Snowball Cookies + Snowflake Tart

If baking with your children is on your holiday memory making to-do list, here’s an easy and delicious cookie recipe to try.

Holiday baking with toddlers and young children makes amazing memories but it can quickly turn messy and chaotic. That’s why I like recipes easy enough for them to enjoy making and flexible enough for me not to stress about how it will turn out. These snowball cookies are made with all taste-test friendly ingredients (nothing raw!), take about 30 minutes start to finish and powdered sugar dusting is always so much fun!

I’ve been using this recipe from Delish for years. The trickiest part has always been making sure the balls don’t crumble. So this year I tweaked the recipe by creaming the butter and sugar first to make it easier for little hands to form and roll. Mix on high for 8-10 minutes until the butter and sugar are smooth and fluffy. Then mix in the dry ingredients. You can experiment with different nuts and filling.

After we formed a dozen cookies we had a little left over dough. Penny wanted to try something different so she filled two tart pans about half way and topped with peppermint pieces. Her Peppermint Snowflakes turned out wonderfully ❄️

Let us know if you bake these Snowball Cookies (or snowflake tart)! #junebugbakerslove

Happy holiday baking!!

Xoxo

June Bug Bakers

Baking Strawberry Glazed Donuts

Have you ever baked donuts with your little bakers? If not, you totally should! It’s fun, surprisingly easy and totally satisfies that donut craving!

For this Beginner Baker project we used a recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction. We followed the steps closely but switched out the Greek yogurt for strawberry whole milk yogurt. With a 5 year old and a 2 year old in the kitchen, it took us around 40 minutes to bake and frost the donuts.

Making Donuts with little bakers

P was in the kitchen first and helped me measure and mix the dough. When little brother woke up from his nap he helped make the frosting and added sprinkles. Here are some tips to involve your little baker in making donuts:

5 year+ measure ingredients.
Using color coded measuring cups and spoons can help little bakers more easily identify measuring tools.

2 year + mix ingredients.
Use a whisk for the wet ingredients and switch to a spatula when combining wet and dry ingredients. Careful not to over mix!

3 year + crack the egg.
Any broken pieces of egg shells can easily be scooped out using another broken piece of shell.

5 years + help squeeze the dough into the donut pan.
This is great for small motor skill development. I didn’t get a video of P doing it with me this time but we’re working on a video on how to make piping easier for little hands. This is a great bake to practice with because the donuts end up covered in frosting anyway.

2 years + using toddler safe knives cut the strawberries.

2 years + mix the strawberry purée with powdered sugar.
Start with 1 cup of powdered sugar. Let them add powdered sugar in 1/4 cup increments and watch the consistency change as the puree absorbs the sugar. We added about 2 cups.

3 years + frost the donuts using a brush or dipping into frosting.
I dipped the donuts since I was with both my 2 and 5 yo. If it was just me and my older baker I think she could handle the dipping!

2 year + decorate donuts with sprinkles!

How we baked it

Recipe link: Strawberry Frosted Donuts

Sprinkle Sugar Cookies

If you need a splash of sprinkles in your life, these little cookies will do the trick.

This is my grandma’s classic sugar cookie recipe. We usually use this recipe for cut out cookies. This time we experimented to find the just right size for these sprinkle sugar cookies. In our first batch we used our 1.5 tablespoon cookie dough scoop and left them in balls. This resulted in thick round cookies. For the second batch we made the balls half that size and flattened them slightly before baking. While both are delicious, the smaller cookies make for a perfect little bite. They are also delicious dipped in tea or coffee.

Baking with your little baker

If your little bakers loves sprinkles this is a perfect afternoon baking activity. It’s a Beginner Baker recipe with just a few steps and about 30 minutes to make.

