Baking with kids isn’t exactly a cakewalk. In fact, it’s pretty likely that you’ve cringed at hearing the words “Oooh, I wanna help!” when whipping up a treat. We’ve all been there — the thought of little, sticky fingers touching every square inch of the kitchen sending us into an instant panic attack. But honestly, it’s totally worth it. And these to-die-for baking recipes for kids are the literal proof in the pudding. If a less-than-perfect presentation or the (guaranteed) messy aftermath are the only things standing between you and a plate of fudgy brownies, just remember that taste always wins. Clean-up can wait… until that sweet tooth-induced coma has passed and you have a proper cocktail in hand.
Allyson Reedy, mother of two and author of the new baking cookbook 50 Things to Bake Before You Die, assures us all that “On the grand scale of failures, the ones that involve sugar, butter, and chocolate are kind of on the low end.” As a self-proclaimed “baking mortal,” Reedy also readily admits to her failures in the kitchen — like that time she tripled the butter in a cupcake recipe right before a photoshoot. Lucky for her, her 9-year-old daughter was by her side to remind her that just trying is an accomplishment in itself. Awww. And lucky for the rest of us, she succeeded in creating her collection of the best desserts that she says she “conned amazing bakers like Christina Tosi, Joanne Chang, Duff Goldman, and Dominique Ansel, and other amazing, lesser-known bakers into letting [her] use for this book.”
Whether you decide to try some of these fun baking recipes for kids as a way to spend some serious one-on-one time with your kids, for the teachable moments, in an attempt to satisfy your insatiable desire for sugar, or, like Reedy, to keep the kids busy and get through a divorce, we promise it’s one regret you won’t have before you die.
PS: Be sure to grab the book so you don’t miss out on the booze-filled, adult cupcake recipe.
Funfetti Cookies by Kate Wood, Wood & Spoon
These colorful cookies are what Reedy calls “buttery nostalgia” and take only about 20 minutes from start to mouth. And they might just hold a bit of kid-calming magic, too! They worked for Reedy anyways — on a day she called time out on her kid’s antics that “lead to happy eating, because sugar and rainbow sprinkles are known for their anger-melting properties.” Find the full Funfetti cookies recipe here.
Mackles’mores by Robin Wehl Martin, Hello Robin Cookies
These s’mores-inspired cookies are ideal for those days when building a campfire just isn’t in the cards. All the usual s’mores stars come together in this delicious, ooey gooey cookie topped on a graham cracker square. They’re sort of like camping, only tastier and way easier! Find the full Mackles’mores recipe here.
Chewy Brownies by Tessa Arias, Handle the Heat
Remember that plate of fudgy brownies we mentioned earlier? Yeah. These are the brownies we were talking about. They’re a must for any chocolate craving and require just one bowl. And because Arias is pretty much the brownie expert, with about 40 brownie recipes to her name, there’s really no reason to look beyond this. Find the full chewy brownies recipe here.
Biscoff White Chocolate Blondies by Anna Wierzbinska, Anna Banana
Who can’t get behind a baking recipe that cuts time and effort with the help of prepackaged ingredients? And if you and your kids have never had a Biscoff cookie, this is a great way to try them out. Their caramel, spice profile pairs perfectly with the white blondie dough and because they’re layered in a baking pan, they’re an easy recipe for kids to assemble. Find the full Biscoff white chocolate blondies recipe here.
Strawberry Hand Pies by Tracy Wilk, #BakeItForward
The story behind this recipe is sure to add another layer of love to any pie lover’s obsession. Reedy says “These cute little [strawberry] pies were a part of Tracy Wilk’s #BakeItForward movement during the pandemic, where she delivered fresh-baked treats to frontline workers in New York City.” And don’t worry, the crust is totally baking mortal-proof. Here’s the recipe, which makes six hand pies:
For the crust
- 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 ½ teaspoons granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ cup (1 stick) + 2 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cubed
- ½ cup ice-cold water
For the filling
- 2 cups strawberries, trimmed
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- Zest and juice of 1 lime
- 1 egg mixed with 1 teaspoon water (for egg wash)
- Granulated sugar, to sprinkle on top
- Whisk the flour, sugar, and salt together in a large mixing bowl to combine. Rub the butter into the dry ingredients by hand and mix until butter is reduced to small pieces, about the size of a pea.
- Slowly add about half of the water. Using a rubber spatula (or your hands), bring the dough together. Adjust the water as needed to achieve the right consistency. When a handful of dough can be squeezed together and holds its shape, the dough has enough water. There will be lumps of butter remaining in the dough, and the dough should just begin to hold together. If it is sticky, add a small amount of flour. If it is too dry, add a small amount of water.
- Wrap pie dough tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, 1-2 hours. The dough can also rest in the refrigerator overnight.
- For the filling: Combine all ingredients in a small pot and cook over medium heat until the strawberries begin to break down and the mixture begins to thicken, about 8 minutes. Place in a bowl and set aside to fully cool. Line a cookie tray with parchment paper and set aside.
- Preheat oven to 375 ̊F. Lightly flour a work surface, and, using a rolling pin, roll pie dough until it is about 1/8 inch thick. Using a 4-inch round cutter, cut out rounds. Place on prepared cookie tray.
- Using a pastry brush, create a border of egg wash on half of the rounds. Spoon strawberry filling into the center and top with the second half of the rounds. Pinch the outside, releasing any air bubbles. Using a fork, crimp the edges. Using a paring knife, cut an X in the center of each pie.
- Brush the top of the hand pies with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for about 20–30 minutes, until golden brown and the fruit is bubbling. Allow to cool for at least 5 minutes before removing from the sheet tray.
Peanut Butter Pie by Kelli Marks, Sweet Love Bakes
Aside from a quick oven appearance, this is a super chill bake. No, really. After the cocoa cookie crust cools, it’s piled high with a fluffy peanut butter and cream mixture that’s a little like eating clouds—that is, if we lived in a sugar world. And who doesn’t want to at least pretend to live there? Here’s the recipe, which makes a 10-inch pie:
For the crust
- ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup Dutch-process cocoa
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon baking powder
- 1 large egg
- 1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
For the coating
- ¼ cup heavy whipping cream
- 1/3 cup dark chocolate
For the filling
- 2 cups heavy whipping cream
- 8 ounces mascarpone
- 1 cup creamy peanut butter
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 ½ cups powdered sugar
- Preheat oven to 350°F. In a medium bowl, combine butter, sugar, cocoa, salt, and baking powder. Use a hand mixer or stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.
- Scrape down sides and add the egg; mix until combined. Add the flour in 2 additions.
- Once combined, press into the bottom and sides of a 10-inch pie pan. (If you only have a 9-inch, don’t use all of the dough; it will be too thick. Only use as much as you need to cover a ¼-inch thickness on the bottom and sides.) Bake for 20 minutes. The sides will be puffy and the bottom will no longer appear glossy. Use a measuring cup to gently press the bottom and sides down. Set the crust aside and allow to cool.
- In a microwave-safe bowl, combine the dark chocolate and heavy cream and heat for 30 second intervals until completely melted. Pour into the bottom of the crust.
- In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or in a large bowl using a hand mixer, whip the heavy cream until stiff peaks are achieved. Set this aside.
- Still using your stand mixer or hand mixer, combine mascarpone cheese, peanut butter, salt, and vanilla and whip until fluffy. Add powdered sugar to the mixture in 3 batches. Mix until combined, scraping down sides as necessary. Fold in the reserved whipped cream by hand.
- Pour filling into cooled crust and top with chopped peanut butter cups if desired. Allow to chill 2 hours before serving.