ATK Kids

How to Spend a Rainy Day with Your Young Chef

The answer? Cupcakes. Always cupcakes.

Published Oct. 1, 2018.

A rainy day can throw a wrench in your best laid plans. So why not turn it into an excuse to do something indoors that you and your kids will love? This collection of activities from America's Test Kitchen Kids gets your young cooks involved in baking and decorating their own cupcakes (and there's a good chance they won't need bad weather to convince them to take part).

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What You’ll Need

Activity One: Make Your Own Sprinkles


Sprinkles have a way of brightening up anyone's day, especially kids. That's one of the reasons why we love adding them to our cupcakes, doughnuts, ice cream, and more. The other reason we love sprinkles? The simple fact that they're so fun and easy to make. 

Kid-Approved Test Kitchen Tip: We know, waiting is the worst! But the icing needs plenty of time to dry and harden before we can break it up into sprinkles. If you know you're going to be stuck inside, we recommend making the sprinkles the night before. (If you're looking for a faster way to get sprinkles on your cupcakes, save this activity for another time and use store bought sprinkles.) [START ACTIVITY]

Activity Two: Bake Some Birthday Cupcakes

Birthday Cupcakes

While this recipe is officially called Birthday Cupcakes, we encourage your young chef to celebrate anything they want with them—even a rainy day in. And if this is your child's first time baking cupcakes, our step-by-step recipe will guide them from ingredient prep to oven to cooling rack.

Kid-Approved Test Kitchen Tip: While the cupcakes are cooling for an hour, jump on over to the next activity and make our Vanilla Frosting or Milk Chocolate Frosting recipe. [START ACTIVITY]

Activity Three: Pick Your Choice of Frosting

Vanilla FrostingChocolate Frosting

Whether you prefer vanilla frosting or milk chocolate frosting, either one of these options will give you a rich, creamy icing to top your cupcakes with. Both recipes take 20 minutes or less to make. (If you do decide to make the milk chocolate frosting, keep in mind that it needs to be refrigerated until it's cooled and thickened, about an hour.)

Kid-Approved Test Kitchen Tip: Use your favorite gel food coloring to take your basic vanilla frosting to the next level. [START ACTIVITY]

Activity Four: Decorate Your Cupcakes!

Now that your cupcakes have cooled down and they've been topped with your choice of frosting, it's time for the really fun part: decorating your cupcakes. To get wow-worthy cupcakes try one of our five decorating techniques. 

  • Rosy Cupcakes: Do you know what's sweeter than a dozen roses? A dozen rosy cupcakes. This decorating technique lets your young chef create classy rose petals in their favorite color using our vanilla frosting recipe.  [SEE HOW IT'S DONE]
  • Smooth Cupcakes: These simple but elegant cupcakes feature tall, smooth sides of frosting coated in sprinkles or crushed candy. [SEE HOW IT'S DONE]
  • Shaggy Cupcakes: To get these visually striking cupcakes—that remind us of the popular 1970's shaggy rugs—we use toppings with fun textures like shredded coconut, crushed nuts, candy, or cookies. [SEE HOW IT'S DONE]
  • Sparkly Cupcakes: Each cupcake may seem plain from the sides, but you're in for a bright surprise once you get a view of the top. [SEE HOW IT'S DONE]
  • Swirly Cupcakes: These impressive cupcakes display layers of color in at least two dyes of your choice. [SEE HOW IT'S DONE]

Bonus Activity: Cupcake Tic-Tac-Toe

Birthday Cupcakes

When you’re all done making your cupcakes and decorating them, grab a marker and a piece of construction paper. Then, create a tic-tac-toe board large enough to fit your cupcakes into each square. To play, you’ll need five cupcakes with one design and five cupcakes with a different design for the opposing player. Winner gets all dozen cupcakes. (Just kidding—cupcakes for everyone!)

Recommended for Ages 8-12

The Complete Cookbook for Young Chefs

Kid-tested and kid-approved means there are thousands of other kids out there right now cooking these recipes, and loving the process and the results.  

Introducing the Young Chefs' Club

Every month, young chefs ages 5 and up receive a themed box filled with kid-tested recipes, hands-on activities and experiments, and other creative items, such as art projects, achievement buttons, a kitchen tool or special ingredient, and more.  
Learn More

What are your favorite activities to do with the young ones when the weather isn't in your favor? Let us know in the comments! 

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