Why fondant and small-batch baking are a parent’s best friend

It’s February now, so I’m finally recovering from the crazy Year of Baking we had last year.

We ended the year with cookies. Lots and lots of cookies. Then I went into a month-long cooking challenge, where I needed the oven and baking sheets for roasting meat and vegetables. The only time I used my pie crust was to make quiche.

But February is here, and I’m starting to get the sweet tooth again. We’re also dealing with a serious case of technology overload in my house, so last Friday, just after we got home from school, I made them put the devices away and do a project together. Any project. We’d just made chocolate butter earlier in the week, so sweets and Valentine’s Day were also on their mind.

MORE: Two-ingredient chocolate butter will keep your kids busy, learning about science

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One of the shows they watch on those Internet-abled machines is Nerdy Nummies, Rosanna Parsons’ super fun geek baking show. She made a motherboard cake in a recent episode, complete with graphics card slots, plugs, a processor mount and capacitors made with chocolates and candy. My kids aren’t quite old enough to nerd out about the microchips and motherboard design just yet, but they were inspired to make a basic motherboard using fondant, the Play-Doh of icing.

Fondant is a type of thick, mold-able icing that kids love playing with. You can buy it in different colors, or you can have your kids knead in food coloring for a fun afternoon baking project. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman
Fondant is a type of thick, mold-able icing that kids love playing with. You can buy it in different colors, or you can have your kids knead in food coloring for a fun afternoon baking project. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

While they got to work kneading the fondant with food coloring, I made a quick brownie recipe that stands out only because of its size. It’s a small-batch recipe, which I have finally figured out is perfect for my family of three.

Here’s why small-batch baking makes sense: Traditional baking just yields too much sugary deliciousness.

My kids recently made this Nerdy Nummies-inspired motherboard brownie. We used a small-batch brownie recipe, which made a treat that we could reasonably eat in a few days without overindulging on sugar. They loved playing with the fondant, which is like an edible Play-Doh. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman
My kids recently made this Nerdy Nummies-inspired motherboard brownie. We used a small-batch brownie recipe, which made a treat that we could reasonably eat in a few days without overindulging on sugar. They loved playing with the fondant, which is like an edible Play-Doh. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

If I bake a whole tray of brownies, either I’m eating them, the kids are eating them or I’m taking them to work. Not bad options, but not if I’m trying to make sure we eat a sensible amount of woah foods. Small-batch baking means making a quantity of treats that we could responsibly eat over a few days.

Like baby bear’s porridge, that CD-sized brownie from a souffle dish seemed just the right size for us. After the big brownie cooled, they started decorating it like a motherboard with that fondant Play-Doh they’d been busy kneading and rolling out with a rolling pin. (Feel free to break out the cookie cutters if you try this at home.)

Seriously, that fondant kept them busy for an hour. And then we got to eat the results, without a mountain of leftovers to tempt us all week long. That’s a win-win if you ask me.

You can buy fondant in the baking section of many nicer grocery stores, and it’s definitely for sale at Make It Sweet Bake Shop and some arts and crafts stores, such as Michael’s and Hobby Lobby.

 

 

Author: Addie Broyles

Food writer for the Austin American-Statesman and Austin360.com.

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