Perfect for baking with children, these ultra-easy, delicious desserts by Sarah Rainey all clock in at only six minutes to make. They’re ideal for short attention spans and hungry tummies!
Jammy Thumbprint Cookies
Sarah says: These sticky, fruity cookies make me feel a bit like a five year old, not only when I eat them, but when I make them too, squidging my thumb into the middle to make a hole for the jam. The short cooking time makes them nice and crumbly, rather than crisp, and the jam is deliciously gooey.
250g ground almonds
60ml coconut oil
3tbsp maple syrup
1tsp vanilla extract
140g fruit jam of your choice
Preheat the oven to 250°C (fan 230°C) and line a baking sheet with greaseproof paper.
Start the clock:
1) Mix the almonds, egg, coconut oil, maple syrup and vanilla extract together in a bowl until they come together in a loose dough.
2) Flatten them with your fingers until the cookies are around 1cm thick. Then squidge your thumb into the centre of each to create a deep dent (make sure you don’t make a hole all the way through or the jam will leak out).
3) Fill the dent in each cookie with a heaped teaspoon of jam.
4) Place the baking sheet of cookies in the oven on the top shelf and cook for 4 minutes. When they’re done, open the door slightly, rotate the baking sheet (to ensure the cookies don’t catch or burn) and leave them to cool in the oven with the door ajar for around half an hour.
5) Enjoy hot or cold with cup of tea. These cookies will keep for 5 to 6 days in an airtight tin.
Red Velvet Mug Cake
Sarah says: There was a time when red velvet cake seemed to be taking over bakeries and cupcake shops all around the world. And no wonder: the fluffy cocoa sponge is utterly delicious.
For the cake:
40g self-raising flour
50g golden caster sugar
2 tbsp cocoa powder
3 tbsp sunflower or vegetable oil
3 tbsp semi-skimmed milk
½ tsp red gel food colouring
For the icing:
25g icing sugar
2 tsp cream cheese
Grease the inside of a chunky, microwave-proof mug (approx. 300ml) with a little butter or flavourless oil. You’ll also need a whisk to mix the wet ingredients.
Start the clock:
1) Mix all the dry ingredients together until combined.
2) Add the oil, milk and egg and whisk well. Finally, add the food colouring, stirring as you do so you can get the colour just right. You’re looking for a vivid red; remember it will fade slightly as it cooks and the cocoa colouring comes through.
3) Microwave on high for 1-1.5 minutes. Check it as it bakes – it may not need the full amount of time, but you’ll know it’s done when the sponge rises to the top of the mug.
4) While the cake cooks, make the icing. Sieve the icing sugar over the cream cheese and mix well – it should be smooth but not too runny.
5) Once the cake is done, spoon or pipe (if you want to be neat) the icing on top. Tuck in immediately, straight from the mug. Mmmmmmm!
Tip: Gel food colouring is more vivid than traditional water-based colouring and will give your bakes lovely vibrant hues. If you want to make this cake really showstopping, swap the cream cheese icing for a scoop of your favourite ice cream, chocolate sauce, sweets and biscuit crumbs. Et voila! Your very own red velvet sundae!
Unicorns – or at least unicorn-inspired rainbow colours, glitter and sparkle – are everywhere you look these days, from cakes to cushion covers, croissants to cocktails. I’ve taken a simple recipe for chocolate bark and given it a fairy tale twist – guaranteed to put a smile on people’s faces.
Makes 15-20 pieces
600g white chocolate
1 tsp coconut oil
At least three vivid gel food colourings (eg purple, blue and pink super-strength gels by Dr Oetker)
Whatever toppings you fancy: eg mini marshmallows, rainbow sprinkles, silver balls
Line a large chopping board with greaseproof paper. It also makes life easier if you prepare your food colouring stations in advance, so lay out three small bowls and teaspoons. Have a ladle and palette knife to hand too, and a large Pyrex bowl for melting the chocolate.
Start the clock:
1) Put the chocolate and coconut oil in the Pyrex bowl and microwave on high for 1 to 1.5 minutes until melted (you can do this in shorter bursts if you want, or you can suspend the bowl over a pan of boiling water). Give the mixture a good stir to get rid of any lumps.
2) Using the ladle, transfer around a sixth of the melted chocolate mixture to each of the smaller bowls, ensuring you leave around half in the main bowl.
3) Squeeze out a teaspoonful of food dye into each of the three bowls and stir until the colour is strong and evenly distributed.
4) Start assembling the bark. First, tip the undyed white chocolate on to the prepared board and use the palette knife to spread it out. Next, drizzle over each of the coloured chocolate mixtures in turn, using the spoon to marble them through the while chocolate.
5) Top with marshmallows, sprinkles and anything else that takes your fancy. Transfer to a cool place or the fridge for at least an hour to harden, before breaking up into pieces.
6) The bark will keep for a week in an airtight tin, and makes a lovely present or after-dinner treat – whether you’re 3 or 93!
Tip: Don’t feel you have to stick to unicorn-style bark. You can experiment with all sorts of flavour and colour combinations, such as dark chocolate, pistachios (35g) and cranberries (75g); white chocolate with dried strawberries (100g) and black pepper; milk chocolate with crunchy peanut butter (200g) and sea salt; or how about milk chocolate with salted pretzels (35g) and boiled sweets (35g).