A friend once called me a “serial hobbyist” and I have to say, it is the only label anyone has ever tried to pin on me that actually felt accurate. I mention this because, a couple summers ago, my hobby became cupcakes. To be clear, when I find a new interest, I tend to go deep (see my Instagram account to catch my latest dalliance: pancakes rendered in the likeness of presidential candidates Hilary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and Donald Trump). The source of my inspiration at the time was a book called "Hello, Cupcake!" If you like baking with your kids, I highly recommend picking it up. In fact, I highly recommend it to anyone who is pregnant (or soon to become a parent) because guess what? You are about to spend the next 10-15 years baking cupcakes. Again. Again. And again.
My biggest takaway from the book is this: You can make really cute cupcakes with a store bought mix just by jazzing them up with a few artfully placed (and sometimes microwave softened) candies. Admittedly, some of the designs in the book are a bit more complicated (and truth be told I never did figure out how to create animal fur out of piping). But the "recipe" below is a great one to try with your kids because it requires virtually no technical expertise (just a willingness to bring copious amounts of processed sugar into your home). We made these cupcakes right after we planted peas for the first time in our garden, and I think it's safe to say both of my kids thoroughly enjoyed getting their hands dirty.
Here's what you will need:
Oreo cookie pie crust (if you can’t find this you can just use regular Oreos and scrape off the frosting before you crush the cookies)
HOW TO MAKE PEAS IN A POD CUPCAKES
Step 1: Bake the cupcakes following the instructions on the box. Remove to a wire rack and allow them to completely cool.
Step 2: Frost the cupcakes.
Step 3: Crush the Oreo cookie pie crust until it resembles a plate full of dirt, then dip the frosting into your "soil."
Step 4: Warm a piece of green Tangy Taffy in microwave for 5-10 seconds (timing will vary based on your microwave). While the taffy is still warm, mold it with your hands into a leaf shape. This will be your pea pod.
Step 5: Place three green M & Ms inside the pod, then gently close the sides so they peak out like peas.
HOW TO MAKE CANDY CARROT TOPPERS
Step 1: Warm an orange Starbust in the microwave for 5 seconds. While it is still warm, roll it into the shape of a carrot.
Step 2: Using a small paring knife, cut small diagonal grooves in the surface of your carrot, then rub cinnamon over them to make them look like they've been freshly picked from the garden.
Step 3: Stick a toothpick into the thicker end of your carrot and wiggle it around until you've made a small hole for the leaves.
Step 4: Warm a small piece of green Tangy Taffy up in microwave, then break it into three small pieces and roll them into leaves. Place all three into the hole at the end of your carrot to make the leaves.