kid friendly recipe

Snickerdoodles

Snickerdoodles

In cooking camp today,  we will be baking cookies, including Snickerdoodles. This is a recipe that has been around a long time and is still a favorite.

The kids really enjoy rolling the dough in cinnamon sugar, before baking.

The old version I had, called for shortening, but I use butter instead,  and chill the dough. I prefer the taste of butter in cookies.

These are a great light dessert for summer and they travel well, too. A nice treat to bring to your next cookout, picnic or road trip.

Snickerdoodles can also be used to make awesome ice cream sandwiches.

 

 

Snickerdoodles

1 c. butter, softened
1 ½ c. sugar
2 eggs
2 ¾ c. flour
2 t. cream of tartar
1 t. baking soda
¼ t. salt
2 T. sugar
2 t. cinnamon

Mix butter, sugar and eggs. Combine next 4 ingredients and add to egg mixture. Chill dough at least a couple of hours. Combine sugar and cinnamon in shallow bowls. Roll dough in 1-inch balls and roll in cinnamon sugar. Place 2-inches apart on ungreased baking sheet and bake in a preheated 375 –degree oven for 9-11 minutes. Makes 6 dozen.

Cherry Bombs

Cherry Bombs

These little treats make a great addition to your 4th of July party. They are simple to make, with only three ingredients.  You can make them in no time at all. It is a fun treat for kids to make, too.

Think of the cherry bombs as a type of candy. A simple, sweet treat that can be served just as they are. They can also be used to top a cake or other dessert. You can even garnish a cocktail with them. I did the same thing with strawberries, but “strawberry bombs” did not have the same ring to it.

 

To make the cherry bombs, you will need cherries, white chocolate and blue sugar. If you don’t have blue sugar, you can put granulated sugar in a bag, add a few drops of blue food coloring, seal the bag and shake it up. The sugar will turn blue. You could also use blue sprinkles.

Wash and dry off some large, sweet cherries. Melt white chocolate, stirring until smooth. Dip the cherries in the white chocolate, then the blue sugar. Place on wax paper to firm up. Store in fridge.

Homemade Hot Cocoa Mix

Hot Cocoa Ice Cream Cone

I am always looking for homemade gift ideas for the holidays. I really like gifts that both adults and kids can make. This one is just a simple way to package homemade hot cocoa mix to make it special. We made these in a holiday gift class the other night. People really enjoyed making them.

You start with hot cocoa mix- recipe follows. Then you get these cone shaped bags. I use a 12-inch size and a 17-inch size. I buy my online but they are available in some craft and candy making stores. Just put about 1 cup of the hot cocoa mix in the smaller cone shaped bag. Fold the top down and tape it shut. Now place the smaller bag inside the larger bag. Add about a cup of mini marshmallows mixed with some chocolate chips. The chips are optional. Tie shut with a ribbon. It ends up looking (sort of) like an ice cream cone.  I add a label that says “Hot Cocoa for Two” with directions that say, “Divide hot cocoa mix between two large mugs. Fill with a cup of boiling water in each. Stir and top with the marshmallows”. You can make whatever label you like. A quick and simple gift. You could also include mugs with the gift. This is a great idea for kids to make for grandparents, teachers, etc.

 

 

Here is the recipe for the hot cocoa mix.

Hot Cocoa Mix

3 c. nonfat dry milk
1 c. cocoa
1 c. sugar
1/4 t. salt
1 c. mini marshmallows (optional)

In large bowl, mix all ingredients well. I like to sift the ingredients in because it powders the milk even finer than the way it comes. Store in an airtight jar and use within 6 months. To use add 5 tablespoonfuls to 8 ounces boiling water. Variation, flavor with cinnamon, instant coffee, cayenne pepper or even dried orange peel.

Homemade Chocolate Truffles

Chocolate Truffles

In keeping with my homemade gift theme this week, I wanted to share this simple, yet very tasty recipe, for Homemade Chocolate Truffles. These melt in your mouth, with a smooth, creamy texture and rich, chocolate flavor.

They can be a lovely hostess gift. Kids can make them, too.

The secret for making really good truffles is using the best quality chocolate you can. You can use chocolate chips, but get good ones.

They are very soft, and melt quickly when handled. When rolling them out, I prefer to wear plastic gloves. Make them without gloves, and you will understand why.

At candy making stores, get small papers cups and small boxes or tins for wrapping up your truffles.

 

 

Chocolate Truffles

1/3 c. Whipping cream

6 T. butter, cut into small pieces

2 c. chocolate chips- or 12 oz. dark chocolate, grated or chopped coarsely

Unsweetened cocoa

Heat cream to boiling in small saucepan. Stir in butter and cook until melted. Remove from heat and stir in chocolate until melted. Place in shallow bowl and chill until firm, at least a couple of hours. Roll mixture into 1-inch balls and roll in cocoa. Sometimes the mixture is quite firm and hard to roll into perfectly smooth balls. You can roll them out as smooth as you can, roll in cocoa and then roll again to smooth out. You might want to give them another roll in the cocoa after that.  Makes about 30.

