set aside to use as the hat. Pipe vanilla icing (just buy a simple vanilla premade at the grocery store) into the cavity and on top for the head. Use mini uncoated gum-drops for the collar and a cinnamon candy for the nose; insert chocolate sprinkles for eyes. The hat has a vanilla-icing pompom covered in sprinkles.
Final Cooking Note: For children interested in creativity with decoration provide your kids with paper and crayons to whip up “masterpiece” place mats for each family member for the kitchen table.