The sprinkles drew my 2 year old into the kitchen. To keep him occupied while prepping and making the dough, I let him do some sensory play with an extra bowl of sprinkles, scooping them from one bowl to another. If you don’t have extra sprinkles, they can play with a little flour. There are a lot of jobs for little bakers with this recipe. Here are some of our favorite:

  • Using the mixer to cream the butter and sugar.
  • Forming cookie dough into balls.
  • Rolling the cookie dough in sprinkles.

how we baked it

Sprinkle sugar cookies

Beginner Baker
2 dozen 3 inch cookies
30 minutes | Hands on: 15-20 minutes Bake time: 8-10 minutes

Ingredients
6 tablespoons butter, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sprinkles, plus more for rolling cookie dough

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper or non stick spray.
  3. Combine flour, baking power and salt in small bowl and set aside.
  4. Cream butter and sugar in large bowl with mixer on high speed for 2-3 minutes until light and fluffy.
  5. Add egg and beat on medium speed until combined.
  6. Add vanilla extract and beat until combined.
  7. On low speed, mix in flour mixture – careful not to over-beat.
  8. Fold in sprinkles.
  9. Scoop dough into tablespoon size balls and roll in sprinkles.
  10. Place dough on cookie sheet and press cookie to flatten slightly.
  11. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown.

If you bake this recipe, let us know!
#junebugbakerslove

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Almond Flour Banana Bread

Bananas don’t usually last long enough in our kitchen to make their way into bread. But somehow this week we ended up with some extra ripe bananas. Looking for a way to use almond flour and less sugar, we found a recipe by Ambitious Kitchen. With one bowl and 10 ingredients this delicious and nutrient packed banana bread is perfect for a beginner baker.

Baking tips by age

2-4 years: With all the ingredients measured out ahead of time, this is an easy recipe to combine and mix ingredients in one bowl. Our little 2 year old baker helped mashing the bananas and topping the bread with chocolate chips. He also enjoyed sneaking away with chocolate chips.

5-7 years: P helped me measure out ingredients. While I read the directions aloud, P lined up dry and wet ingredients in the order they are added to the bowl. She smashed the bananas with a masher, scooped dough into baking pan with a big silicone spoon and topped the bread with chocolate chips.

How we baked it

June Bug Baker Rating: Beginner Baker
Time: 1 hour 20 minutes | Hands-on 20 minutes | Bake 50 mins – 1 hour
Tools: Large bowl, masher, large silicone spoon, spatula, and baking loaf pan.

For recipe head over to Ambitious Kitchen Almond Flour Banana Bread

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Berry Cream Tarts

There’s something insanely exciting to my kids about being able to build their own meal. They light up at any chance to help in the kitchen when it involves assembly. These berry cream tarts fit perfectly into that category. The not-too-sweet cream cheese and mascarpone cream balances the buttery graham cracker crust. Top it with berries and you can have a perfect treat for a (virtual) tea party or summer evening.

Baking tips by age

2-4 years can help:

  • Smash the graham crackers into little pieces using their hands or a toy hammer.
  • Help mix the graham cracker mixture and scoop into the muffin tins.
  • Help cut strawberries with toddler safe kitchen knives.
  • Topping the tarts with cream and fruit.

5-7 years:

  • Smash the graham crackers into little pieces using their hands or a toy hammer.
  • Measure and mix ingredients to make crust, they might use their hands to break up any pieces bigger than a penny.
  • Scoop crust evenly into muffin pan.
  • Cut strawberries with toddler safe kitchen knives.
  • Top tarts with cream and fruit.