Homemade Popcorn Balls

Homemade Popcorn Balls

I have fond memories of eating popcorn balls when I was a kid. One memory was during the summer. An amusement park near my home was famous for their popcorn balls. Every time we went there, we would end the day with popcorn balls.

The other memory was making our own, around Halloween. They seem to be a part of more than a few Halloween parties when I was younger.

I don’t make them often, but popcorn balls are always a special treat for friends and family. This recipe is pretty easy. Kids, supervised, could help make them. You just have to make sure the mix cools down enough before you let them form the popcorn into balls.

I am a bit of a purist and enjoy them plain, but you can add Halloween themed candies to the mix, to dress them  up for a party. Candy corn or black and orange M&M’s would both work.

The recipe calls for corn syrup. If you don’t want to use corn syrup, my recipe for a corn syrup substitute, (sugar syrup) is listed below.

 

Homemade Popcorn Balls

9 c. popped popcorn
1 c. sugar
1 T. butter
1 T. vanilla
1 c. corn syrup*

Place popcorn in large bowl and set aside. Combine sugar, butter, vanilla and corn syrup in a saucepan. Heat and boil until thick, about 4 minutes. Pour over popcorn. Stir until well coated. Let cool until safe enough to handle. With buttered hands form mixture into balls. Store wrapped tightly in plastic wrap until ready to eat. Best eaten within a few days of making. Makes about 8.

*If you don’t have corn syrup- or don’t want to use it here is a way to make a substitute for it.

 

Sugar Syrup- corn syrup substitute

3  cups granulated sugar

1 cup Water

1/2  tsp. Cream of Tartar

1/4 t. salt

Combine ingredients in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil and cover the pot. Reduce to a simmer and cook covered for 5 minutes. Uncover and cook to soft-ball stage. Stir frequently.

Soft ball stage occurs at 235-245 degrees. This stage can be determined by dropping a spoonful of hot syrup into a bowl of very cold water. In the water, use your fingers to gather the cooled syrup into a ball. If it has reached soft-ball stage, the syrup easily forms a ball while in the cold water, but flattens once removed from the water.

Remove from heat. Cool and store at room temperature. It will keep well for a month or two.

Spooky Candy Spiders

Candy Spider

This is the only kind of spider I want in my house. If you are looking for a quick spooky decoration/treat idea, you might want to make some candy spiders. These are about the size of a tarantula. Super simple and kids can make them, too. You only need a few ingredients. The body is made from marshmallows, the legs are chow mein noodles and the eyes are small candies. I used melting chocolate, but you can use any kind of chocolate you like.

 

To start, melt some chocolate. Dip the chow mein noodles in the chocolate and tap gently to remove excess. I leave one end un-dipped to make it easier to stick in the marshmallow later. Allow to harden up before going to the next step. I set them on a flexible cutting board, but wax paper is good, too. You have to peel them off later, a flexible surface is best. You’ll need 8 for each spider- so be sure to make enough. Allow for breakage.  Set a marshmallow flat side down and poke 4 holes in each side, 8 total. I used a bamboo skewer. Stick a noodle “leg” in each hole. Spoon chocolate over the marshmallow until coated. Whatever drips off can be re-melted and used again. While the chocolate is still soft, press 2 candy eyes into place. Hold them for a minute to be sure they are secure. Now, you can decorate cakes with them, use them on a dessert tray- or just eat them.

Chow mein noodle legs

Chow mein noodle legs

Insert legs into marshmallow

Insert legs into marshmallow

Spoon chocolate over the marshmallow to cover it.

Spoon chocolate over the marshmallow to cover it.

Homemade Caramel Apples

Caramel Apple

I did a program with kids earlier this week and we made these caramel apples. The kids loved them and I wanted to share the recipe. Making caramel apples is a wonderful childhood memory for me. Every Autumn, we would make a batch.

We used those little store bought caramels. I was often the one tasked with unwrapping them. I can remember unwrapping one after the other.

I wanted to make my own caramel, so that is what I did with the kids. It is so much better than the store bought version.

Caramel is not that hard to make. You do need to keep an eye on it. Stir constantly. Just a hint, be sure your candy thermometer is really secure. Mine was a little slippy on the pan I was using. At one point the thermometer slid into the caramel. Not what you want to have happen!!!

Once dipped in the caramel, you can dip the bottom of the apples in nuts, pumpkin seeds, sprinkles, cereal, or even popcorn.

