Chocolate-Banana-Nut Popsicles

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Roast the bananas for these novel frozen treats in the morning, and you’ll have Popsicles ready for a mid-day snack!

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Ingredients:

  • 4 bananas, unpeeled
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2 cups almond milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  1. Wrap the bananas individually in foil and bake at 400 degrees F for 25 minutes. Let cool slightly, then peel and mash. Combine in a bowl with the brown sugar.
  2. Transfer the banana mixture to a blender, along with the remaining ingredients. Process until smooth.
  3. Divide among Popsicle molds and freeze at least 4 hours, or until solid.

Yummy Chocolate Play Dough

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Today Veronika opened up her first bake shop…with chocolate play dough that is! This no-cook recipe is super simple, and lends itself perfectly to both sensory and imaginative play.

In a bowl, combine 1 cup all-purpose flour, 1/2 cup salt, 1/4 cup cocoa powder, 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, and 1 tablespoon cream of tartar. Slowly stir in 1 cup boiling water.

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Turn the dough out and knead until no longer sticky (you may need to add a little more flour).

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Once the dough was ready, I set up shop for Veronika! A few disposable cake pans, cupcake liners, and old birthday candles made perfect props. She was helping make “cupcakes” in no time.

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Inserting candles was lots of fun. I realized we needed more toppings, so colorful pony beads from the craft bin made perfect “sprinkles”. Veronika loved pushing these into the dough and saying “Squish!”.

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She also just loved transferring the pony beads from one cupcake liner to another.

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Rolling pins and other kitchen tools rounded out our play. I showed Veronika how she could roll portions of the dough really flat.

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This was so all so much fun that big brother Travis wanted to get involved. With him, we made it more about imaginative play. He was a “baker” filling my orders for specific types or shapes of cookies.

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Chances are the kids will play this one for a while!

 

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Erupting Chocolate Ooblek

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Today I made Veronika a new version of ooblek. Wanting to make this one stand out from the crowd, not only did this version feature chocolate, but it could explode! And yes this activity is toddler safe.

As a reminder ooblek is about 2 parts cornstarch to 1 part water. From there, there are so many ways to fancy it up. Unfortunately I messed up the texture of our ooblek from the get-go because I thought I had a full box of cornstarch in the pantry. It turned out I only had less than 1 cup left, and I’d already poured in over 1 cup of water to a plastic tub. So our mixture was on the watery side, not true ooblek.

But that’s okay, because there was more for Veronika to play with here! First, we sprinkled on cocoa powder in addition to the cornstarch. This was purely for the heavenly smell. Yum!

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We also added 2 tablespoons baking soda because we wanted our ooblek to erupt. (Note: Be careful, because the baking soda will offset the now-solid-now-liquid property of ooblek, as it will dissolve in the water).

To make the explosions, add white vinegar to squeeze bottles and squirt in a bit at a time. This is great for exercising those little fingers.

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Veronika almost couldn’t believe it when the first bubbles appeared. I had to help out with lots of the squeezing, but she was transfixed watching the eruptions every time the vinegar hit the baking soda.

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The resulting bubbles are really neat ones, too, almost like honeycomb, but with a quasi-solid texture. They won’t pop until you pop them!

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This made for lots of fun poking and prodding. Veronika was a little hesitant to get her hands messy, but adding a spoon helped her get in there.

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There also was also an added auditory component to the fun, thanks to the hissing sound whenever baking soda mixed with the vinegar.

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In sum, this project made for one happy girl!

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Chocolate Valentine’s Fruit

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For Valentine’s Day this year, I treated the kids (and husband!) to decadent chocolate-dipped fruit. You can make these easy treats with the kids as a project, or without them as a sweet surprise!

Chocolate Banana Bites

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Ingredients:

  • 2 bananas
  • 1 and 1/2 cups non-dairy chocolate chips
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • Shredded coconut
  1. Peel the bananas and cut into 1/2-inch thick slices.
  2. Meanwhile, combine the chocolate chips and canola oil in a bowl; microwave at 30 second intervals until smooth and melted (about 1 and 1/2 minutes total).
  3. Use a fork to dip each banana slice in the chocolate, and then dip into the coconut. Transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Freeze for 6 hours.

Chocolate-Dipped Strawberries

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Ingredients:

  • 1 pint strawberries
  • 1 and 1/2 cups non-dairy chocolate chips
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • White sprinkles
  1. Cut the tops from the strawberries and set aside.
  2. Melt the chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl at 30 second intervals, until smooth (about 1 and 1/2 minutes total). Stir in the canola oil.
  3. Use a skewer or fork to dip each strawberry in the chocolate. Let the excess drip off, then dip into the sprinkles. You can also use red or pink sprinkles, in place of the white!
  4. Transfer to a plate lined with parchment paper to dry.

Which version did your little Valentine’s like best? Please share in the comments!

 

 

Chocolate Crackles

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These sweet small treats are great if your kids need an afternoon pick-me-up: sugary enough to taste decadent, but with a few “good for you” ingredients thrown in.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups rice-crisp cereal
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 3/4 cup shredded coconut
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  1. Combine all the ingredients except the coconut oil in a large bowl.
  2. Melt the coconut oil and drizzle over the dry ingredients, then mix well.
  3. Divide the mixture evenly among 30 mini muffin cups (alternatively, just press into mini cupcake liners and place on a tray). Refrigerate for 30 minutes to set.

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Chocolate-Eating Game

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Travis learned about this hilarious game from his latest Highlights magazine, traditionally played at birthdays in Germany. It sounded so silly and fun we had to give it a try just for an after-school snack!

