Do you remember the Easy Bake Oven? You may even have an Easy Bake now, as they’ve been revived. One of the clinchers for the Easy Bake is the simple mix that allows a child to pour, stir, and create all on her own, and bake…well…less than savory delicacies. (Another downer, in addition to the finished product, is the fact that these refill mixes don’t come cheap.) Well, here’s a baking experience that’s just as easy, but a bit more authentic, and whole lot more palatable.
Now, before I get comments about nutrition and sugar, let me make the disclaimer that I am not advocating feeding these treats to your children for breakfast. I’m also not suggesting you make them on a regular basis. And if your nutritional guidelines don’t allow for a few crazy treats now and then, I admire your discipline, but this recipe may not be for you. Ahh. Now that my conscience is clear,here’s the basic recipe:
Cake Mix Cookies
1 cake mix
1/2 cup oil
1 cup mix-ins, optional
(In the above picture I used a Yellow Cake Mix with Reese’s Pieces, mostly because the candies had been mocking me from the pantry all day and baking them into cookies was the only way I could think of to keep from eating them by the handful.)
That’s it! So simple! Just mix, scoop onto cookie sheets, and bake at 350 for about 10-12 minutes.
I love this recipe because many children can mix them all on their own! My five year-old niece did just that this weekend as she asked for a baking project while visiting at my house. I loved seeing the excitement in her face when she presented my brother with the cookies and told him she made them all by herself! (You may need to supervise with an electric mixer if mixing by hand is too arduous, and, of course, you need to oversee the hot oven part of the endeavor.)
I also love this recipe for the versatility! Brainstorm with your children on the many ways they could use this simple combination. Allow them to create and experiment, even when you think the combination may not sound so appetizing! Learning from mistakes and adapting is critical in cooking and in life! I’m personally a bit partial to the Devils Food with chocolate chips, though you might try these combinations too:
- Yellow with Chocolate Chips
- Yellow rolled in Cinnamon and Sugar (a la Snickerdoodles)
- Devils Food with Cream Cheese frosting sandwiching two cookies together like Oreos
- White with Craisins and White Chocolate Chips
- Anything with M&Ms!
- Spice Cake with Nuts, Raisins, and a little Oatmeal
- You could even set up a cookie creation center with mix-ins and let your children custom design each cookie!
While I generally advocate cooking from scratch, using a simplified recipe like this is a great way to give a child more independence and ownership in the cooking process, building self-esteem. It also helps the child to learn a step-by-step process, when the steps have been minimized. The versatility of this particular recipe is also fantastic for building culinary creativity and confidence in experimentation (a key part of the scientific process). The act of cooking in general is an incredibly rich experience. Read more about how it benefits children here.
Lastly, I like this recipe because there’s always that day when you need a last minute dessert for your impromptu picnic; or the realization that you have made a commitment to bring a baked treat somewhere in about 20 minutes coinciding with the realization that you have no flour in your house (both based on true stories).
*Speaking of stories, you could tie this in to a literacy experience by reading the book, Mmm, Cookies! by Robert Munsch.
Enjoy some easy baking together with your little ones!