Homemade Caramel Apples

1/2 c. butter, cut in cubes

2 c. packed brown sugar

1 c. corn syrup

pinch of salt

1 can sweetened condensed milk

2 t. vanilla

8-12 apples

chopped nuts, pumpkin seeds, cereal, sprinkles, popcorn for dipping the bottoms of the caramel apples, optional

 

In heavy saucepan combine the butter, sugar, syrup and salt. Bring mixture to a boil, stirring constantly. This will take about 10 minutes. Add milk and bring mixture up to 248 degrees. Remove from heat. Stir in vanilla. Place a Popsicle stick, skewer or chopstick down the center of each apple. Dip apples in the caramel, allowing excess to drip off- or not. Dip bottoms of apples into nuts, seeds or whatever ingredient you picked. Place on wax paper and allow to set up. If you don’t want to dip the bottoms in anything, place the dipped apples on lightly buttered wax paper. Cool before serving. Makes 8-12 caramel apples.

Note: You could also use pears in the recipe.

The kids dipped their apples in cereal.

 

Marshmallows

Freshly rolled marshmallows

Homemade marshmallows were a big hit in cooking camp. The kids were fascinated that this little bowl of ingredients would whip up so light and creamy- and sticky. I think that was part of the fun.

They all took turns holding the mixer. It does take 15 minutes of mixing to get the result you want. Use a stand mixer, if you can.

We made classic vanilla marshmallows today, but you can add different flavors and even colors, if you like. How fun to enjoy a S’mores made with homemade marshmallows.

As promised, here is the recipe for making marshmallows. I’ve used this recipe for ages. I like that it is super easy, and still gives you quality marshmallows. I’ve seen more complicated versions- but why make life harder than it already is?

 

Marshmallows

1/2 c. cornstarch

1/2 c. powdered sugar

small amount of butter

2 envelopes unflavored gelatin, or 6 sheets of gelatin*

1/2 c. granulated sugar

1/3 c. water

2/3 c. corn syrup

1/2 t. vanilla

Combine cornstarch and powdered sugar in a small bowl. Butter an 8x8x2 inch-baking pan. Sprinkle with some of the cornstarch mixture. Reserve the rest of the mixture for use later on. Combine the gelatin, granulated sugar and water in a small saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly until gelatin is dissolved.** Pour gelatin mixture into a large bowl, adding the corn syrup and vanilla. Beat with an electric mixer on high speed for 15 minutes. Be precise on the timing. The mixture will be thick and fluffy, marshmallow cream, actually. Pour mixture into the prepared pan, spread evenly and refrigerate overnight. The next day, sift some of the reserved cornstarch mixture over the marshmallows. Sprinkle some more of the coating mixture on a work surface and turn the marshmallow out onto the prepared surface. Cut the marshmallows into 1-inch squares, coating as you go. The marshmallows are very sticky until completely coated. Allow to dry on a rack. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks. Makes about 4 dozen candies.

You can swap out flavorings- using maybe mint or lemon in place of the vanilla. You can also add a few drops of food coloring, if you like. Oh, and when you are at the rolling the pieces around in the cornstarch and powdered sugar stage of the process- don’t wear black. You’ll thank me later for that.

* Note: 3 sheets of sheet gelatin= one packet (1 tablespoon) of powdered gelatin.

** Note: If you are using sheet gelatin place it in the pan with COLD water and stir until dissolved. Then add the sugar and just cook, over medium-low heat until just warm, stirring often. Don’t let the mixture get too hot or the gelatin will not work.

Dissolve gelatin in water

Dissolve gelatin in water

Cook with water and sugar until warm

Cook with water and sugar until warm

 

 

 

 

 

 

Combine with remaining ingredients in mixer

Combine with remaining ingredients in mixer

Mixture after 15 minutes of whippig

Mixture after 15 minutes of whipping

Spread in prepared pan and chill

Spread in prepared pan and chill

Cut into squares

Cut into squares

 

 

 

 

Roll in cornstarch/powdered sugar mixture

Roll in cornstarch/powdered sugar mixture

 

 

 

Cherry Bombs

Cherry Bombs

These little treats make a great addition to your 4th of July party. They are simple to make, with only three ingredients.  You can make them in no time at all. It is a fun treat for kids to make, too.

Think of the cherry bombs as a type of candy. A simple, sweet treat that can be served just as they are. They can also be used to top a cake or other dessert. You can even garnish a cocktail with them. I did the same thing with strawberries, but “strawberry bombs” did not have the same ring to it.

 

To make the cherry bombs, you will need cherries, white chocolate and blue sugar. If you don’t have blue sugar, you can put granulated sugar in a bag, add a few drops of blue food coloring, seal the bag and shake it up. The sugar will turn blue.

Wash and dry off some large, sweet cherries. Melt white chocolate, stirring until smooth. Dip the cherries in the white chocolate, then the blue sugar. Place on wax paper to firm up. Store in fridge.