Cooking with Kids with Help from the Hudson Valley's CIA



Easy instructions for decorating cupcakes with "how-to" video!!

HolidayCupcakes
What better way to spend some quality time with your children this holiday season than having them help you create something beautiful and delicious in the kitchen? Making fondant decorations to top your holiday cupcakes or to simply hang up for the holidays is an excellent opportunity for children to stretch their imaginations and gives them the opportunity to be proud of something they can make.

Chef Kate Cavotti, an instructor at The Culinary Institute of America, has some great ideas about how you can utilize things you already have around the house to make personalized decorations out of basic fondant. A combination of sugar and cornstarch, fondant can be decorated in a number of ways by using stamps, cookie cutters, paint brushes, food color markers, piping gel, food coloring, or food grade glitter.

Watch Chef Kate in action....





Learning about fondants

The first thing you need to do is purchase ready-made fondant (a candy paste) from your local craft store. You can keep it white, or you can easily color fondant by kneading in a few drops of food coloring. Once you color it and cut out the desired shapes, the fondant will need a few hours to dry and harden. If you are making ornaments, be sure to cut the hole for a ribbon before the fondant dries. Chef Cavotti suggests getting the children to help make fondant shapes a day or two before you plan to decorate.

Cookie cutters are not just for cookies anymore. Use them to cut out fondant shapes that are perfect for younger children to decorate with food color markers, colored gels, and food grade glitter.

Introduce the art of stamping

If you are one of many people who are avid stamping crafters, you can easily adapt the stamps to make fondant decorations. Just be sure to clean any ink off them by scrubbing them with a toothbrush in soap and water. Once stamps are rinsed clean, have the children take food color markers and trace the raised part of the figure on each stamp to apply color.

Once the colored shape is stamped onto the fondant and the food coloring is dry, the decorations are ready. You can also let your children continue to color in the figure with the markers or make them appear 3-D by piping on colored gels, or sprinkle food grade glitter onto them. To get the glitter to stick, take an artist's paint brush dipped in water and apply the water to the area you wish covered in glitter. Take another dry brush and apply the glitter by tapping the brush holding glitter over the wet areas.

Ideas for carrot cake - yum!

Chef Cavotti suggests making carrot cake cupcakes with fondant or cream cheese icing as a base for the decorations. Dip the cupcake in a bowl of powdered sugar or shredded coconut to make it look more like snow glistening and place the fondant decoration on top. It's a good idea to stick a toothpick in back of each decoration to insure it will stand up straight.

When working with children, it always helps to be well-prepared. If possible, try to have all the baking equipment put away and the decorating supplies laid out before the youngsters arrive.

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