Friday, September 2, 2011

Imagination Cupcakes

My sister Wilma, an extraordinary grandmother, who has lived through many a power outage, came up with this idea that allows children to create their own cake. Since we had just come through hurricane Irene, I thought it would be a great way to get rid of all those long-shelf-life foods we purchased before the storm. Fortunately for us, all we lost was internet and cable TV, so we just needed entertainment. We scanned the pantry and found a yellow cake mix, cooking oil, cocoa, some already prepared pudding cups, mini chocolate chips, coconut, and powdered sugar. In the frig we found blueberries, eggs, butter, and cream cheese. The Princess pulled out the step stool; we turned on our imaginations and got started.

We followed the directions on the cake mix box and my assistant pastry chef used the wire whip to mix the basic batter then lined the cupcake pans—next came the fun part. Since the recipe would make 24 cupcakes, we figured out the math and made six of each kind. We divided the batter into four small bowls.

In the 1st, we added a handful of blueberries, mixed them and poured them into six cups.

In the 2nd, we added cocoa and mini chocolate chips and poured them into six more cups.

In the 3rd, we mixed in cocoa, put a heaping tablespoon of batter into each cup, and then added a spoon of butterscotch pudding before adding another spoon of the batter. Not only were those filled, but they erupted like little volcanoes in the oven!

In the 4th bowl, we added 2 tablespoons of flaked coconut, poured each cup half full of the batter then put in a spoon of lemon pudding and covered it with the rest of the batter. They also erupted. We put all of them into a preheated oven at 350 degrees and baked them until they sprung back when touched lightly.

Since our objective was to use things we had on hand, we made cream cheese icing but you could use canned icing. We topped off the blueberry with plain icing marked with a single blueberry. To both the chocolate cupcakes we added cocoa. Those with chocolate chip we topped with more chips and the others we iced then put just a tiny bit of chocolate syrup coming out of the volcano.

Finally the lemon ones were covered with plain cream cheese icing then topped with coconut. If we had fresh lemon, a tiny bit of lemon zest would have been a good way to tell what was inside, but that didn't keep it from being the most popular cupcake.

Your imagination can take you a long way and cooking with children can give you lots of ideas. Look in your cupboard and see what you can do with those ingredients before their expiration date comes around. Sometimes we just need a little push to see what we can do with leftovers.

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