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Sunday, 14 October 2012

Our Favourite Lunchbox Treats

I like to include a small baked treat in our household lunchboxes, my daughters particularly enjoy an energy boost midway through their school day.  I also usually take along an after school snack to keep them going on the (short) walk home.  Most often after school snacks consist of a piece of fruit or crudites accompanied by a small baked treat. 

I like "bung it all in and mix it up" recipes which are low faff and produce really tasty but not too sugar laden treats.  I try to add some dried fruit where possible and also use breakfast cereals for added crunch and vitamins.  I am certainly not proclaiming any of these recipes to be healthy, they are treats, and as such small servings are recommended.

Here are the recipes I use most often for lunchbox and after school snacks:

Vanilla Cupcakes

This recipe makes 12 muffin size and 12 mini-muffin size cupcakes.  I normally put the larger cupcakes in lunchboxes and take the smaller ones for an after school snack.

2 cups self raising flour
150g soft butter
¾ cup white sugar
3 large free range eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 Tblsp milk

Preheat your oven to 180C.  Line your cupcake/muffin tins with paper cases. 

Combine all the ingredients together in a bowl or stand mixer and beat until completely smooth, approximately 1 – 2 minutes is usually sufficient.  The mixture should be a soft dropping consistency so add a little more milk if necessary.

Spoon the mixture into your prepared tins and bake for 15 – 20 minutes or until the cupcakes are well risen and golden.  Carefully remove the cupcakes from the tins and allow to cool on a rack.  Store in an air tight container until they are ready to be eaten or iced.

Glace icing – for decorating

1 cup icing sugar
1 Tblsp lemon juice or a drop or two of flavouring such as vanilla or peppermint extracts.
Food colouring, if you want coloured icing
As much water as you need to make a spreadable icing

Combine the glace icing ingredients, using only as much water as you need to make a spreadable icing. Ice the top of each cupcake with icing and leave plain or decorate however you like.  Sprinkles, chocolate beans, sugarpaste shapes and edible glitter are favourites in our household - thankfully not all at once.



Chocolate Cupcakes

1 2/3 cups plain flour
1½ cups white sugar
2/3 cup cocoa powder
1 ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
1½ cups milk
100 g melted butter
2 large free range eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat your oven to 180C. Line your cupcake/muffin tins with paper cases.

Combine all the ingredients together in a bowl or stand mixer and beat until completely smooth, approximately 1 – 2 minutes is usually sufficient. The mixture should be a soft dropping consistency so add a little milk if necessary.

Spoon the mixture into your prepared tins and bake for 15 – 20 minutes or until the cupcakes are well risen and golden. Carefully remove the cupcakes from the tins and allow to cool on a rack. Store in an air tight container until they are ready to be eaten or iced.


Rice Crispie Bars

My daughters absolutely love these bars, however I don't make them too often as they are high in sugar.  They are great for kids parties, cake stalls and can be frozen for up to a month.

125g butter
80g marshmallows
100g rice crispies
handful of dried fruit
50g chocolate chocolate, for the topping

Line a square 20cm x 20cm cake tin with baking paper.

Melt the butter and marshmallows together in a large saucepan over a moderate heat or put them into a heatproof bowl and microwave for 1 minute on HIGH.  Use a whisk to stir the melted butter and marshmallow mixture together until well combined.  You will need to stir quite vigourously, this helps burn off the calories the finished bars contain.

Add the rice crispies and dried fruit to the melted mixture and stir well to completely combine.  Spoon the mixture into the prepared cake tin and press down firmly with the back of a spoon.  Refrigerate the mixture for two hours to ensure it is completely set.

Melt the chocolate in the microwave or in a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water until it has completely melted.  Using a teaspoon, drizzle the melted chocolate over the top of the set rice crispie mixture mixture and chill in fridge for a further 30 minutes.  Remove the rice crispie cake from the tin and then slice it into 10 evenly sized bars.

Wrap up each bar tightly in kitchen foil and freeze them for up to a month, or store them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.


rice crispie slice lunchbox snack kids party treat

Flapjacks

125g butter
125g sugar
1 Tblsp golden syrup, honey or treacle
175g rolled oats
100g dried fruit and seeds, use whichever dried fruit and seeds your family prefer

Preheat your oven to 160C and line a 20cm square cake tin with non-stick baking paper.  Put the butter, sugar and golden syrup into a large saucepan over a moderate heat and stir until the butter has melted and everything is well combined. 

Take the saucepan off the heat then tip the rolled oats, dried fruit and seeds into the saucepan and stir together ensuring that the oats, fruit and seeds are thoroughly coated with the melted butter and sugar mixture.

Pour the mixture into your prepared tin and press down firmly to form an even layer, I use a potato masher to do this bit but you could use the back of a spoon.

Bake in the oven for 25 - 30 minutes until golden brown.  Remove from the oven and score slices to make cutting the flapjacks easier once they have cooled.  Leave the flapjacks to cool completely in the tin.



Dried Fruit and Cornflake Cookies

125g butter
130g light soft brown sugar, firmly packed
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 free range eggs
275g self-raising flour
150g dried fruit, I usually use dried apricots or raisins
80g cornflakes

Preheat your oven to 180C.  Line 2 baking trays with non-stick baking paper. In a large bowl cream the butter, sugar and vanilla extract.

Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition until everything is thoroughly combined. Gently fold in the flour and dried fruit completely incorporated.

Pour the cornflakes onto a plate or tray and roll tablespoonfuls of the cookie mixture through the cornflakes so that the cornflakes coat the outside of the cookies.  Put the cookies, about an inch apart (to allow room for spreading), onto the prepared baking trays.

Bake the cookies for 15-20 minutes or until the cookies are lovely and golden.  Remove from oven. Cool the cookies on the baking trays for 5 minutes then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.

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