If you’re playing with multiple players, you’ll need a dice. Anyone who rolls a 6 quickly puts on a hat, mittens, and scarf, and tries to unwrap a chocolate bar with a knife and fork. The next player to roll a 6 takes that first person’s turn, and if the bar is unwrapped, then whoever rolls a 6 now gets to eat the chocolate with a knife and fork. Silly, right?

Because it was just me and Travis, we took turns donning all the winter gear and working at the wrapper with the utensils.

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Mommy got us in! Time to fork into our chocolate.

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Whoever manages to eat the most chocolate wins, of course! I can see this being just delicious to play with a batch of kids at a party.

Magic Chocolate Bar

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What’s better than one chocolate bar? One you get to eat twice!

Okay, perhaps not really, but this neat puzzle will have your child thinking hard about shapes and how they fit together. We printed out a chocolate bar template, and cut into 5 pieces along the dotted lines.

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I told Travis he was going to “eat” the smallest piece, which gets removed from the rectangle. Now the challenge is to fit the remaining 4 pieces back into a whole rectangle. It was a matter of turning the pieces…

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…puzzling…

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… and tada!

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As a fun reward, we cut up a real chocolate bar in the same way for a little after-school treat!

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Chocolate Empanadas

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Just in time for Cinco de Mayo, here’s a messy flour-filled project that will have your little chef loving time in the kitchen!

Ingredients:

For the dough:

  • 2 and 1/4 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 8 tablespoons Earth Balance butter
  • 1 Ener-G egg
  • 1/2 cup milk

For the filling:

  • Chocolate-hazelnut butter, warmed*
  1. To prepare the dough, combine the flour, salt, and cocoa powder in a large bowl.Empanada (1)
  2. Add the butter in small pieces, and mix into the four mixture with your fingers until it looks like cornmeal. I was so proud of my son for getting his hands right in there!Empanada (2)
  3. Add the Ener-G egg and milk, stirring until a soft dough forms. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour.
  4. Divide the dough into 16 portions, and roll into balls.Empanada (3)
  5. Working with one portion at a time (cover the remaining dough with plastic wrap), roll out into a 6-inch circle. Spoon about 1 tablespoon of the chocolate hazelnut butter into the center. Rub water gently around the edges of the dough with water and fold in half, pressing to seal. Transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, and repeat with the remaining dough. Here’s my son having a blast with his play portion as I worked!Empanada (4)
  6. Use a fork to crimp the edges of the empanadas, then bake at 400 degrees F for 20 minutes.Empanada (5)

These are best served warm!

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*For the best results, order a vegan Nutella from a retailer like Vegan Essentials. I didn’t have time for an online order, but chocolate hazelnut spread from Justin’s peanut butter company (widely available) worked in a pinch.

Colorful Confetti Eggs

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We love creating our monthly craft from High Five magazine… so I was a bit dismayed when we saw that this month’s project was decidedly not vegan. Cascarones are confetti-filled eggs, traditionally made in Mexico during Easter and crushed over a friend’s head as a surprise. Although it’s easy to paint or dye wooden eggs for vegan kids, how were we going to make a vegan egg that could crack? With a little advanced planning and some ingenuity, we made it work!

First, I searched online for hollow vegan chocolate eggs, and was rewarded with Peek-a-Boos from No Whey Chocolates. This actually have a little white chocolate chick inside, but still plenty of room for confetti!

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It took a few tries before we learned how much pressure was needed to crack the eggs with a butter knife, but we got a small hole in a few of them. Don’t make the hole right at the apex of the oval, or the chocolate egg will cleave in half.

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Travis of course needed to do a taste test at this point! I recommend setting aside a few of the eggs for eating, since the ones you’re about to use for the rest of the project won’t remain edible.

Next up we painted our eggs. Since we were painting on chocolate, we used food coloring.

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Roll a piece of paper into a funnel, and insert into the opening you’ve made in each egg. Carefully pour in confetti through the funnel.

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Finally, we glued a colored piece of tissue paper (pastel, in keeping with the Easter theme!) over the hole we’d made in each egg. Set aside to dry.

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Now of course you won’t really want to crush these over a friend’s head – unless you enjoy shampooing chocolate out of your hair!

Instead, I set up a large surface area covered with newspaper and gave Travis a mallet and let him go to town crushing the eggs. Perhaps they weren’t exactly cascarones, but I’m glad we were able to capture the spirit of the craft!

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We’ll be hopping toward Easter with a few other crafts this week, so stay tuned!

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Whoopie Pies

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This is the most decadent dessert I’ve cooked up in a while, but sometimes you just need a super-chocolatey treat. This recipe is made possible thanks to vegan marshmallow crème!

Ingredients:

For the cakes:

  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 cup Earth Balance butter, softened
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 Ener-G egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup vegan buttermilk*

For the filling:

  • 6 tablespoons Earth Balance butter, softened
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 7 ounces Ricemellow Crème
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 cup mini non-dairy chocolate chips
  1. To prepare the cakes, combine the flour, cocoa, and baking soda in a large bowl; set aside.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the butter and sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Add the Ener-G egg and vanilla; beat until combined. Alternate adding the flour mixture and the buttermilk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture, and beating well after each addition.
  3. Drop the dough by heaping tablespooons on greased baking sheets, 6 cookies per sheet. Bake at 350 degrees F for 15 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely.Whoopie Pie (1)
  4. To make the filling, beat together the butter, powdered sugar, ricemellow, vanilla, and cocoa; beat until smooth.Whoopie Pie (2)
  5. Spread 1 to 2 tablespoons filling on top of half of the cookies; top with the remaining cookies.
  6. Place the chocolate chips in a bowl, and roll the sides of the whoopie pies in the chips. Delish!

* To prepare the buttermilk, pour 1 tablespoon lemon juice into a measuring cup. Fill with plain unsweetened non-dairy milk to equal 1 cup and let stand for 5 minutes.

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