How we baked it

Berry Cream Tarts

20 minutes prep | 10 minutes bake + assembly time
Makes about 12 tarts in muffin tin*
Crust adapted from “Magic Cookie Bars” recipe by Samantha Seneviratne

Ingredients

Crust
6 tablespoons of butter, melted and cooled
20 graham crackers, about 2 3/4 cup
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg

Cream Topping
8 oz cream cheese softened
2 oz mascarpone
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Strawberries cut into pieces
Blueberries

Directions

  1. First prepare the crust. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 C).
  2. Spray or butter muffin tin.
  3. Crumble graham crackers by hand or in food processor until only small pieces remain.
  4. Add sugar, baking powder and salt and mix to incorporate.
  5. Add butter and egg.
  6. Mix well until the graham crackers are moist and small clusters begin to form.
  7. Divide into cupcake tin and spread, pressing firmly against the bottom and sides. Form a thin layer of crust around the mold, tarts will rise while baking.
  8. Bake tarts for 10-12 minutes or until set. Cool completely before removing.
  9. While tart crusts are baking make the cream topping and prepare fruit.
  10. Hull and half strawberries and cut into small pieces.
  11. Combine cream cheese and mascarpone in bowl and mix on low with an electric mixer.
  12. Gradually add heavy cream and increase speed to medium until the mixture begins to thicken.
  13. Add the powdered sugar and vanilla and mix until fluffy and whipped.
  14. Once tarts are cooled remove from muffin tin and top with a scoop of cream and berries.

Notes

Store ingredients in the refrigerator to assemble later. Crust will also fit in a 13×9 inch baking pan and make about 15 bars.

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S’more Crispy Treats

This has been the summer of s’mores for us. With more evenings at home backyard campfires have been a reoccurring event. So with plenty of graham crackers, chocolate and marshmallows in the pantry we wanted to make something tasty – minus the campfire.

We started with the amazing salted brown butter rice crispy treats from Smitten Kitchen. Which has easily become my go-to recipe for the most deliciously refined rice crispy treats. Then we added some graham cracker pieces and a Nutella drizzle to top off a satisfying summer treat.

This is a simple recipe that doesn’t take long, however the amount of time you need to spend over the stove (melting marshmallows and chocolate) makes it tricky for younger bakers. Penny and I baked rice crispy treats when she was 3 and it was a little hectic because of the timing with the brown butter. Two years later, with the addition of the graham crackers and chocolate drizzle, she had more to be involved with. She and Jack were able to measured the cereal and smashed the grahams while I melted the butter and marshmallows.

Baking Tips by age

2-4 years: They can help smash the graham crackers and measure out the cereal. To help with the chocolate drizzle they might scoop the Nutella and pour the cream into the sauce pan.

5-7 years: They can help prepare the ingredients by smashing graham crackers and measuring out the cereal. After the butter and marshmallows are melted, your little baker can add the cereal, graham crackers and salt to the pot. You might tied a kitchen towel around the pot to be sure they don’t accidentally touch it because it will still be warm. They can measure and pour ingredients for the Nutella drizzle. Once you transfer the chocolate out of the sauce pan, they can help drizzle it on the rice crispy treats.

How we baked it

S’more Crispy Treats

About 16 bars in 9×13 inch cake pan
Total time: 30 minutes
Recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Ingredients

8 tablespoons butter (1 stick)
5 cups rice crispy cereal
1 cup graham cracker pieces (about 5 crackers)
10 oz marshmallows
1/4 teaspoon salt

Chocolate topping
1/2 cup Nutella chocolate
3 tablespoons heavy whipping cream

Directions

  1. Break graham crackers into small pieces and set aside.
  2. Melt butter in large pot over medium-low heat. The butter should melt and bubble, turn a clear golden color and then start to brown. This process adds a pretty delicious nutty flavor. I got the trick from @smittenkitchen and have never looked back!
  3. Remove butter from heat as soon as it’s browned and add the marshmallows.
  4. Mix until marshmallows are melted and smooth. The pot should be hot enough but if not return it to low heat until marshmallows melt.
  5. Add the cereal, graham crackers and salt to the pot.
  6. Mix until well coated and spread into a lined or buttered cake pan.
  7. To make Nutella drizzle add 1/2 cup of Nutella and 3 tablespoons of heavy whipping cream to small sauce pan and melt over medium low heat.
  8. Once Nutella is smooth drizzle over rice crispy treats.
  9. Cool and cut into squares.

