If you are going for the mother-of-the-year award, we highly recommend having this ridiculously seductive collection of sweet treat recipes in the kitchen library. All you have to do is ask the kids to flip through the pages, point to something they like (might be hard for them to narrow it down), and you will not believe the look of adoration on their faces when you agree to make it. Author Jill O’Connor, a seasoned food stylist from all the biggie magazines (House Beautiful, Food & Wine, Bon Appetit) knows how important it is to appeal to eyeballs first, stomachs second. Here are a few of the ones we liked best.
Adapted from Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey Treats for Kids by Jill O’Connor
Sunday breakfast is a fun meal for kids to help prepare. The mood is bright and everyone is relaxed and ready to pitch in. These sweet, fragrant pancakes are a festive choice, piled high with fresh strawberries and sliced bananas and smothered in gooey, chocolaty Nutella or buttery brown sugar syrup. The kids can help mash the banana and measure out the simple ingredients for the batter before an adult cooks the pancakes on the hot griddle. Although perfect for a leisurely weekend breakfast, they really are a snap to prepare and (when all the planets are properly aligned) can even be whipped up on a weekday morning. Make sure your bananas are very ripe – really overripe – for the sweetest, most tender pancakes.
There is nothing easier or more cozily down-home to serve after dinner than a homemade fruit crumble warm from the oven. It isn’t fussy or fancy, but this old-fashioned dessert will be welcome on any occasion. I love the sweet-tart combination of blackberries and apples. And the crumble – made with a healthful dose of oatmeal, a little whole wheat flour, and the crunch of raw sugar – makes for a buttery, sweetly nutty-tasting, crisp topping.
These eye-popping beauties just scream “I’m ready for my close-up, Mr. DeMille!” and like your favorite movie star, they are gorgeous and glamorous on the outside, and airy fluff (with no nutritional value) within. Homemade marshmallows are great fun to make, and a wonderful science project to discover what a little sugar, water, and gelatin can create. I like to make my marshmallows big and fat, just right for over-the-top embellishments. Dip or drizzle the marshmallows with melted, brightly colored confectionery coating, sprinkle with shimmering sanding sugar, coat them in jimmies and small candies, or give them funny faces by attaching googly eyes made from royal icing. You can even give your marshmallows the red-carpet treatment by brushing them with Luster Dust – beloved by cake decorators, luster dust is a glittering, shimmering powdered food coloring that comes in little pots like eye shadow. You can leave the marshmallows their natural creamy color, or tint them pale lavender, pink, green, turquoise, or yellow, before cutting them into squares and dolling them up. Decorating homemade marshmallows is a fun birthday party activity, and party guests can take home small cellophane bags of their miniature masterpieces as favors, and as an edible reminder of their artistic and creative skill.