Hot Cocoa Cupcakes


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Our final recipe from the Fireside Feast Raddish Kit was dessert of course – cupcakes that look like a little mug of hot cocoa! This was the perfect baking activity on a cold winter Sunday, with Travis an eager participant.

He’s becoming familiar now with Raddish’s recipe cards, took one look, and exclaimed, “Whoa, so many ingredients!” Plus he noticed the recipe had 12 steps. So let’s get started. Meanwhile mama continues to love the way that the easy pictures help even non-readers dictate what happens in the recipe.

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First, we combined the dry ingredients in a bowl: 3/4 cup flour, 1/2 cup cocoa powder, 3/4 teaspoon baking powder, 3/4 teaspoon baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon salt. The emphasis for this recipe was on measuring dry ingredients (with those excellent dry measuring cups he received), so I made sure Travis was the one to measure, woe be it to the mess.

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Teach your child to scoop a large amount so it heaps over the top, then level with a finger or butter knife.

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Next, we mixed wet ingredients in a second bowl: 1 Ener-G egg, 1 cup sugar, 1/4 cup canola oil, 1 cup non-dairy milk (we used unsweetened coconut milk) and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until smooth.

I showed Travis how to line muffin cups with paper liners – he loved it!

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We poured the batter into a liquid measuring cup, which was a fantastic trick. This way we could be sure each muffin cup contained 1/4 cup of the batter.

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Bake at 350 degrees F for 20 minutes – a wooden pick inserted in the centers should come out clean.

While the cupcakes cook, make the frosting. Raddish’s suggested alternative for vegan diets (which they always provide, wow!), is to make your favorite vegan buttercream frosting instead, but we hewed closer to the original recipe, and subbed in ricemellow creme for a jar of Marshmallow Fluff. This didn’t make the best frosting, as it turns out, so you may want to skip this bit and make your best buttercream right now!

But in our stand mixer, we combined 3/4 cup softened Earth Balance butter, 1/2 cup powdered sugar, and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Beat until creamy. Add 7 ounces of the ricemellow creme and 2 tablespoons additional milk. Beat until smooth.

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Smooth the frosting onto the cupcakes with a butter knife.

We topped each with 5 mini Dandies marshmallows. The recipe suggested mini candy canes on the sides, as mug “handles.” If you don’t have minis, just break the hook off a large candy cane, and use those instead.

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For additional learning, the recipe card also pointed out what each ingredient in the recipe does, in terms of baking chemistry – fat for fluffiness, flour for structure etc. Here we are checking to make sure the leaveners in the recipe are doing their job!

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There were also fun facts about hot cocoa’s history and current state around the world. We learned that in Spain and Italy, for instance, hot cocoa includes cornstarch, and is more like a chocolate pudding! And now he’s a Fireside Feast graduate:

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Flashlight Show

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Your two-month-old is still developing his or her eyesight, and still loves sharp contrast. A great way to play up this factor is to shine a flashlight after dark! This is a cozy game to play at bedtime, or as you wind down for the evening.

I sat with Veronika in her room, turned out the light, and started by shining a flashlight on different parts of her body. Those adorable feet…

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…and hands.

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Next I shined the light on various toys or objects around the room, naming them as I did so. This makes the game great not just for strengthening eyesight, but also for language development.

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Because big brother Travis loves to take the occasional bath-by-flashlight, we extended the game to bathtime. Lots of great vocab in here, including the shower curtain…

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…and the little whale who protects our spout.

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You can also play this game while your baby lies in the crib, and shine the flashlight through a toy or other object held up against the wall. You’ll get great shadows – what a show!

Jellyfish Lantern

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It’s getting hard to impress Travis with crafts these days; let’s be honest, we’ve done a lot of them! It seemed like time for new materials – hence this awesome paper lantern jellyfish. It is by far the coolest jellyfish we’ve made together, and we’ve done a few in the past.

Travis remembered seeing paper lanterns from a summer festival back in August, and was so excited when I announced I had one for our craft. He needed to play with it first, of course!

jellyfish lantern (1)Next we needed crepe paper for the tentacles… It wasn’t long before we had crepe paper madness in the house, too!

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I was happy to see him have so much fun, while I made sure to save enough pieces of equal length to be the tentacles.

Next I showed him how we could change the look of the crepe paper by wrapping around a finger. This gave the tentacles great texture!

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Glue the tentacles around the bottom rim of the lantern. Add a final piece of crepe paper in a circle around the rim, to hide all the edges. Let dry.

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We also cut a few circles from additional crepe paper to be spots on the jellyfish. So pretty!

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Travis couldn’t wait for it to dry, after which the jellyfish was instantly a prop in his games.

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Once he lets go, we’ll hang it from the ceiling for a beautiful ocean corner of his bedroom.

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Fluffy-Paint Collage

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We tend to think of sensory art projects as toddler games, but sometimes, even four-year-olds just need to get messy! Queue this shaving cream paint project, a great suggestion from High Five magazine, that absolutely delighted Travis.

To make our fluffy paint mixture, we first mixed 1/2 cup white glue with 1/2 cup shaving cream (thanks Daddy!) in a bowl.

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Stir until combined. Divide the glue into cups (as many different ones as you have colors). Add drops of food coloring, and stir until mixed.

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Travis loves to play mixologist like this!

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We smeared our puffy paint over two thick pieces of watercolor paper (card stock would work, too). Let dry completely.

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Travis loved this step so much he requested extra cups of shaving cream to stir and tint with color. I was happy to oblige!

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Later in the afternoon, it was time for some fine motor skills. First, we had to check out how the dried paint felt. Very puffy!

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We cut the puffy pictures into pieces.

fluffy paint (10)Travis was proud to cut his paper any which way, and I made a few more exact shapes – circles, squares, triangles etc.

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Choose a piece of colored construction paper for a background, and glue down the pieces with clear glue for a creative collage. Older children may want to be very deliberate, and design flowers or other motifs. Travis just loved making piles of clear glue!

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Once again, he loved this step so much that when we were done, he asked for extra paper to cut up and glue down. I loved seeing him so busy!