It’s Brownie Day! A day we can all stop and celebrate brownies!
To celebrate, we’ve put together a roundup of our favorite brownie recipes and added some extra learning tips from our in-house experts. Keep reading for some fun, educational, and delicious cooking ideas you can do with your kiddos!
Brownie Box Tips from a HOMER VIP!
First up, one of our amazing HOMER VIPs, Allie Wloka, was kind enough to give us her tips for taking the beloved box mix to the next level. In her words, “when it comes to baking, less is best!” We agree! It’s not like we’re on the Great British Bake Off — although, kids can be harsh judges when it comes to food!
- Open the box, and let the fun begin! (I personally prefer the Betty Crocker brand, you can use whichever one you like most.)
- Add my (not-so) secret ingredient: semi-sweet chocolate chips! Then add the eggs, water, and oil, and mix it all together.
- Avoid using non-stick spray to grease the baking pan. Real butter gives the brownies a saltier taste, making them more even more delicious!
- I turn on the oven light and sit with my daughter Victoria and watch the oven until the brownies are done.
- Once the brownies are cooked and cooled, we cut them up and serve them with some yummy vanilla ice cream.
You can check out the HOMER VIP highlight on our Instagram to see Allie making these brownies with her kiddo.
Brownies for Everyone!
Everyone should be able to enjoy a good brownie, especially on Brownie Day! If you’re limiting your child’s sugar intake (and increasing their veggie intake), avoiding certain allergens, getting ready for the holidays, or just want to make super easy brownies, we’ve got some recipes for you!
Add a hidden health factor
This recipe, from Cooking for Kiwi & Bean, makes deliciously dense, creamy and fudgy brownies that are not only vegan and gluten-free, but that are packed with sweet potato, black beans, coconut oil and maple syrup. Don’t tell your kids what’s inside and watch as these brownies disappear off the table!
Avoiding Egg, Milk, Gluten, and Peanuts
If someone in your family has these common allergies it can be hard to find a delicious brownie recipe that uses ingredients you have on hand. This simple, but delicious, recipe from Sheila Ray at Cupcake Love makes decadent vegan, gluten-free and nut-free brownies. Now everyone can enjoy that brownie goodness!
Add some Holiday Cheer
Make your brownies the center of your holiday dessert table by adding some extra holiday cheer! Try these simple and easy tips from The Mama Notes on how to successfully make your brownies have a festive peppermint taste.
That’s right, this brownie recipe from Sugarhero contains only two ingredients — the trusty box mix and canned pumpkin! And as a bonus, these delicious brownies get better with time, so you can make them ahead of time and leave then in an airtight container at room temperature.
Make your bake time, learning time
Once you’ve chosen your recipe, it’s time to get cooking! Cooking is also a great time for learning, so we asked our experts for ways to sneak in some learning into your bake time. Keep reading for their age-specific tips!
Age: 18-24 Months
At this age, activities that trigger the senses of touch, smell, taste, sight and hearing are crucial to your child’s brain development. You can create a great sensory experiences in these simple ways:
- Let them play in the kitchen. Let your child play with and explore kitchen items like pots, pans, and whisks while you bake.
- Mixing the batter. Give them a little bit of flour and water to mix while you mix the “real’ batter.
- Don’t forget washing up! You’re toddler will love getting their hands a little wet!
Age: 2-3 Years
Inviting your 2-3 year old into the kitchen is a lot of fun! This is a great age to start building gross motor skills and vocabulary. Here are our tips for getting kids this age safely involved in the baking process:
- Get them to help pour ingredients. For example, your child could pour pre-measured sugar into the mixing bowl. You know what they are capable of, so you might want to start by putting a small amount of sugar into a toddler-sized container for them. As they get bigger, you can increase the amount of sugar they pour and the type of container they use.
- Get them to stir the batter. In this case, it is best if you pre-mix a smaller amount of the batter so it is easier for them to stir.
- Talk while you cook! While you work, talk about what you are doing. This interaction is great for expanding your child’s vocabulary and will help them get familiar with cooking terms.
- Make it a sensory experience. As you talk through what you are doing, comment on the things you are noticing with your senses. For example, phrases like, “This sugar pours so quickly,“ “this batter is lumpy, but we’ll stir it to make it smooth,” and “this soft butter is so easy to slice” and “mmm, these brownies smell delicious” help your child pay more attention to their own senses.
- Enjoy the brownie! Enjoying the brownie and talking about the taste and texture builds your child’s expressive and receptive language — and it increases their sense of pride when you talk about how special the brownies are that THEY helped to bake.
Age: 4-5 Years
Your 4-5 year old is likely to be an enthusiastic helper in the kitchen. At this age, cooking offer the perfect opportunity to use and build math skills, memory, and vocabulary in a fun and practical way. Here are some simple ways to practice these skills while cooking.
- Get your child to help while you measure. Letting them hold the measuring cup or teaspoon while you measure out an ingredient can help them realize that math and measuring are useful parts of their lives.
- Have your child follow sequences. This sounds daunting, but it is simply getting them to follow simple directions like, “Go to the fridge, get the butter stick, and bring it to the counter.” By completing this simple flow of tasks, young children understand the importance of particular sequences, and this understanding helps them to build memory skills.
- Talk about your cooking! Cooking together offers wonderful opportunities to use language in many rich and engaging ways. You can compare brownies to other pastries or talk about how long it takes from starting the recipe to pulling the treats out of the oven. You can also talk about the sensory experiences of cooking, like what makes the brownies so delicious (Pro Tip: the answer isn’t sugar, it’s love).
- Talk about your lives. Cooking together also gives you the chance to talk more broadly with your child. It’s a great time to ask what your child is doing in school or what they are doing with friends.
Age: 5+ Years
Children five years old and older can join in almost all the aspects of baking brownies. Here are some tips for getting them involved:
- Write out an ingredients list. If you have time, write out the ingredients and the amounts you need on a sheet of paper. Your child can count the number of ingredients needed, maybe even read some of the items on the list, and then help you gather what you need.
- Practice some math. Once you have all the ingredients ready, your child can help measure ingredients, and with your help, decide if you have the right amount of sugar in the measuring cup.
- Let your child get hands on! They can stir, grease the pan, pour the batter and help you set the oven to the correct temperature. Of course, anything involving heat should stay in grown-up hands!
- Serve the brownies. Once they brownies are cooked and cooled, your child can help slice them, put them on plates, and then serve them to happy eaters. The sense of accomplishment, empowerment, and that feeling of “I did it!” makes the brownies even tastier!