Kids and grown-ups can stir treats up together in the kitchen

February 09, 1994|By Isabelle Vita | Isabelle Vita,Los Angeles Times Syndicate

Here are four easy recipes with plenty of kid appeal. I developed them especially to be prepared by kids and grown-ups together. There are no age requirements. Even a 2-year-old can stir things up.

Chocolate tarantulas

(Not-So-Itsy-Bitsy-Spiders)

Makes 16 tarantulas

CUPCAKES:

butter for muffin cups

1 package devil's food cake mix

FUDGY FROSTING:

8 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 -inch pieces

1/2 cup whipping cream

1/4 cup sugar

2 tablespoons light corn syrup

1 teaspoon vanilla

COCOA COCONUT:

3 cups sweetened flaked coconut

1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder

black or red shoestring licorice (for legs)

candy-coated chocolate candies

Grown-ups: Generously butter 16 muffin cups. If you have only one (12-cup) muffin pan, see Note.

Prepare devil's food cake mix according to package directions. Spoon 1/3 cup batter into each prepared muffin cup. Bake at 350 degrees until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, 15 minutes. Cool cupcakes in pan on wire rack 10 minutes. With small, thin-bladed knife, loosen cupcakes from pan. Remove cupcakes from pan and cool completely on wire rack.

For frosting, place chocolate and butter in large bowl.

Bring cream, sugar and corn syrup to gentle boil over medium heat in small saucepan. Pour hot cream mixture over chocolate mixture. Let stand 30 seconds to melt chocolate. Gently whisk until smooth. Stir in vanilla. Cover surface with plastic wrap. Refrigerate 15 to 30 minutes or until frosting is of spreading consistency.

Make spider legs:

Cut shoestring licorice sticks into 1 1/2 -inch pieces. Cut enough pieces so each spider will have eight legs.

Kids: Place coconut and cocoa powder in large plastic bag and seal it. Shake until coconut is all brown.

With cake spatula or table knife, spread frosting on tops and down sides of cupcakes. Sprinkle tops with coconut. Stick eight legs (four in each side) in each spider. Place two chocolate-candy "eyes: on each spider. Store leftover spiders in airtight container at room temperature.

Note: If you have only one (12-cup) muffin pan, cupcakes can be baked in two batches. Cover remaining batter with plastic wrap and refrigerate while first batch bakes. After removing cupcakes, let pan cool completely. Wipe any crumbs out and generously butter before filling with remaining batter.

Peanut butter pie

Makes 8 servings

CRUST:

3 tablespoons unsalted butter plus extra for pie plate

18 chocolate sandwich cookies

FILLING:

1/2 cup whipping cream

1/2 cup milk

3 tablespoons sugar

1 cup peanut butter

2/3 cup peanut butter chips

2 teaspoons vanilla

GARNISH:

1/2 cup whipping cream

1 tablespoon sugar

multicolored sprinkles

8 miniature chocolate sandwich cookies

Grown-ups: Melt butter over medium heat in small saucepan. Cool until tepid.

Kids: Lightly butter bottom and sides of 9-inch glass pie plate.

Place cookies in large plastic bag and seal it. Use rolling pin to crush cookies into small pieces.

Place pieces in pie plate. Pour melted butter over them. Using your fingers, mix them together. Pat cookie pieces over bottom and up sides of pie plate. Use flat-bottomed glass to press cookies firmly onto bottom and sides of plate. Place pie crust in freezer while you make filling.

Grown-ups: Beat cream in medium bowl with hand-held electric mixer set on medium speed until it thickens and begins to form soft mounds. (Do not whip until it forms soft peaks or filling will be grainy.)

Place milk and sugar in small saucepan. Heat over medium heat until it is steamy and begins to bubble around sides. Remove from heat.

Kids: Place peanut butter, peanut butter chips and vanilla in large bowl. Have grown-up pour hot milk over stuff in bowl. Wait about 30 seconds while peanut butter chips melt. Stir with rubber spatula or spoon until very smooth and shiny. Feel with your finger. If it feels warm, let mixture cool a little more.

Add whipped cream. Gently stir until it is all mixed in. Remove pie crust from freezer. Scrape filling into pie crust and spread top evenly. Cover top of pie with plastic wrap. Place in refrigerator 1 hour.

Grown-ups: Beat cream and sugar in chilled medium bowl with hand-held electric mixer set on medium speed, until soft peaks form. Fill pastry bag fitted with large star tip with whipped cream. (For best texture, let pie stand at room temperature before serving. Garnish just before serving.)

Kids: Remove plastic wrap off top of pie. Squirt whipped cream on top of pie. Decorate pie with sprinkles and miniature cookies. Have grown-up cut pie into 8 pieces. Store any leftovers in refrigerator.

Dinosaurs and snakes

Makes about 30 cookies

COOKIE DOUGH:

2 1/2 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened

2/3 cup sugar

1 large egg, at room temperature

1 tablespoon milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

green food coloring, optional

GARNISH:

multicolored sprinkles

fruit-flavored decors

green decorating icing

Kids: Stir flour, baking soda and salt in large bowl, using wire whisk, until all mixed together.

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