****

Ube Crinkle Cookies

Updated 12/21/2020 with trick to make crinkles more pronounced. See recipe below.

Penny loves all things purple. So being able to bake a purple dessert made her very happy. My husband introduced me to ube desserts years ago but this was the first one I’ve baked. And it was a great place to start! These cookies are soft, fluffy and rich with the delicious ube flavor.

If you don’t know, ube is a purple yam that is commonly used in Filipino baking. It tastes sweet with strong vanilla flavor and mild nutty undertones. It’s sometimes mistaken for Taro but the two are not the same. Taro is a root with a much lighter color and less sweet flavor.

From start to finish these cookies only take about 45 minutes. We got our ube jam and extract online but you can find them at your local Asian market. Make sure to roll the dough really well into the powdered sugar to get a good coating. We ended up sprinkling some extra powdered sugar on top after they came out of the oven because we didn’t coat them enough. Also, plan for the dough to chill. We cleaned up and preheated the oven while the dough was in the freezer for about 15 minutes.

Bake tips by Age

2-4 years: Prep is really easy for this recipe. Let your little baker add and stir the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder and salt) while you get everything else together. They can’t over-stir it! Once everything is prepped, they will have fun adding measured ingredients, watching the dough change to a deep purple color, and rolling the dough in the powdered sugar. Explain as you go which ingredients are being added and their measurements. Reading the recipe aloud is also helpful to keep them engaged.

5-7 years: Let them help with prepping all the ingredients in small containers. We use plastic takeout containers or kid bowls. If they aren’t ready to measure, they might help fetch and return the ingredients to the pantry. We find it helpful to always put away each ingredient after we’ve measured what we need. It makes the clean up at the end less overwhelming. Your little baker will have fun adding ingredients and helping cream the butter and sugars. Sometimes when the electric mixer gets too heavy to hold, P scrapes down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula in between adding ingredients. When it came time to form the cookies, I scooped and P shaped the balls and rolled them into the powder sugar.

How we baked it

Ube Crinkle Cookies

2 dozen cookies
Prep time: 30 minutes | Bake time: 12-15 | Total time: 45 minutes
Recipe adapted slightly from Keeping it Relle

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
1/2 cup ube halaya (jam)
1 teaspoon ube extract

Crinkle Coating

1 cup granulated sugar
1-2 cups powder sugar

Directions

  1. In a small mixing bowl whisk together dry ingredients: flour, baking powder and salt.
  2. Add room temperature butter and both sugars to a large bowl. Beat until mixture is light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add egg and beat until combined.
  4. Add ube jam and ube extract to the bowl and beat until well combined.
  5. Slowly add dry ingredients and mix until just incorporated. This means stop mixing when you can no longer see the flour and the dough is purple. Don’t over mix it! 🙂
  6. Chill dough in the freezer for 15 minutes.
  7. Preheat oven to 350F (180C).
  8. Prepare cookie sheets with either nonstick spray or parchment paper.
  9. Using a tablespoon scoop dough into balls.
  10. Roll the balls in granulated sugar and then powder sugar and cover them completely.
  11. Place balls on cookie sheet and bake for 12-15 minutes. Cool on rack.

***

Lemon Ricotta Cookies

I love sharing a good recipe. I love receiving a good recipe even more. It’s a nice way to bake “together” despite the social distance or miles apart. A dear friend sent me this recipe for Lemon Ricotta Cookies after she baked it with her girls. Let me tell you, it’s a winner. The cookies are moist and light – almost the consistency of little cakes. They made a perfect addition to our Friday afternoon movie tea party watching Tangled.

A couple of notes. The recipe says to leave the dough in the refrigerator overnight. I don’t know about you, but the thought of doing all that work and telling my little baker we’ll eat one tomorrow is not appealing. Not today, at least. Instead we chilled the dough in the freezer while the oven preheated, we made the lemon glaze and cleaned up the mess. About 15 minutes. They turned out great!

Also, when squeezing and zesting lemons watch out for stray lemon squirts. After getting a little lemon juice in her face Penny decided sunglasses would be the safest way to continue squeezing 😀 We were able to get all the zest and 6 tablespoons of juice out of just 2 lemons.

Baking tips by age

2-4 years: I would prep the ingredients while your little baker is occupied. You might set up a bowl of water in the sink and let your little one wash the lemons while you prep. Mixing ingredients is fun, especially when its time for the ricotta cheese because the consistency changes pretty dramatically. Also, your little baker will probably enjoy squeezing and trying the lemon juice. Drizzling the glaze with a little spoon is always a hit.

5-7 years: Let them help with the prep. There aren’t too many ingredients. Your little baker might be able to wash and squeeze the lemons, crack the eggs, and dump the entire 15oz container of ricotta cheese into the batter – it’s oddly satisfying. With just three ingredients, they might measure and make the glaze all on their own.

How we Baked it

You can find the recipe for Giada De Laurentiis’ new and improved Lemon Ricotta Cookies here.

xxoo,

June Bug Bakers

Strawberry Cake Pie

Penny calls this ‘cake pie’ for obvious reasons. We first made it a couple of summers ago and now whenever I see a bunch of ripe strawberries I immediately think of this recipe. It’s simple, sweet and packed full of strawberry goodness. Penny was excited to be able to cut the berries all by herself. Yes, Penny and Jack have their very own set of kitchen knives. These nylon knives are safe for little hands and work great on fruit. Of course if you don’t have safe knives or your little one isn’t ready to help with this part I would hull and half the strawberries ahead of time.

We got our recipe from Smitten Kitchen. Here’s how we made it with a 5 and 2 year old in the kitchen.

baking tips by age

2-4 years: This is an easy recipe to prepare all the ingredients ahead of time in small bowls and then let your little one do the combining. At this age I would cut the green top off the strawberries first and let them half the fruit. They’ll love helping arrange the strawberries on top of the cake.

5-7 years: Let your little baker haul and half the strawberries if you have kid-safe knives. Try pulling up the green leaves before cutting as close to the top as possible. As always, they can combine and mix ingredients. Arranging the strawberries on top of the cake makes it their own.

how we baked it

Strawberry Cake Pie

SERVINGS 8-10
Recipe from Smitten Kitchen where it was adapted from Martha Stewart

Ingredients

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1 cup, plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 pound strawberries, hulled and halved

The Prep

Bring butter to room temperature.
Measure all ingredients into small bowls.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Butter 10 inch pie pan.
Hull and half strawberries now or with your little baker.

The Directions

  1. Prepare strawberries – cut off green tops and then cut in half long ways.
  2. Add 1 1/2 cups of flour, 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt together in a small bowl and whisk.
  3. Beat the room temp butter with 1 cup of sugar in a large bowl until pale and fluffy. This takes about 3 minutes with an electric mixer. Or, if you need to keep a baby napping you can mix by hand for about 10 minutes.
  4. Stir in 1 one egg, 1/2 cup of milk and 1 teaspoon of vanilla until combined.
  5. Gradually add in dry mixture and stir until smooth.
  6. Pour batter into pie pan. Arrange the strawberries on top, cut side down. You can overlap the strawberries or make one layer.
  7. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of sugar over the berries.
  8. Bake at 350 degrees F for 10 minutes. Then reduce heat to 325 degrees F and bake for another 50-60 minutes.
  9. You’ll know the cake is done when it’s golden brown and a tester comes out without wet batter.
  10. Cool before cutting into wedges.

I enjoy mine with fresh whipped cream, Jack likes ice cream and Penny prefers hers with sprinkles because, why not? 🍓

Bugs and kisses,

June Bug Bakers